Sure, most vegetables are super healthy, and you should add them to your diet whenever you can. But there are some veggies that rise above the rest in terms of what vitamins and minerals they provide.
If you really want to maximize the amount of nutrition you get from your food, then make dishes that are full of the healthiest vegetables.
Food Day, an organization dedicated to healthy eating, assigned a score to each vegetable (for details on the scoring methodology, scroll to the end of the page ). Here are 10 of our favorites.
For a full listing of all the vegetables, check out this chart.
1. Kale (Health Score: 1,392)
There’s a reason this super green veggie has become a full-on food craze over the last few years. Kale is packed with calcium, vitamin K (which is good for your blood) lutein (which is good for your eyes) and a ton of vitamins C, A, and B6.
It’s not the tastiest leafy green to eat raw, but sauté it with the right amount of olive oil and salt, and it will turn into a delicious, irresistible and healthy side dish for almost anything.
2. Spinach (Health Score: 968)
Raw spinach is the best for making an easy summer salad, and it’s naturally delicious. Spinach boasts loads of vitamins A, C, E, K, B2 and B6 — what a long list! — as well as lutein, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Collard Greens (Health Score: 737)
This next superstar of leafy green vegetables only has 20 calories per serving, and it’s got quite the helping of vitamins K and C, lutein, potassium and fiber.
Here’s a five-minute recipe for collard greens from the World’s Healthiest Foods. That’s right — it only takes five minutes.
4. Canned Pumpkin (Health Score: 577)
Ok, so not technically a vegetable, but it scored extremely high on the Food Day’s ranking. It’s full of vitamins C and K, potassium and fiber.
5. Sweet Potato (Health Score: 492)
One small potato skin is full of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and magnesium, according to Health. Don’t let them fool you with their name — sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest comfort foods around.
6. Carrots (Health Score: 399)
Carrots have 15 percent of your daily value of lutein. We already know that lutein is great for our eyes, but apparently it also may also decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Not to mention it was made to go down in snack history with the addition of a little hummus.
7. Broccoli Rabe (Health Score: 392)
Vegetarians rejoice! One bunch of broccoli rabe has a shocking 17 grams of protein, as well as vitamins C, K and lutein. Here’s a number of quick and easy broccoli rabe recipes from Eating Well.
8. Romaine Lettuce (Health Score: 340)
One of the best types of lettuce to use as the base of your salad. Romaine lettuce is jammed pack with key nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber. Just keep an eye on the news before opening the package — there have been E. coli-related outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce in recent months.
9. Broccoli (Health Score: 268)
Even though broccoli is slightly less healthy than romaine lettuce, it’s still pretty stacked with vitamins and nutrients, like vitamins A, D, B12, C and B6.
It’s also got six percent of your daily value of iron. Broccoli tastes great when steamed, lumped into your own homemade mac n’ cheese or used as a delicious hummus or dip scoop.
10. Brussels Sprouts (Health Score: 247)
Brussels sprouts have too many vitamins to name, and they’re full of calcium and iron.
If you haven’t ever had lemon-roasted brussels sprouts with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, then you’re really missing out on life.
*Food Day explains how the vegetables were scored and ranked:
“We calculated a score for each vegetable by adding up its percentage of: (1) the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Adequate Intake (AI) for seven nutrients, (2) the Daily Value (DV) for fiber, and (3) the daily targets that we’ve devised for lutein (plus zeaxanthin) and carotenoids other than lutein…
We counted calcium, iron, folate, and magnesium in our scores but they’re not in the chart. Ditto for carotenoids other than lutein, which include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene. We included lutein in the chart because of growing evidence that it may help prevent cataracts. There is no RDA or AI for lutein, so we set our own (3,000 micrograms) based on studies on cataracts. (The RDAs and AIs—daily targets set by the Institute of Medicine—vary slightly by age and gender. We picked the highest level for adults, excluding pregnant and lactating women.)”