8 overlooked vegetables you should be eating


8 overlooked vegetables you should be eating

Vegetables often get the short end of the stick.  Many people shun them, they don’t have the best reputation and only about 14 percent of Americans even eat the recommended amount of vegetables on any given day. 

Yet, vegetables are some of the most nutritious foods our planet provides.  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, cauliflower, or asparagus but they are packed with important nutrients and give just enough variety to an otherwise routine serving of the same old, common 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.

6.     Brussels sprouts

Forget about the boiled Brussel sprouts your school cafeteria served giving them their bad reputation. When cooked the right way, these pint-sized cabbages are worth another shot.  Low in calories and high in nutrients, think of a Brussel sprout as a mini cancer-fighting, cruciferous vegetable full of fiber, vitamin K and folate.  The best way to bring out the natural goodness a Brussel sprouts can bring to your plate is to oven roast them.  This develops their sweet, almost nutty flavor and keeps them crisp while diminishing the harsh, sulfurous odor and taste many find offensive. 

7.  Radishes

Radishes are some of the most eye-catching veggie in the produce aisle.  Typically characterized by their bright red color, radishes can also come in the colors of pink, white, gray-black, and yellow.  Besides being juicy and full of flavor (either sweet or pungent, depending on the variety), this root vegetable is extremely versatile, used in everything from salads to stews.  Short on time?  Give your radishes a quick slice and enjoy them raw for a super simple snack.  To balance out radishes “peppery” taste, eat them with fresh ricotta cheese, honey, and olive oil.

8.  Zucchini

Anyone who has ever grown zucchini knows how prolific this summer veggie can be.  Which is good as the versatility of zucchini is almost endless. Due to its very mild flavor and with a 95 percent water composition, zucchini is valued for its moistness in various recipes without compromising the taste.

Looking for a low-calorie food?  Look no further as zucchini fits the bill.  Like many fruits and vegetables, zucchini has a high water content (95%) and provides about 27 calories in one cup. In just one cup of this summer squash, it provides a whopping 455 milligrams of the mineral potassium, almost 10 percent of your recommended daily value. 

It can be steamed, stir-fried, boiled, grilled, or baked.  If you want to sneak in this healthy green veggie, go right ahead.  It softens, moistens and improves the taste of breads, cake, cookies, pancakes, salads, soups, and even as a topping on pizza.