Most Nutritious Vegetables: Top 5 Veggies Most Recommended By Experts

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for maintaining good health and preventing various health problems. And, of course, vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, as they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. But it’s not like they come with nutrition facts, and there are thousands of types to choose from. So, how do you know which are the most nutritious vegetables? To help, we’ve found the best of the best according to nutrition experts.  

You might be surprised that the most popular veggie in the U.S. isn’t one of the most nutritious. We’re talking about corn! In a survey of 2,000 Americans who were asked which vegetables they liked and disliked the most, a whopping 91.4 percent of respondents revealed corn as their top choice, and potatoes came in second place at 91.2 percent. However, the most surprising result of the study may be that a staggering number of adults haven’t eaten any vegetables their entire lives!

Many new parents are worried their kids aren’t getting the nutrition they need. A poll of 2,000 moms and dads found that 55 percent have a child with picky eating habits who is hesitant to try new foods. Even worse, 83 percent worry their kids might not get the nutrients they need because of their fussiness. If you’ve ever tried to change up foods on your picky eaters, you know it can be a struggle to even get them to taste it. So, it’s no surprise that four in 10 parents feel stressed when offering foods their children are unfamiliar with.  

Whether you can get your kids in on it or not, eating the five most nutritious vegetables in the list below can help you get the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs to function optimally. Hint: Corn didn’t make the list of experts’ recommendations for the best veggies to have during your next meal. So, keep reading to find out which they consider the healthiest vegetables. If we missed one of your favorites, let us know in the comments below!

The List: Most Nutritious Vegetables, According to Experts

1. Spinach

Healthline has this as their number one veggie, and here’s why: “That’s because 1 cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A plus 120% of the DV for vitamin K — all for just 7 calories. Spinach also boasts antioxidants, which may help reduce your risk of disease. One study found that dark leafy greens like spinach are high in beta carotene and lutein, two antioxidants that are associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Another study suggested that spinach may benefit heart health by helping reduce blood pressure.” 

“Spinach is a leafy green vegetable and a great source of calcium, vitamins, iron, and antioxidants. Due to its iron and calcium content, spinach is a great addition to any meat- or dairy-free diet. One cup of raw spinach is mostly made up of water and contains only 7 calories. It also provides an adult’s full daily requirement of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for a healthy body — especially for strong bones, as it improves the absorption of calcium,” Medical News Today writes. 

According to PureWow, “Popeye was onto something. Spinach is a superstar dark leafy green because it’s high in iron, potassium, magnesium and carotenoids (like vitamin A), as well as vitamins K, C, E and B. All that to say, it’s full of vitamins and minerals essential to blood clotting, bone metabolism and a healthy immune system, and antioxidants for anti-aging and anti-inflammation.”

person holding green leaf plant
Spinach leaves (Photo by Louis Hansel)

2. Watercress 

SciTechDaily raves about this vegetable: “Watercress tops the list of nutrient-dense vegetables per calorie. You’ll retain more of its vitamin C if you consume this leafy green raw. Along with vitamin C, watercress is rich in vitamin K, important for blood clotting and bone density, and beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A and an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Even more intriguing are the antioxidants in watercress, including phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). One study found that antioxidants in watercress suppress damage to DNA, a cell’s genetic material.” 

“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,” HowToCook.Recipes writes. “Watercress contains large amounts of vitamin K, which is essential for healthy blood clotting and strong bones. Watercress is also packed with vitamin A, which is important for healthy vision and keeping organs functional by supporting cell division.”

Food Republic reports their study findings: “Watercress ranks as the most nutrient-rich vegetable, while other leafy greens like chard, chicory and lettuce rank well.”

Watercress (Photo by Nebular Group on Unsplash)

3. Broccoli reveals what’s in it for you when you eat broccoli: “They’re rich in glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into the powerful antioxidant sulforaphane. This may help to improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as fight against oxidative stress. Glucoraphanin is linked to helping protect against certain types of cancer, a pretty major benefit. Broccoli is also an unexpected source of calcium, with 43 milligrams per cup.”

According to Almanac, “This popular dark green vegetable is a nutrition superstar, high in antioxidants that fight cancer. Beneficial for: Inhibiting cancerous cells. Great source of: Folate, fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C.”

“Broccoli is an antioxidant-rich cruciferous vegetable that can protect against adverse health conditions. Cruciferous veggies contain sulfur-containing phytochemicals called glucosinolates (and their byproduct sulforaphane). These sulfur-containing compounds support immune function and normal inflammatory processes and help the body remove toxins through natural detoxification processes of the liver. Research supports that intake of cruciferous vegetables is protective,” MindBodyGreen claims.

green plant on black textile
Broccoli (Photo by Miles Peacock on Unsplash)

4. Carrots

Ever heard that carrots are good for your eyes? GoodHousekeeping backs that up, saying, “Carrots are full of phytochemicals, such as beta-carotene, that your body converts to vitamin A, which helps with vision — especially at night. Studies also associate consumption of carotenoid-containing foods, like carrots, with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Carrots contain vitamins K and C, as well as potassium. The fiber contents of carrots can also help you meet your daily fiber needs.” 

Carrots may also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. Eating Well writes, “This nutrient-dense vegetable is rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber and potassium. Carrots also contain compounds that some research has found might reduce risk for certain cancers. One study, published in the journal Nutrients in 2020, found that higher self-reported intake of carrots was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.” 

Carrots (Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash)

5. Beet Greens 

Beets are exceptionally healthy, but don’t throw away their leafy green tops! They’re not just delicious, but WedMD says they have ample benefits: “Beet roots’ edible leafy tops are brimming with vitamin K, which is linked to a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes. One cup raw provides nearly twice your daily requirement.”

Stacker talks about how they also have vitamins A and C, plus flavonoids: “The leafy top of the beetroot plant, beet greens have more nutritional value than the root itself. They are high in vitamins A, C, and K, and flavonoids B-carotene and lutein, which may help in cancer prevention. They can be found at farmer’s markets year-round and can be added to salads, baked, or sauteed.”

green leaves on brown wooden surface
Beet greens (Photo by Olya on Unsplash)

Did your favorite vegetable make the list? Let us know down below in the comments!

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.