Since vegetables aren’t created equal, learning the best types of vegetables is essential. This list of vegetables will help you plan your menu and tell you which ones to prioritize when you eat.
10 Types of Vegetables That Need to Be on Your Plate
1. Bell Peppers
One of the best types of vegetables out there is bell pepper. They boast more vitamin C than an orange. These crunchy treats are even more nutritious than the fiery types of peppers. They are easy to grow as well, so you can add them to your vegetable garden with no sweat.
Cooking Tip: Pair red bell pepper strips with a dip as a low-fat, low-calorie alternative to chips. You can also stuff bell pepper halves with brown rice and lean meat and bake in the oven. They’re also great to include in a stir-fry recipe and stews — or roasted and added to sandwiches. For color and crunch, few veggies are hard to beat. It’s good to know they pack such a vitamin-rich wallop too.
When you think of superfood, beets won’t be far behind. One of the best types of vegetables, it’s available as either canned or fresh. Either way, you get something that’s packed with antioxidants.
Beets also add intense color to any meal. If you buy them fresh with their leaves still attached, you get the bonus of mineral-rich leafy greens.
Cooking Tip: Cubed roasted beets add additional nutrients and color to a platter of roasted pale-colored root vegetables. Of course, you may prefer pickled beets. If so, just drain this classic side dish and add them to your festive dinner.
Broccoli is one of the most versatile among the healthy types of vegetables. It’s one of the cruciferous vegetables along with the cauliflower.
However, broccoli’s green hue tells you it has some nutrients the cauliflower lacks. These include megadoses of vitamin C, along with iron, calcium, and vitamin A. You’ll also get 10 percent of the recommended daily fiber from a serving of it.
Cooking Tip: Toss the uncooked florets into a salad of other green vegetables, cucumbers, and strips of carrots. You can also steam the florets briefly before drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C and fiber. You’ll also get good doses of vitamin A and iron. For vegetarians and vegans, they can be a plant-based protein source.
Cooking Tip: The secret’s out. Brussels sprouts aren’t the overboiled, slimy balls you remember from childhood. These days, people roast them in the oven to bring out their sweet, slightly nutty taste. Even quicker? Sauté halved sprouts in a pan with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil. Topped with bacon or Parmesan cheese, they’re a meal in themselves!
Many people know corn as a grain. What you don’t realize is they’re also both fruit and vegetable.
Corn is a good source of carbohydrate, but it also has another special characteristic: it makes lutein the more it is cooked. Lutein is one of the carotenoids that are important for eye health. Of the fruits and vegetables high in lutein, corn is among the highest on the veggies side (Tangerines and cantaloupe are top fruit choices for the nutrient.) Aside from lutein, corn delivers a hefty amount of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and several key B vitamins.
Cooking Tip: If you’re older and have challenges with both vision and crunchy food, creamed corn is ideal! Munch it on the cob after a brief steam or toss frozen kernels into a hearty casserole.
6. Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, bok choy, mustard greens, collards — which of these leafy vegetables do you love the most? Whichever you pick among these green vegetables, you can take advantage of great health benefits.
All are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, and folate — although in different amounts. Kale is an amazing source of beta-carotene. It has about five times the amount of vitamin A as other greens. Collard greens and spinach contain the most calcium.
Cooking Tip: You can enjoy these types of vegetables as fresh, steamed, sautéed, or even roasted. (Kale chips, anyone?) Even better, vary your leafy greens during the week.
When spring finally comes, most of us are happy to take a break from root veggies and turn to the freshest non-starchy vegetables. Fresh peas emerge at the earliest point in the growing season, but frozen peas also capture the round veggie’s nutrients just fine.
Peas are rich in vitamins C and A. In addition, these green vegetables are technically legumes. Thus, they also deliver high amounts of fiber and B vitamins like niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. At the same time, green peas add much more color and texture than fellow legumes like navy or pinto beans.
Cooking Tip: You can add them to a casserole or soup (There are many recipes here). If you cannot have fresh ones, canned peas will do.
Some of the best types of vegetables are leafy greens such as lettuce. They’re easy to add to your diet as a salad. However, even if they’re healthy, they can get boring after a while. That’s where fresh sprouted seeds and nuts come in.
They’re high in vitamin K, the nutrient that helps promote both blood clotting and calcium absorption. You’ll also get a range of B vitamins and a healthy dose of vitamin C and fiber from sprouts.
Cooking Tip: Add the nutrient-rich types like alfalfa sprouts to sandwiches or salads to elevate these basic staples.
9. Sweet Potato
Sure, regular potatoes have their benefits, but if you’re choosing between taters, go for orange over white! Their intense hue tells you they have a lot of vitamins A and C. The edible skin and flesh also combine to deliver fiber and vitamin B6.
Cooking Tip: Bake sweet potatoes and eat them whole or mashed. You can also cube them and toss them in stir fries, casseroles, and stews. Don’t forget to look for sweet potato fries on cafe menus!
Like corn, tomatoes are enough to make you wonder, “Isn’t this a fruit?” Botanically, it is, but in the manner of cooking, it works like a vegetable. In other words, they are both a vegetable and a fruit.
Whether you see them as a fruit or vegetable, one thing is for sure: it is rich in nutrients, especially lycopene. It is an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, studies have shown.
Cooking Tip: There are different ways to cook tomatoes. You can roast them and add them to salads. You can eat them raw for a snack or can them to create your own sauces.
One of the easiest ways to eat these types of vegetables is to make salad jars. Here are simple quick recipes to try from The Domestic Geek:
These types of vegetables are so good for the body they need to be part of your diet. If you’re not used to eating veggies, however, it can be a problem. What you can do is to start small. Pop a sweet potato in the microwave for a five-minute lunch (Need more ideas? Click here.) Put together a fresh fruit and vegetables snack tray with a low-fat yogurt dip. As your taste buds adjust, you’ll soon find yourself craving these healthy vegetables in all their versatile forms: fresh, steamed, roasted, or sautéed.
Which are your favorite types of vegetables? Share some of your recipes in the comments below.