Vegetables rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber are essential for a healthy diet.

But some vegetables, commonly called “nutrient dense,” offer even more nutrient value per serving. Eating more nutrient-dense vegetables, meaning those that contain a lot of vitamins and minerals in every bite, helps keep your body in tip-top shape and your mind sharp.

Additionally, these foods tend to provide fewer calories (especially compared to processed foods) and are versatile ingredients for any soup, salad or main dish.

“The vast majority of healthy eating plans make vegetables the base of every meal,” says Cara Stewart, a registered dietitian at UPMC.

Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Buy bags of prewashed salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes to prepare a delicious salad in just a few minutes.

Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a stir-fry or soup. You can also add vegetables to your usual recipes, such as stews or lasagna.

Increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, can help you maintain a healthy weight while supporting your heart health and reducing your risk of developing diabetes or cancer.

Nutrient-rich vegetables

1. Watercress

Watercress is a powerful leafy green vegetable loaded with antioxidants and a valuable addition to any soup, salad or sandwich.

Eating more watercress, which is high in vitamin K, vitamin C and other nutrients, can reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. And if that were not enough, they contain calcium and potassium, which are essential minerals to keep your bones healthy.

Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting and regulating blood calcium levels. Vitamin C strengthens your immune system. For maximum health benefit, consume watercress raw or steamed.

2. Spinach

Adding spinach to your diet is one of the best things you can do for your body (if you haven’t already).

Spinach can improve the health of your eyes, skin, bones, and immune system, as well as help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, aid digestion, and promote the growth of healthy tissue. They are high in insoluble fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and calcium.

In your next salad, consider replacing typical iceberg lettuce with spinach, or add a handful to your next sandwich.

3. Kale

Kale, or kale , is a superfood that has become popular again in recent years, and for good reason.

It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, potassium, calcium and zinc.

Adding a serving of kale to your plate can improve your eye and bone health, boost your immune system, protect brain development, lower cholesterol, and even help prevent cancer.

Like most nutrient-dense vegetables, kale can help you maintain a healthy weight by making you feel fuller longer and on fewer calories.

4. Brussels sprouts

These round, nutrient-dense sprouts are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Eating plenty of Brussels sprouts supports iron absorption, tissue repair, immune function, and gut and bone health. It may even help protect you against chronic inflammation, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

Better yet, there are countless ways to add Brussels sprouts to your dishes as a tasty side dish, roasting them with garlic or baking them in a fragrant lemon sauce.

5. Turnip greens

Also known as turnip greens, turnip greens are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate.

Not only can this vegetable help boost your immune system, protect your eyes and bones, and help prevent cancer, but it can also make your skin and hair look radiant.

Vitamin A promotes the growth of body tissue, including skin and hair, keeping both healthy and hydrated. Turnip greens also contain choline, which contributes to sleep, learning, and memory.

You can add raw turnip greens to salads, sandwiches, wraps and soups. You can also add them to stews or sauté them in a sauce of your choice.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with antioxidants that reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar levels, boost immunity, and keep your heart healthy.

Packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium, broccoli also has a high level of a powerful antioxidant that can reduce cholesterol, oxidative stress and the development of chronic diseases. Uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and contribute to a number of chronic conditions.

Nutritionists recommend eating broccoli raw or lightly steamed to maximize its health benefits. You can add a pinch of fresh garlic—another nutrient-dense vegetable—for flavor.

7. Asparagus

Asparagus is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, iron, potassium, calcium and protein.

It promotes intestinal health, reduces blood pressure, relieves inflammation and helps prevent chronic diseases.

It can also help prevent urinary tract infections by working as a natural diuretic, removing excess fluid, bacteria, and salt from your body.

You can roast them, steam them, boil them, grill them, or even eat this long, thin vegetable raw. Try roasted asparagus dressed with garlic, lemon and Parmesan cheese, or add it to a salad or pasta dish.

8. Carrots

Carrots are rich in dietary carotenoids, which protect your immune system, promote skin health, and prevent aging. Most of it is converted to vitamin A in the intestine, which is essential for growth and eye health.

Adding carrots to your diet can also support cholesterol control, heart health, and gut health.

You can enjoy them raw as an appetizer, use them instead of breadsticks for a dip, add them to salads, cook them in soups, or include them in countless warming and comforting recipes.

9. Garlic

Studies show that, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, diets rich in garlic reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolism and blood pressure disorders.

Fresh garlic contains a chemical called alliin, which offers a number of health benefits, including antibiotic properties that help fight infections.

To transform the alliin in raw garlic into allicin (which is the form of alliin that provides these benefits), you can chew, mash, or slice it. You can also add it to countless dishes, sprinkling it on top or adding it to spicy and flavorful Italian recipes.

10. Peas

Also known as snap peas or green peas, these starchy vegetables have more calories and carbs than others on this list, but they’re also packed with fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.

They help strengthen your immune system, keep your energy levels high, promote your digestive health and reduce the risk of suffering from chronic diseases.

To learn about UPMC diet and nutrition services, visit .

Nota del editor: Este article se publicó por primera vez el , y se revisó por última vez el .

Acerca de UPMC Nutrition Services

La nutrición es vital para mantener su salud en general. UPMC Nutrition Services ofrece asesoramiento integral sobre dieta y nutrición en una variedad de temas, incluidos los trastornos alimentarios, el control del peso y las enfermedades cardíacas. Nuestro equipo brinda terapia de nutrición médica para afecciones crónicas como la enfermedad celíaca, el cáncer y la diabetes. La red de dietistas registrados de UPMC está disponible para ayudar a guiar a todos los pacientes hacia una vida más saludable.