Shiitake mushrooms are a low-calorie vegetable that has been shown to lower inflammation and improve immune function by raising secretory IgA, which is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens,” explains Erin Kenney, MS, RD, registered dietitian and CEO of Nutrition Rewired. “Place them in a stir-fry with rice and serve.” These delicious mushrooms are also great as a side dish, sautéed with garlic and scallion.
Are you a regular consumer of this nutrient-dense, fiber-rich tuber? Keep up the good work. “Sweet potatoes are considered a functional food because they include many nutrients that humans require for good health,” says Jared T. Meacham, Ph.D., RD, PMP, CSCS, president of the DC Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2022-2023).
“These improve gut health by cleaning the gastrointestinal system, softening stool, and assisting in the maintenance of a healthy internal environment,” says Meacham. and one cup includes more than half of a person’s RDA of vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. “Sweet potato antioxidants protect cells from harm and may have anti-cancer capabilities, particularly in colorectal cells,” he says.
Jicama is a fresh, refreshing vegetable high in prebiotic fiber. “The sort of fiber in jicama has been found in research to prevent excessive blood glucose and body weight gain,” says Kenney, who suggests chopping this veggie into a salad or dipping it in hummus for a filling snack. Smoothies benefit from the addition of the root vegetable.
Let’s raise our glasses to these teeny-tiny green stars. “Green peas have a unique nutrient profile since they provide a significant amount of fiber and protein per serving, making them a highly healthy source of these important nutrients,” explains Meacham.
“This is why pea protein supplements are so popular among vegans and non-vegans looking to supplement their diet with plant proteins. Green peas also contain saponins, which have been shown to be useful in the fight against cancer. P.S. Frozen green peas are similarly inexpensive and last a long time in the freezer.”
“Broccoli sprouts release a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which can help heal the gut, reduce inflammation, and even fight cancer by increasing antioxidant activity,” Kenney explains. “Sulforaphane has been demonstrated to boost Phase II detoxification enzymes and/or antioxidant enzymes, which purify your body of potential carcinogens and other disease-causing substances,” she says, adding that growing broccoli sprouts at home is simple. She relies on conventional them in a sandwich or a smoothie.
Garlic, a part of the onion family, isn’t great for your breath, but it’s beneficial for health. “Garlic is a remarkable vegetable whose active component, allicin, is responsible for its numerous health benefits. Garlic’s likely capacity to lower LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL [or ‘good’] cholesterol is one of its most important health advantages “Meacham adds his thoughts.
“In addition, some research suggests that garlic has anti-cancer effects, with liver cancer being one of the diseases that allicin may be beneficial against.” For what it’s worth, raw garlic contains more allicin than cooked garlic, so take it raw if you can, like in a salad dressing or a smoothie with a clove or two blended in.
Please pass the kimchi. Kenney says, “Kimchi, a fermented Korean vegetable mixture, has been shown to lower cholesterol levels in the body.” “Fermented foods have been demonstrated to promote immune function by increasing the good bacteria in the gut.” In soups or combined into savory entrée meals, this classic sauce is delicious. It’s available online or in your local grocer’s Asian foods section.
It was a little messy, but it was definitely worth the cleanup. “Beets include the antioxidant betalains, which are responsible for the rich red color of red beets. Vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, and iron are all abundant in beets “According to ProfilePlan.com’s Alyssa Burnison, MS, RD, LN, “Betalains’ antioxidant properties can protect our cells from DNA damage and give anti-cancer effects,” she continues, citing this study as an example.
If you’re reading this and your fridge is stocked with baby carrots, go ahead and grab a few right now. Is the mission complete? That’s great. “Carrots are well-known for their high levels of vitamin A and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene,” Burnison explains. “Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, which is known to enhance immune function and eye health,” she explains, citing a research review on carrots.
“Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous vegetable family and are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, soluble fiber, and folate,” Burnison says. “Soluble fiber, in particular, has been found to aid blood sugar regulation by transforming into a gel-like material in the gut after digestion.
This can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by preventing blood sugar rises.” Anyone for Aarón Sánchez’s Brussels sprouts salad?
Algae pick bonus! It’s time to incorporate this superfood into your daily routine: “Spirulina is actually a type of blue-green algae, but it’s generally referred to as a sea vegetable,’ and it’s typically [offered in] powder form [to add to the nutrient profile of shakes and smoothies,” Meacham explains. You may also sprinkle some on top of your favorite chia seed pudding or oatmeal.
“Even the smallest serving has a significant number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds like C-phycocyanin (C-PC),” explains Meacham. “Supplementing with spirulina has also been shown to help people with Type 2 Diabetes balance their blood sugar and lipid profiles. Likewise, spirulina has shown promise in studies examining its ability to fight oral cancer cells.”