If you are looking to kick start a healthy eating program, you may want to start by nourishing your body with healthy food choices that replace previous negative food decisions. Feeding your body with the nutrients it craves will promote the natural cleansing of toxins and chemicals that may have accumulated. Foods that are high in fiber, packed with lean protein, and rich in antioxidants will provide your body with the ingredients it needs to keep your skin, organs, muscles, and blood vessels in good working condition. Vegetables are great choices because they are low in calories and packed with nutrition. Read on for 10 veggies that will give your body a much-needed boost.
10. Leafy Greens
Kale and spinach are top choices when it comes to finding vegetables that are packed with nutrition. Their rich, vibrant color signifies the presence of powerful phytochemicals, the antioxidants that destroy tissue-damaging free radicals in the bloodstream. These vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. The vitamin A contained in leafy greens is important for immune system function as well as the formation of red blood cells, skin, and bone. Vitamin E in greens is also important for immune function and the fight against inflammation. Vitamin K is instrumental for maintaining strong bones and for proper blood clotting.
Broccoli is another vegetable with a deep green color that indicates its antioxidant properties. In addition to supporting a healthy immune system, broccoli may also aid in the prevention of breast and other types of cancers. Like the leafy greens, broccoli contains vitamins A, E, and K that are so essential for growth, development, and immunity. Broccoli also contains vitamin C, which aids in wound healing and in the formation of collagen and connective tissue. Broccoli can be enjoyed steamed, roasted, or raw and makes a great addition to soups or salads.
Cauliflower, like broccoli, is a cruciferous vegetable that can be enjoyed either cooked or raw. This vegetable contains biotin, which is important for the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates as well as for storing energy. Cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, contains sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which may aid the liver in removing toxins from the body. A crunchy broccoli cauliflower chopped salad can provide your body with many necessary nutrients and provide the energy to sustain you throughout your day.
7. Brussels Sprouts
These funny little green cabbages grow on long stalks and are named for Brussels, Belgium, the region where they grew for centuries. Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and glucosinolates. They make a savory side dish when drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic, and roasted in the oven. For a tasty and filling entrée, try Cooking Light’s recipe for a Brussels and Quinoa Bowl with Orange-Thyme Vinaigrette.
This green vegetable is also packed with vitamins and minerals yet is low in calories. Rich green vegetables not only provide nutrients, fight inflammation, and decrease the risk of cancer, but they also support good digestion. Prepare asparagus by steaming, boiling, roasting, grilling, or sauteing. Add it to soups, salads, stir fries, or an omelet. Jo Cooks has a mouthwatering recipe for Balsamic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes containing fresh veggies that will knock your socks off.
5. Red Cabbage
The vibrant red or purple color of red cabbage means it is high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can aid in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Try New Nostalgia’s recipe for Eat All Week Chopped Vegetable Detox Salad, which is chock full of bright, colorful, nutrient-packed vegetables. This recipe is easy as can be if you use a food processor to do all the chopping work. What’s more, the lemon ginger dressing is bursting with flavor and contains antioxidants to boot.
Bugs Bunny knew what he was doing when he chomped on his carrots. These crunchy orange vegetables are great sources of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes healthy vision, strong immunity, and good reproductive health. Carrots taste great roasted, added to salads, or simmered in soups. Plus, you can’t beat the ease of grabbing a handful of baby carrots for snacking on the go. Try a chilled carrot soup or a crispy carrot slaw to get your daily dose of beta-carotene.
Garlic may not get a lot of attention unless you are looking to ward off vampires. While the jury is out on whether garlic will keep vampires at bay, it does have a lot of nutrients that can help fend off ill health. Garlic contains vitamin C, antioxidants, and a substance called alliin. Alliin is a sulfuric compound that breaks down into allicin, which is responsible for that special garlicky aroma. Allicin also contributes many of the healing attributes to garlic. Studies suggest that garlic may help to boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
2. Red Onion
Like garlic, onions are members of the allium family and gain some of their health benefits from the sulfur compounds they contain. Red onion has the additional benefit of the deep purple color that indicates the presence of the antioxidant lycopene. Onions are flavorful additions to salads, dressings, and sandwiches. They impart flavor to soups, stews, stir fry, and other roasted vegetables. To enjoy their rich flavor as the star of a dinner side dish, try out the Balsamic-Glazed Red Onions at Simply Recipes.
1. Chili Peppers
If you enjoy life with a little spice, you will be happy to know that chili peppers are loaded with antioxidants as well as flavor. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which gives them their spicy flavor as well as many health benefits. Capsanthin is the carotenoid in red chili peppers that imparts their red color and a wealth of antioxidant properties. These red peppers are also rich in potassium and copper, and are good sources of vitamins A, C, B6, and K. Check out this recipe for Detox-Friendly Vegan Chili over at Erin Holt Health. It is packed with vegetables and gets an extra dash of flavor from chili powder.Related: 15 Detox Foods That Work Better Than Apple Cider Vinegar