The 32 Most Nutritionally Dense Vegetables According to the CDC

It’s common knowledge that we should all be eating vegetables, but how many vegetables a day do we need? The CDC recommends that adults eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day as part of a healthy lifestyle. For children, 1 to 3 cups of vegetables is ideal. While all vegetables offer a colorful array of benefits, choosing nutrient-dense vegetables is an excellent way to maximize nutritional intake and achieve a healthy balance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. This How To Cook Recipes infographic, using data from the CDC, highlights the most nutritionally dense vegetables to help you make smart choices for your family:

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The 32 Most Nutritionally Dense Vegetables According to the CDC

When considering the best vegetables for weight loss, nutrient density is an important factor because it means you can pack more nutrients into fewer calories. Even if weight loss is not a priority, choosing (the most nutritious vegetables) for you and your family can provide countless short- and long-term benefits. Here are just a few of the benefits of eating vegetables:

  1. A diet rich in vegetables can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  2. Vegetables can help prevent some types of cancer by protecting cells from DNA damage, deactivating carcinogens, and reducing inflammation.
  3. Vegetables can help keep your appetite in check by providing fiber and water.
  4. Vegetables provide antioxidants, which are essential for fighting against harmful free radicals. Having too many free radicals is linked to vision loss, arthritis, cancer, brain deterioration, and heart disease.
  5. Eating certain vegetables can help maintain steady blood sugar levels.
  6. A meta-analysis of studies following 469,551 participants discovered that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, with an average reduction in risk of 4% per additional serving of fruits and veggies daily.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Watercress?

Watercress is ranked number one on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables List with a nutrient density score of 100/100. Nutrient density compares the nutrients a food contains to the calories it provides, meaning that watercress is an extremely nutrient-dense food at only 4 calories per cup. Here are some additional benefits of watercress to consider:

  1. Watercress contains large amounts of vitamin K, which is essential for healthy blood clotting and strong bones.
  2. Watercress is also packed with vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision and keeping organs functional by supporting cell division.
  3. Watercress is rich in vitamin C, which supports immunity and promotes injury healing and healthy collagen production.
  4. Watercress is full of carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants can help to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. By reducing oxidative stress, less cell damage occurs, which can lower your risk of cancer and chronic illnesses like arthritis.
  5. Watercress provides key bone health minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. This can curb osteoporosis as you age.
  6. Watercress is abundant in potassium, which is one of the most vital minerals. Potassium regulates your heartbeat, salt levels, bone health, and blood pressure.

By eating more nutrient-dense vegetables, we can better maintain our health and longevity. Fortunately, there are countless wonderful ways to incorporate more veggies in your dishes. I hope the recipes here will inspire you to experiment and eat a more well-rounded diet!

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This page was last updated by Megan Miller