This spring vegetable — a cousin of onion and garlic — is a great source of fiber and packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, E and K, and essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is also a good source of folate, which the body needs to repair DNA and produce healthy blood cells, and chromium, a trace mineral that helps insulin transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
Avocados are one of the safest fruits to buy non-organic because their thick outer skin prevents pesticides from touching the edible fruit. Also known as alligator pears, they are packed with essential nutrients such as folate, potassium and vitamins K, B-6, E and C. Along with olive oil and canola oil, avocados are also an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), a healthy type of fat that may help lower the risk of heart disease and improve the function of blood vessels. Some research shows that MUFAs help with insulin levels and blood sugar control, which is particularly important if you have type 2 diabetes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends having a slice of avocado on your sandwich instead of mayonnaise or butter.
Cabbage is cruciferous vegetable, which a Netherlands study found may protect against colon cancer in women. Purple cabbage contains anthocyanins, which researchers are investigating for potential anti-carcinogenic properties. Just one serving of cabbage contains more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins C and K.
A member of the squash family, cantaloupe is a great source of of fiber, folate, B vitamins, vitamin C and K, and betacarotene, an antioxidant that helps keep eyes, skin and hair healthy. It is also high in potassium, which can help to decrease blood pressure. Because of its tough skin, pesticide residue cannot touch the edible fruit inside.
Conventionally-grown carrots have pesticide residue on the surface, which iseasily removed when you peel them. Just one half-cup of chopped, raw carrots provides 184 percent of adults’ recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is vital for the maintenance of the immune system and healthy vision.
Low in fat and carbohydrates, cauliflower is high in dietary fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C. This cousin of broccoli also contains glucosinolates, sulfurcontaining compounds that help the body detoxify. To keep the nutrients in cauliflower intact, steam it instead of boiling it.
It is a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium. Eggplant also contains anthocyanins, a plant-based compound that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer. It is also one of the most potent vegetables for protecting the body against the destructive effects of free radicals.
The thick peel of grapefruit is a great source of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C, which supports the immune system. It also contains hesperetin, a flavonoid that may aid blood flow to fingers and toes and suppress carcinoid tumors. Pink and red grapefruit also contain lycopene, which fights free radicals that can damage cells.
Higher in vitamin C per ounce than most other fruits, eating kiwis may promote healthy skin, reduce blood pressure and help prevent heart disease and stroke. They are a good source for fiber and antioxidants that support the immune system and reduce asthma symptoms.
Onions are high in vitamin C and are a good source of folate and dietary fiber. They also contain quercetin, a flavonoid that helps delay or slow the oxidative damage to cells and tissue. Quercetin may also help to eliminate free radicals and protect and regenerate vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.
A cousin of olives and coconuts, mangoes may decrease the risk of macular degeneration and colon cancer. They can also aid in digestion and help keep bones, hair and skin healthy. One cup of diced mango contains 100 precent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults, as well as substantial amounts of vitamin A and folate.
Packed with fiber, mushrooms are also rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid and niacin. They are also an excellent source of several key minerals that may be difficult to obtain in the diet, including selenium, potassium, copper, iron and phosphorus. In addition, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and can help prevent osteoporosis. A recent study suggests that shitake mushrooms can help prevent cervical cancer.
You can get 80 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C in just half of a small papaya, along with significant amounts of beta-carotene, fiber, folate and potassium. Eating papaya aids digestion, improves blood glucose control in diabetics, lowers blood pressure and may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Adults can get more than 100 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin C in just a single cup of fresh pineapple. It’s also a great source of manganese, which is critical to human development, metabolism and the body’s antioxidant system. Pineapple also contains bromelain, a mixture of enzymes that digest protein and reduce inflammation, especially in the nose and sinuses.
15. Sweet Corn
It is one of the best sources of dietary fiber and has good levels of B vitamins and several minerals, including copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. Corn is also an excellent source of ferulic acid, which may help preventing cancer and inflammation.
16. Sweet Peas
Sweet peas contain more fiber than most vegetables: Just one cup contains 14 grams. The Institute of Medicine recommends at least 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams for men under the age of 50. Peas also contain a polyphenol called coumestrol, which may help prevent stomach cancer.
17. Sweet Potato
They are packed with nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. In addition, because of their orange color, they are high in carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants. In addition, sweet potatoes are one of the best ways to get vitamin A: One baked, medium-sized sweet potato contains 438 percent of your daily value of vitamin A. By comparison, a white potato only contains 1 percent.
Watermelon is a great source of water — it’s 92 percent water — but the flesh is also packed with significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C. It is also a prime source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help prevent and treat prostate cancer.