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The 5 healthiest vegetables you’ll find in the grocery store
These five vegetables will help you stay healthy.
Everyone knows that vegetables are good for you, but not everyone knows exactly what vegetables can do for you, and why they are good for you.
Click here to see the 5 Healthiest Vegetables in the Produce Aisle (Slideshow)
We’ve picked the five healthiest vegetables that you can grab in the grocery store, and listed what their health benefits are. It’s pretty amazing that eating these foods can do things like fight cancer, help promote strong bones, improve your digestive health, and boost immunity, among other things.
Leafy greens, such as spinach and especially kale, topped our list, followed by other green vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Tomatoes also proved to be winners in terms of the health benefits that they can provide us. And, the bonus is that you can easily find these vegetables at any supermarket.
If you want to live long and stay healthy, take a look at our list of the five healthiest vegetables in the produce aisle.
15 of the Healthiest Vegetables You Can Eat, According to a Nutritionist
If you're looking for a daily snack, look no further than these powerhouse veggies.
From leafy greens to cruciferous veggies, produce is a little gift from nature to us humans. Filled with crucial immune-boosting antioxidants, fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals, they&rsquore the "real deal" that can make a big impact on your health. The beauty of vegetables? The more you eat them, the better off you are. Countless studies have linked the benefits of greater veggie intake to decreased risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, and lifestyle-related cancers. Plus, observational data has linked adequate produce intake (at least five servings per day) to better mood and self-reported feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
Since veggies contain lots of water, they are also essential for hydration and digestion while simultaneously providing fuel for your body&rsquos beneficial bacteria to survive and thrive. To be clear, Any veggie is the healthiest vegetable, so choose what you love and use this list as inspo for future meals and snacks you can enjoy in flavorful ways. That said, the only thing you may want to keep to a minimum? Breading and deep-frying your veggies, which turn a nutritious staple into a vehicle for extra refined carbs and saturated fat that can add up if you&rsquore preparing them with those methods frequently.
Editor's note: GH acknowledges that weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects, and we invite you gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.
Otherwise, choose a variety of veggies to bulk up your meals with nutritious flavor. Cook fresh and frozen produce by steaming, grilling, sautéing, or roasting &mdash or enjoy it raw. If you go the canned route, pick types without added sugar or sodium. Again, all vegetables are healthy vegetables, but here are a list of my top favorites:
Popeye was onto something. According to certified dietician-nutritionist and founder of Real Nutrition Amy Shapiro, &ldquoSpinach is a superstar dark leafy green&rdquo because it&rsquos high in iron, potassium, magnesium and cartenoids (like vitamin A), as well as vitamins K, C, E and B. Whew. All that to say, it&rsquos full of vitamins and minerals essential to blood clotting, bone metabolism and a healthy immune system, and antioxidants for anti-aging and anti-inflammation. Best of all, spinach is relatively tasteless (and super low in calories, at about six per cup), which makes it an easy addition to smoothies, soups and sauces. Try it in a green smoothie with avocado and apple, toss it in pasta Florentine with grilled chicken or give your dinner a nutritional boost with a side of coconut creamed spinach.
Grocery store tour: Shopping the produce aisle
Seeing colors or just shopping in the produce section? Vitamins and minerals are expressed through color, and fruits and vegetables have plenty of those. Although many items in the produce section grow in the soil, they really are clean foods, meaning they&rsquore low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, and have few added preservatives. Fruits and vegetables also are full of fiber and help keep you feeling fuller longer to add more benefit to you.
You should eat 5&ndash7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, which can be difficult. To accomplish that goal, try eating a variety of colors to ensure you&rsquore getting a variety of nutrients. Leafy vegetables are fillers, adding bulk and water to your meals. More starchy vegetables, such as peas, green beans, carrots and corn, have more carbohydrates, which doesn&rsquot mean you shouldn&rsquot eat them, just less of them. There are many different ways to prepare your fruits and vegetables to ensure you&rsquore getting the recommended amount on a daily basis, and sometimes it takes trying them more than once to start to enjoy them &mdash even for adults.
Watch health educator Katie Johnson as she takes you through the produce aisle and tells you what you might not know about your fruits and vegetables:
Easy spring produce recipes
1. Beet hummus
If you’ve never cooked with beets before, this beet hummus recipe is the perfect place to start. The vitamin A, C, and potassium-rich vegetable is blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin for a dip that’s as flavorful as it is pretty. Pink hummus is just so much more fun.
2. Maple-roasted carrots
Roasting carrots and drizzling them with a little maple syrup completely transforms their flavor and texture. Here, olive oil, hot sauce, and salt are also worked into the recipe, lighting up all your tastebuds. Sweet, salty, and spicy, these maple roasted carrots really have it all.
