Individual Uses and Benefits of Vegetables
Similar to the article that presented an exhaustive list of fruits and their benefits, this section will do the same by presenting the uses and benefits of vegetables. There are various common and uncommon vegetables in this section but not every detail about each individual nutrient contained in each vegetable is presented. Like fruits, vegetables contain a wide variety of nutrients and minerals and this section presents a condensed and simplified version to illustrate the specific health benefits of each item. Also, before reading this article, have a look at our Vitamin and Mineral Guide, so you can be familiar with some of the vitamins and minerals mentioned in this article. Additionally, there may be certain unfamiliar terms within this article, so use the Glossary of Terms while reading this article.
ü Alfalfa – contains Vitamins A, B, C and K, as well several other essential vitamins and minerals. It detoxifies the liver, aids in weight loss, treats menopause symptoms, urinary tract infections, high cholesterol and diabetes, while also aiding in digestion.
ü Artichoke – contains folic acid, Vitamins B and C, iron and copper. It is also a good source of Vitamin K (good for bone health), fibre (good for constipation) and potassium (good for controlling heart rate and blood pressure). Artichokes have antioxidant properties and have been known to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
ü Arugla – have anti-cancer (against skin, lung and oral cavity cancers specifically), anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It provides a good source of folic acid, Vitamins A, B, C and K and also contains copper and iron.
ü Asparagus – contains folate and therefore is a great vegetable for maintaining good heart health and has also been shown to prevent cognitive decline. It is a good source of fibre, Vitamins A, C, E and K and contains high amounts of asparagines which help the body to get rid of excess fluids and salts.
ü Bamboo shoots – contain iron, copper and potassium and are rich in B vitamins. They help to control the body’s heart rate and blood pressure and its fibre content can reduce colon and rectal cancer risk.
ü Basella (vine Spinach) – a good source of antioxidants and Vitamins A, B and C. It aids in digestion and eases constipation and is also a good source of minerals such as potassium, iron and copper to name a few.
ü Beans – very rich in dietary fibre and Vitamin A. They also contain good amounts of folate, Vitamins B6 and C and iron. Beans help to lower cholesterol, offer some protection against various eye problems and also have antioxidant properties.
ü Beets – contain Vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, iron, folate and fibre. Red beets specifically contain betacyanin, which can protect against colon cancer. They are excellent for detoxifying the blood, offer protection to the liver and bile ducts and have been shown to be a great aid in blood oxygenation thus helping in enhancing exercise performance. Beet juice helps alleviate menstrual disturbances and menopause symptoms as well.
ü Bell Peppers – have a high amount of beta carotene and carotenoids which act as strong antioxidants in the body. They are also rich in Vitamin C, which aids in the healing of cuts and keeping teeth and gums healthy and Vitamin A which helps maintain healthy eyes and skin.
ü Bitter gourd – good source of Vitamins A, B and C and flavonoids such as beta carotene and alpha carotene. It can help to reduce blood sugar levels and aids in digestion; also has antioxidant properties.
ü Broccoli – rich in Vitamin C (actually has more than an orange!), calcium, fibre and Vitamin A; contains anti-tumour properties and a health promoting compound (sulforaphane) that can help fight cancer. It also has antioxidant and detoxifying properties.
ü Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) – has antioxidant properties; contains a collection of vitamins and plant chemicals that help protect against breast, colon and prostate cancer, while reducing cholesterol levels. It contains vitamin A, C and K, and is also a good source of the B vitamins.
ü Brussels Sprout – boosts the body’s immune system and protects against a variety of diseases including malignant tumours.
ü Cabbage – anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant vegetable. It is rich in sulfur which helps to purify the blood.
ü Cactus pears – has antioxidant properties due to its beta carotene and Vitamin C content.
ü Carrot – this vegetable has the richest source of beta carotene and is an excellent source of antioxidants. Beta carotenes help to maintain healthy skin, eyes and protect against certain kinds of cancer (lung, breast and colon). Carrots also boost the immune system and its rich fibre content means it is also good for maintaining bowel health. The Vitamin A content in the carrot means it can be considered anti-aging vegetable as it helps prevent premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, blemishes and uneven skin tone.
ü Cassava – young cassava are especially good sources of proteins and Vitamin K. It also contains some B vitamins and is a chief source of various minerals such as copper and iron and potassium.
ü Cauliflower – restricts the activity of cancer-causing agents in the body.
