5 healthy vegetables you’re overlooking

When your repertoire of veggies consists of carrots, corn, and green beans, it’s time to branch out and take a second look at healthy vegetables you’re overlooking.  Some of them are not as familiar as broccoli or asparagus but they are packed with important nutrients and give just enough variety to an otherwise routine serving of familiar vegetables.

1.      Artichoke

It may look like an intimidating work of art to know how to tackle eating it, but steaming an artichoke is probably the easiest method of accomplishing this task.  Once cooked, you can enjoy the nutritious offerings artichokes possess – fiber, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin, potassium, and vitamins K and C.  In additions, artichokes are very low calories as one medium artichokes contains only about 64 calories.

2.      Purple potato

A popular veggie in South America, they can be found in many supermarkets across America.  If you’ve never had a purple-hued potato – just think how pretty that will look on a plate - give it a try as it is loaded with a wide variety of key nutrients.  Having a nutrient profile similar to russet potatoes, purple potatoes provide potassium and fiber in addition to the flavonoid anthocyanins, which are associated with healthy blood pressure and reduced risk of some forms of cancer.

3.      Fennel

Related to the carrot family, fennel is a flowering perennial herb with feathery leaves resembling dill.  The hollow stalks can be chopped and sautéed and then can be added to salads, soups, or vegetables with butter or olive oil.  The bulb of fennel also known as “Florence fennel,” has a mild anise flavor with a sweeter taste.  The sliced bulb can be grilled, roasted, or baked.  At a mere 36 calories, fennel is a good source of fiber along with vitamins A, C, and K and the carotenoids of beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

4.      Okra

Technically a fruit, okra is a member of the hollyhock family and is used in countries prone to lack of rain as okra is drought-resistant.   It grows wild in areas of Africa, Asia and Australia and is very popular to use as a thickening ingredient in gumbo stew.  It can be cooked separately and then added to a variety of dishes for flavor.  Five pods provide only 12 calories as well as lutein, vitamin K and potassium.

5.      Collard greens

This cruciferous vegetable is from the same family as broccoli and cabbage.  A staple in Southern cooking, it’s slightly bitter taste goes along well with kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens.  Those dark green leaves contain excellent sources of vitamin C and K along with fiber.  A substance called sulforaphane is found in collard greens which may prevent some forms of cancer.  Another substance collards contain is lutein, a necessary compound important for brain and eye health.  To help prevent the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with cooking collard greens, cut them into small pieces so it will cook more quickly.