3. Carrot cake smoothie
Carrots are often regulated to the dinner table, but you can absolutely enjoy them in the morning, too. Here, they’re used to make a smoothie so decadent it tastes like dessert. Also in this recipe are pineapple and warming spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.
4. Carrot cake
If that smoothie had you craving the real thing, here’s a carrot cake recipe that will 100 percent satisfy your craving. It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-sugar.
5. Radish pancakes
Chances are, you already have a sweet pancake recipe you know and love, but what about a savory one? &ldquoDaikon radish is slightly sweet and has a little bit of spiciness that radishes typically have, but grated, it makes a great base for a pancake batter,&rdquo says Mina Park, co-owner and chef of Baroo in Los Angeles. Enjoy these cakes for literally any meal of the day.
6. Radish kimchi
In this recipe, yeolmu&mdashaka young radish&mdashis combined with dried kelp, shiitake mushrooms, Asian pear, garlic, ginger, gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), and rice flour to make a nourishing side dish. “It’s a very refreshing dish,” says recipe creator Mina Park.
7. Spicy daikon radish salad
Daikon radishes are the star of this recipe from Mina Park to make a simple yet flavorful side dish. Make sure you have plenty of garlic and gochugaru on hand.
Join Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group to get in on the monthly challenge and see more spring produce repices.
The Ultimate Healthy Grocery List
We can all agree: A trip to the grocery store can be an exercise in serious wastefulness if you don’t go in with a solid list.
Sticking to mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods and limiting processed foods as much as possible is the best approach for optimal health, says Jillian Kubala, a registered dietitian and Healthline contributor.
She’s created the ultimate grocery list. Ready to start shopping your store like a pro? Don’t worry, if you like something that isn’t included, just add it in!
- (choose at different stages of ripeness)
- fresh blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries (buy frozen to save $)
- oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit
- grapes (green or red)
- mango, papaya, and star fruit
- (preferably pasture-raised)
- pasture butter
- grass-fed full fat or 2 percent yogurt or coconut yogurt
- dairy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk (unsweetened, nondairy milks that contain limited ingredients)
- full fat cheeses such as goat cheese, cheddar, and feta
- whole chicken or skin-on chicken breasts (Use all of it to make soup!)
- canned wild-caught salmon (Tip: Almost all canned salmon is wild-caught!)
- fresh fish fillets such as flounder or cod
- shellfish such as shrimp or crab
- ground turkey or grass-fed beef or pork protein sources such as extra-firm tofu or tempeh
- such as garbanzo beans, black beans, or kidney beans
- canned or dried lentils such as quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, teff, farro, buckwheat, barley, and millet (Find them in individual packages or in the bulk food section of some grocery stores.)
- rolled or steel-cut oats (Stay away from sugary instant oatmeal — instead choose plain rolled or steel-cut oats and add your own toppings.)
- corn tortillas made with minimal ingredients
Veggies and fruits
- like spinach and kale
- frozen chopped veggies like broccoli and cauliflower like berries, cherries, cubed mango, and pomegranate seeds
Bread and flour
- frozen skin-on chicken breast
- frozen ground turkey
- frozen wild-caught fish and shellfish
Fats and oils
The following are healthy, minimally processed fats that promote health in various ways:
- olive oil
- avocado oil
- ghee or grass-fed butter
- coconut oil
- unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut butter
Nuts and nut butters
- pumpkin seeds
- natural peanut butter (only ingredients should be peanuts and salt)
- almond butter
- sunflower seeds
- hemp seeds (These tiny seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. They make an excellent addition to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal.)
- ground flaxseed
- (green and black are great)
- herbal teas such as peppermint, hibiscus, and ginger
- sparkling water
Shop whole foods
The grocery list above contains whole foods, but that doesn’t mean you have to shop at the pricey store by that name. It just means foods that are sold almost exactly as they came from the plant or animal.
You may notice that this list includes high fat foods such as skin-on chicken, avocados, nut butters, and full fat yogurt rather than low fat products.
According to Kubala, these nutritious foods with their natural fats may deliver impressive health benefits like improving heart health (yes, you read that right), reducing blood sugar, and even improving brain function over time.
Shop wild and free
Whenever possible, choose pasture-raised, organic eggs, meat, and poultry as well as wild-caught fish.
Pasture-raised eggs, for example, have higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E than eggs from conventionally raised hens.
Pasture-raised dairy products also have higher levels of omega-3 fats and antioxidants, including beta carotene and lutein, compared to dairy from cattle fed conventional grain-based diets.
Also, spend the extra cash on organic produce when you can, especially for berries, grapes, apples, and greens — a 2020 analysis by the Environmental Working Group found that these fruits and veggies have the most pesticide residues.
Shop the perimeter
Start in the produce aisle and work your way around the perimeter of the grocery store before heading to the inner aisles.