ü Celery – high in Vitamin C and thus is useful in reducing the symptoms of the cold. It can reduce hypertension and high blood pressure and also helps to rehydrate the body making it good to consume post-exercise. Celery has high levels of silicon which aids in the strengthening of joints, bones, arteries and connective tissues and can help to relieve constipation and aids in detoxification. It has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
ü Chard – anti-inflammatory vegetable. High in Vitamin B6, E and K (which helps to clot the blood and prevent fracturing of bones), and also contains calcium. It is a good vegetable for diabetics as it protects the kidneys from damage and it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
ü Chilli Peppers (also known as jalapeño and cayenne pepper) – very rich in Vitamin C, protein, beta carotene, calcium and iron to name a few. They can aid in the treatment of arthritis, asthma, blood circulation, haemorrhoids, obesity and diabetes and have great benefits to the circulatory and digestive system.
ü Collard greens – high in chlorophyll, Vitamin A, C, beta carotene and manganese; have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
ü Corn – reduces the risks of haemorrhoids, heart disease and colon cancer. Contains a number of the essential vitamins and minerals including the B vitamins, Vitamin A, phosphorus, zinc and iron. Corn has antioxidant properties, lowers cholesterol, prevents anaemia and controls diabetes.
ü Cucumbers – are high in water and potassium and aid in lowering cholesterol. They are a great source of Vitamin A, C and K and help to improve hair, skin and nails.
ü Dandelion – high in Vitamin K, dandelion is a diuretic. It is very good for the bones and kidneys.
ü Eggplant – has anti-cancer properties.
ü Elecampane – this member of the daisy family has been used as a digestive aid and to settle upset stomachs. It contains a chemical called alantolactone that can be used to expel worms and parasites from the digestive system. This vegetable has also been proven to be effective in treating respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis. In addition it has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties.
ü Endive (escarole) – the high fibre content in this vegetable can help reduce glucose and cholesterol levels in those who suffer from obesity and diabetes. It contains Vitamins A and B and various minerals and has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
ü Fennel – contains Vitamin C, folate, potassium and fibre. It has antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and is great for cardiovascular and colon health. Fennel can be used to treat digestive disorders, gas and intestinal cramps; relieves the symptoms of menopause and has some success in treating asthma, depression, heartburn, high blood pressure and decreased libido.
ü Fenugreek – aids in the health of the skin, respiratory system and pancreas. High in Vitamins A, C and also the B vitamins; fenugreek also acts as a detoxifier for the body.
ü Fiddlehead ferns – have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties and are very high in Vitamins A and C. They help ease the symptoms of cough and cold.
ü Garlic – is a natural antibiotic (it has been scientifically proven that garlic is 100 times more effective than regular antibiotic medication in killing bacteria from food poisoning), a fungicide, a cleanser and an antioxidant. It can help treat colds, cancer, arthritis, sore throats and aids in detoxifying the liver. Garlic provides great support to the body’s immune, circulatory and urinary systems and is a good source of folic acid, Vitamin K and iron.
ü Ginger – great for treating colds, sore throat, menstrual cramps, digestive problems and bronchitis. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and expectorant properties (which explains why it is good for colds). Ginger aids in lowering blood pressure and has been known to treat nausea and nausea related issues such as motion sickness and morning sickness.
ü Horseradish – provides a good source of dietary fibre and also contains good sources of the essential vitamins and minerals. It aids in digestion and can help remove harmful substances from body. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant and detoxifying properties.
ü Jicama – high in fibre, calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin C and also has antioxidant properties.
ü Kale – has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties (for certain types) and is great for the skin and eyes. It has been known to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and also detoxifies the body and keeps the liver healthy. Kale is high in Vitamins A, C and K, calcium, iron, chlorophyll, and also contains potassium and iron.
ü Kohlrabi – contains Vitamin C, calcium, and iron. This vegetable boosts the immune system and prevents cancer and heart disease.
ü Leeks – have a high water content and also have antioxidant and antibiotic properties.
ü Lettuce – excellent source of Vitamins A, C, K and a few of the B vitamins including folate. It has ant-inflammatory, antispasmodic and expectorant properties and has been found to be useful in treating ulcers, constipation and insomnia.
ü Mashua – has antibiotic and diuretic properties and can be used to treat kidney disease, eliminate bladder and kidney stones, skin ulcers and lice. Tends to have anaphrodisiac effects, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, calcium and iron can be found in this vegetable.
ü Mizuna – popular Japanese leafy vegetable. High in many essential vitamins and minerals and has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
ü Mushrooms – immune system boosters with anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-hypertensive, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic properties. They also help to lower the cholesterol, prevent blood clots by thinning the blood and are rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals.
ü Mustard greens – excellent source of Vitamin A; keep eyes and skin healthy and protect the body from infections.
ü Okra – rich in fibre and thus aids in relieving constipation. It is a great vegetable for those feeling low on energy, weak and depressed. Okra offers protection against diabetes, aids in good eye health and boosts the immune system. It also has anti-cancer properties, specifically colon, liver, kidney, lung and oral cavity cancers.
