Consuming vegetables is vital to a healthy, balanced diet. In some cases, if you regularly eat these foods, you may reduce the risk of certain chronic disease, notes the USDA. Generally, vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, do not contain cholesterol and are rich in nutrients like potassium fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and E. Dark green vegetables are particularly beneficial to your health. Although vegetables amounts needed vary by individual, women and men 19 to 30 years of age should eat about 2 ½ cups and 3 cups each day, respectively.
Dark Green Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous dark green vegetables include broccoli, bok choy, turnip greens and arugula. Both the soft florets and crunchy stalks of broccoli, for example, are a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, folate and fiber. Cruciferous refers to the shape of the vegetable’s flowers, generally four petals that resemble a cross. According to Adrianne Bendich and Richard Deckelbaum in the book “Preventive Nutrition,” cruciferous dark vegetables are rich in glucosinolates that may help prevent prostate cancer; however, further research is warranted.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables may be instrumental in preventing certain cancer types and promoting health heart, notes the Center for Young Women’s Health. These veggies are rich in fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, E, K and D, and require a dietary fat like extra virgin olive oil for proper absorption. Dark leafy vegetables include dandelion and collard greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. Additionally, spinach, in particularly, is an excellent source of iron.
Dark Green Legumes
Green beans and soybean are part of the legume family and are high in protein and antioxidants. Green beans, for example, are an excellent source of carotenoids and may be comparable to colorful vegetables like carrots and tomatoes, according to Andreas Moritz and John Hornecker in the book “Simple Steps to Total Health.” In fact, green beans are twice as high in iron as spinach. Alternatively, soybeans are a complete protein -- meaning they contain the essential nine amino acids comparable to meat items. Regularly eating soy may help reduce cholesterol, prevent cancer and improve the health of your heart due to the presence of isoflavones, according to Monique Gilbert in her book “Virtues of Soy.”
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Why is it Important to Eat Vegetables?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: How Many Vegetables are Needed Daily?
- “Preventive Nutrition”; Adrianne Bendich and Richard Deckelbaum; 2009
- Center for Young Women's Health: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
- “Simple Steps to Total Health”; Andreas Moritz and John Hornecker; 2006
- “Virtues of Soy”; Monique Gilbert; 2000