This can help ensure that you fill your cart with a nice array of brightly colored vegetables and fruits (instead of brightly colored boxes, bags, and bottles).
Shop in season
Finally, know which fruits and vegetables are in season and opt for those first. They taste better and may be fresher. Download an app like the Seasonal Food Guide so you can figure out what’s in season in your area.
Better yet, whenever possible, visit local farms to shop for in-season produce. Your body (all of it — your organs, bones, blood sugar, and brain) will thank you.
7. Bok choy
Also referred to ask pak choi or Chinese cabbage, this vegetable is very common in Asia, but is also widely available at supermarkets and grocery stores in the western world. It is simple to prepare in the comfort of your home and there are plenty of recipes (such as these ones) that are available all over the web for you to try out. Nutrition wise, bok choi does not fall short, being a source of all kinds of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium.
The 12 Dirtiest Foods In The Produce Aisle Will Break Your Heart
The No. 2 spot might make you second-guess your that salad you had for lunch.
Every year since 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a "Dirty Dozen" list that ranks the most popular fruits and vegetables based on their pesticide residue levels. By analyzing pesticide residue data from more than 36,000 samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this year EWG found a total of 178 different pesticides on fresh produce samples tested&ndashresidues that remain even after items are washed and, in some cases, peeled. Here's the quick and dirty on which fruits and veggies you might want to be wary of at the grocery store.
For the second year in a row, strawberries have been named the top carrier of pesticides in produce. In EWG's findings, 99 percent of the strawberries tested by federal officials contained detectable pesticide residues. Of those strawberry samples, 29 percent included residues of 10 or more pesticides while some contained as many as 21 different pesticides.
This popular leafy green shot up the list from #8 in 2016 to the runner-up spot. Three-fourths of samples tested were contaminated with a neurotoxic bug killer that's banned from use on food crops in Europe. With an average of 7 pesticides found on every conventionally grown spinach sample collected in 2015, you'd be wise to thoroughly rinse the leaves before chowing down.
Last year, more than 98 percent of nectarines tested positive for multiple pesticide residues and the stone fruit held it's spot in 2017. Since Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of the fruit each year, according to EWG, this is a special concern for the organization.
According to the report, "pesticides are created expressly to kill living organisms -- insects, plants and fungi that are considered "pests." Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent scientists and physicians across the world. "
The USDA summarized its own testing from 2014 and concluded that "overall pesticide residues found in foods are at levels below the tolerances set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." But keeping pesticides at a legal level may not be enough for some customers, which is why EWG stresses buying organic produce.
According to tests by the USDA, the amount of pesticide residues on pears has more than doubled since 2010, with more than 50% of pears tested showing residues of 5 or more pesticides, and some had a whopping 20, including fugicides.
"Fruits and vegetables are important for your health," Sonya Lunder, EWG Senior Analys t, said in a release . "But for those on the Dirty Dozen, we recommend buying the organic versions if you want to avoid pesticides on your food."
"Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children's exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
Opt for veggies on the list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues, such as sweet corn, avocados, cabbage, onions, and frozen sweet peas .
Though cherry tomatoes dropped down to #14 on this year's list, the full-grown variety still remain in the top 10. A release from EWG warns that "the pesticide industry and chemical agriculture maintain that pesticides on produce are nothing to worry about, but doctors and scientists strongly disagree. "
So should we stop eating these produce varieties completely? Many researchers say no. "Our typical exposure is often 100,000 times lower than levels that show no effect in lab animals who have been fed the chemicals on a daily basis throughout their lifetime," Carl Winter, director of the FoodSafe Program at the University of California, Davis told Bloomberg.
Potatoes displaced cucumbers from the top 12 in this year's list. For more information and a full list of the 51 worst culprits, visit the Environmental Working Group website.
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
Air-fried Brussels sprouts offer the same great taste as the deep-fried veggie but in a healthier form. They're seasoned with white pepper, garlic chili paste, and honey and make a crispy side that's ready within 30 minutes.
The sheer number of ethnic-style products available in supermarkets now makes it easy to find fun and unusual sauces and seasoning mixtures for instant flavor, like Mrs. Dash’s salt-free fiesta lime and grilling blends McCormick’s Japanese Seven Spice Saffron Road’s Korean, Thai and Moroccan Simmer Sauces and Frontier’s Chinese Five-Spice Powder. Since seasoning blends are often high in salt or sugar, compare brands to find lower- sodium and lower-sugar varieties, or use sparingly. Of course, you can always count on reliable flavor from classics like Indian curry powder or Hungarian smoked paprika (that makes almost anything taste like bacon).
All Together Now
Depending on what you find in your supermarket, we’re sure you can come up with plenty of fast and fresh meal combinations your family will love. Meanwhile, here are some ideas to get you started: