Which Vegetables Are the Healthiest, And How Well Can Americans Identify Them?

Eating better means adding a variety of healthy vegetables to your diet, but which vegetables are the most nutritious and healthiest for you to eat? And how knowledgeable is the American public when it comes to identifying the healthiest vegetables? The team at How To Cook Recipes created a Google Survey to poll more than a thousand Americans to see how well they could identify the most nutritious vegetables. In the survey, we also asked Americans what the best vegetable to eat was, and broccoli turned out to be the clear winner.

To determine what is the healthiest vegetable and which are the least healthy, our team analyzed Intake Health’s vegetables list, which ranks them best to worst based on their overall nutrient density score. Each vegetable’s nutrient density score is based on its mineral density, vitamin density, fiber density, sugar density, fat quality, and macronutrient balance. Which types of vegetables do you think will score the highest on our vegetable chart?

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Which Vegetables Are the Healthiest, And How Well Can Americans Identify Them?

What Do Americans Think Is the Healthiest Vegetable and the Least Healthy?

A majority of Americans surveyed did not select the correct answer when asked what the healthiest vegetable was. More than half of Americans chose spinach as the healthiest option, but just 9% of those surveyed got the answer right with collard greens. Those surveyed didn’t fare much better when it came to selecting the least healthy vegetable. Only 17% chose cucumber pickles, the right answer, while 44% thought sweet corn was the least healthy of all vegetables.

We also surveyed Americans on which vegetable they thought had the most fiber and the most sugar. For the vegetable with the most fiber, 42% of Americans chose celery, while just 14% were correct in their selection of wax gourds. Americans were also stumped on the vegetable with the most sugar, as 47% chose sweet corn and only 5% chose the correct answer of green tomatoes. One of our other survey questions also tripped up Americans: “Which type of potato is the healthiest?” Sixty percent of Americans chose the sweet potato, although sweet potatoes are actually the least healthy of all potato types. The healthiest potato is the red potato.

What Is the Healthiest Vegetable?

The healthiest vegetable is collard greens, which has a nutrient density score of 20.039. Collard greens are the healthiest option in the list of all vegetables due to their high density of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. They were also found to have low scores for both sugar and macronutrient balance, which aided their high nutrient density score.

The 10 Healthiest Vegetables

  1. Collard greens
  2. Asparagus
  3. Romaine lettuce
  4. Okra
  5. Brussels sprouts
  6. Radicchio
  7. Chives
  8. Red leaf lettuce
  9. Green snap beans
  10. Savoy cabbage

Which Vegetable Is the Least Healthy?

The least healthy vegetable is a cucumber pickle. Pickles earned a nutrient density score of 11.533, nearly half the score of the best vegetable! Cucumber pickles were found to have less mineral and vitamin density, although they were found to contain a large amount of fiber. They were also found to have one of the highest sugar scores of all vegetables.

A cucumber is much healthier before it is pickled. Cucumbers with the peel on have a nutrient density score of 17.668, putting them at the halfway point on the list of the healthiest vegetables.

What Is America’s Favorite Vegetable to Eat?

We wanted to find out which vegetable is Americans’ favorite to eat, so we included an open-ended question in the survey. This question received more than 500 responses that spanned 81 different vegetables. Broccoli was a clear winner with 15% of the vote, although almost none of the responses we received had actually spelled broccoli correctly; apparently, it’s much easier to eat than to spell!

Americans’ Top 10 Favorite Vegetables to Eat

  1. Broccoli: 15.0%
  2. Corn: 9.8%
  3. Brussels sprouts: 6.4%
  4. Carrots: 6.2%
  5. Sweet potato: 5.0%
  6. Potato: 4.6%
  7. Spinach: 4.2%
  8. Green beans: 3.6%
  9. Beets: 3.4%
  10. Tomato/Asparagus (tied): 3.0%

Now that you’ve got a better idea of the nutrients in vegetables, will you be working more of the good vegetables into your diet? An easy way to increase the amount of healthy veggies you eat is to add them to dishes you’re already cooking. Vegetables can easily be added to a frittata, for instance, or hidden within the sauce of a lasagna.


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This page was last updated by Megan Miller