Vegetables – are some more equal than others?

As someone who rarely meets the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables, I’m always looking for ways to ‘cheat’. Cheating the system entails such things as counting potato crisps and French fries as vegetable serves. Yes, the potato is technically a vegetable. But I know I’m only fooling myself when counting a bucket of chips as a ‘healthy’ serve.

Of course, I’m not alone in trying to delude myself in this way. (Or as bad as my brother-in-law, who once claimed a bowl of Fruit Loops as a ‘fresh fruit serve’.) But I don’t want that to be an excuse. So the time has come to face the truth about vegetables.

Potatoes clearly don’t top the list when it comes to ranking vegetables from a health perspective. But which ones do? And are there vegetables that I should be putting into the same ‘sin bin’ as spuds?

Getting vegetables ex-Zac-tly right

According to Dr Zac Turner, medical practitioner and co-owner of telehealth service Concierge Doctors, some vegetables clearly outrank others, health-wise.

Dr Turner recently nominated six ‘five-star’ vegies. No prizes for guessing that potatoes aren’t on Dr Turner’s list, but are any of the six regulars for you?

In no particular order, here are Dr Turner’s star vegetables.

  1. Beetroot – When I said, “in no particular order” I may have lied just a little bit, because I love beetroot. According to Dr Turner, beetroot are rich in several nutrients and contain nitrates, These may help improve blood sugar levels and athletic performance.
  2. Broccoli – I’m not unhappy about this inclusion either. I’ve never liked cauliflower, but broccoli that’s not been steamed to within an inch of its life is nice. What’s more, broccoli “contains sulforaphane, a compound that may protect against cancer. It’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals.”
  3. Brussels sprouts ­– One of my least favourite vegetables, although I’m told this is almost certainly a result of it being cooked the wrong way in my childhood. Brussels sprouts contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may protect against oxidative damage to your cells and help prevent chronic disease. And, says Dr Turner, they’re rich in fibre and many other essential nutrients. I’m not sure if that revelation is enough for me to give them another chance, but I’ll think about it!

No! In fact the second half his ‘healthy six’ is ‘first letter B’-free:

  • Rocket – I’m quite happy to see rocket – or ‘roquette’ as I like to (correctly) call it when trying to impress someone – on this list. Rocket lettuce makes a nice filler for any sandwich while delivering high levels of vitamin C. It’s also a source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and folate.
  • Spinach – Another vegetable that haunted me as a kid, but one I now embrace because it’s very nice as a component of eggs Florentine. Spinach is packed with antioxidants and vitamin K. This makes it likely to benefit heart health and reduce disease risk.
  • Sweet potato – Surprise! Potatoes do make Dr Turner’s ‘healthy six’ list! Admittedly not your stock standard white potatoes, but sweet potatoes can act as an excellent substitute. And becoming accustomed to its slightly different taste shouldn’t be too hard for most. Sweet potatoes have the advantage over regular potatoes of beta carotene, which may decrease your risk of lung cancer. Sweet potatoes may also help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

So there you have it folks. If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, including these six vegetables is not a bad place to start.

How would you describe your daily vegetable intake? Could it be better? Which of Dr Turner’s ‘healthy six’ vegetables do you like? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: Vegetable Pasta Bake

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