ü Onions – have antioxidant properties; also high in chromium which lowers blood sugar levels and they are also great for preserving bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
ü Pea sprouts – contain high levels of Vitamins A and C and folic acid and also contains Vitamins B and E, calcium, iron and potassium and amino acids. They have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
ü Parsnips – contain Vitamins C, B, E and K, protein, iron and calcium and also provide a great source of silicon which helps in keeping bones healthy. They reduce the risk of osteoporosis, aid in blood clotting, boost the immune system, act as a diuretic, help relieve constipation and lower high blood pressure. Parsnips are also useful for preventing and treating anaemia in pregnancy and reduce the risk of birth defects in newborns. They have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
ü Potatoes – ease indigestion and constipation and contain most of the essential vitamins and minerals. However, potatoes have been known to contain pesticide residues so it is best to use only organically grown potatoes. They are best consumed with the skin on to preserve their nutrients.
ü Radishes – great for detoxifying the body and for digestion. It has anti-viral and anti-mucus properties, meaning it is great for colds.
ü Rampion – contains calcium, iron and phosphorus. This strengthens and purifies the body and has anti-inflammatory properties; has been known to treat angina.
ü Rhubarb – low in sodium and saturated fat which means it is good for the prevention of heart diseases. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and K, calcium and fibre. Rhubarb boosts the immune system, strengthens bones and teeth, lowers cholesterol and can offer protection against diabetes. It also has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
ü Rocket – boosts the immune system, and protects the heart from diseases. Also has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties (specifically against prostate, breast cervical, colon and ovarian cancer). It is a good source of the B vitamins, as well as Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
ü Salsify – provides an excellent source of dietary fibre and also contains essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, C, folate and calcium.
ü Scallions – these have anti cancer properties.
ü Spinach – contains 12 different flavanoid compounds that act as antioxidants and are useful against some specific malignant tumours; boosts the immune system as well. It also contains iron, potassium and vitamins A, K, C and the B-vitamin folate. Spinach is one of the highest sources of lutein, which serves to protect the eye from disorders and fights cancer.
ü Squash – rich in potassium and Vitamin A and keeps skin healthy. It also protects against infections, prevents muscle cramps and keeps blood pressure low.
ü Strawberries – high in Vitamin C and therefore has antioxidant, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. They are good for lowering blood pressure and boosting the immune system and also contain Vitamin K (good for bone health).
ü Sugar snap peas – good source of dietary fibre, Vitamins A, C and K and potassium. They are good for weight control and have antioxidant properties.
ü Sunflower sprouts – these are rich in protein, linoleic acid, Vitamins A, B, D and E and also contain calcium iron and phosphorous. Its high chlorophyll content means that it can purify the blood as well. It is a great vegetable for the skin and hair, it detoxifies the body and has been found to be good for brain functioning.
ü Swede –good source of fibre, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It is high in Vitamin C, the B vitamins and also contains Vitamins A, E and K. Minerals such as iron, zinc, copper are found in swede. It also enhances stamina, aids in digestion, increases the milk production in lactating mothers, protects the eyes from diseases such as cataract, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system and prevents cancer and heart disease.
ü Sweet potatoes – contain all the essential vitamins and minerals and has less sodium that the regular potato. Due to its high flavonoid content, it can help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
ü Tomato – this is a great source of Vitamin C and potassium. It promotes good mental and physical health and has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties.
ü Turmeric – member of the ginger family, it can be used to help fight infections and ease digestive problems. Turmeric has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and contains iron, manganese and a pigment called curcumin, which is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties.
ü Turnips – contain so many nutrients that it can help prevent or heal a wide variety of health conditions including heart disease and cancer.
$1ü Watercress – high in Vitamin C and calcium and also contains Vitamin A, B6, E and K. It reduces DNA damage to the blood cells but also enables the cells to fight off any further damage to the DNA. It is also good for the eyes, blood, liver, skin, hair and nails.
ü Wheat Grass – high in chlorophyll meaning it is ideal for fighting infections. It contains beta carotene, Vitamins B12, C and E, calcium and folic acid and also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antibiotic properties.
ü Yams – rich in vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese and contain small amounts of some of the B vitamins. They offer protection against cancer, inflammation, coughs and colds and can also regulate cholesterol levels. Yams also have antioxidant properties and can provide a source of energy.
ü Zucchinis – great for Vitamin A and niacin (Vitamin B3). They have antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and can also act as a diuretic and offer protection to the eyes. Zucchini juice can also help prevent bone brittleness.
As you can see, vegetables have fantastic health benefits that can enable us to live long and healthy lives. Both vegetables and fruits should be consumed daily especially for those suffering from various ailments as they can aid in both healing and recovery. If we have missed any vegetable from our list, please let us know so we can include it in any future updated versions of this article.
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