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5 Veggie Superfoods You Need to Eat Right Now

These produce picks offer huge helpings of vitamins, minerals and other disease-fighting nutrients.

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As you cruise the produce aisle, do yourself a favor: Scoop up plenty of cruciferous vegetables—they’re the “killer apps” of the vegetable kingdom. Overlook this valuable veggie family and you’re missing a delicious, healthy way to fuel your body and feed the good bacteria in your gut as you load up on vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Named for their cross-shaped flowers, these veggies—including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower—have been closely associated with lowered cancer risk in numerous studies. Here are some of my favorite cruciferous vegetables—and delicious ways to enjoy them.

Arugula

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Don’t let arugula’s small, delicate leaves fool you—they pack all sorts of body-loving ingredients, including vitamins A, C and K, plus iron, potassium, magnesium and numerous beneficial phytochemicals. Also known as “rocket,” arugula consistently scores high as one of the healthiest foods you can eat, so putting more on your plate is a wellness no-brainer.

How to Use: With its peppery kick, arugula-based salads are a tasty, grown-up alternative to traditional lettuce and they mix easily with other greens like baby spinach, mustard greens and radicchio. Arugula is also a great sandwich topping for some extra zing. 

Bok Choy

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Call it bok choy or Chinese Cabbage, this cruciferous member of the cabbage tribe is an excellent source of carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamins A, B1, B2, C and K. Bok choy is also rich in calcium and folate and a raft of antioxidant compounds, some known for their cancer-fighting powers.

How to Use: Enjoy it frequently—not just in the occasional stir-fry. Shred a few of the mild, slightly sweet stems and toss into salads or wilt into soups. Instead of the same old steamed spinach side dish, try bok choy instead: Saute garlic in a bit of olive oil, add spices and then top with fresh fish, slices of organic poultry or grass-fed meat.

Brussels Sprouts

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These golf-ball sized cruciferous veggies are loaded with protein, fiber and vitamins A and C as well as glucosinolate, a phytonutrient that helps protect against cancer. Need more reasons to indulge? Brussels sprouts help support heart and eye health.

How to Use: When buying fresh Brussels sprouts, look for healthy-looking sprouts, preferably on the stalk. From there you can shred them and toss raw into salads or steam, roast, mash, saute or bake them. But whatever you do, don’t overcook them—that will degrade many of their protective nutrients.

Cabbage

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This under-appreciated nutritional powerhouse has so much to give! Cabbage is rich in phytochemical compounds that help reduce cancer risk. It delivers essential vitamins, including vitamins B1, B5, B6, C and K, and minerals, including potassium, iron and magnesium. They all help keep your heart, brain and immunity humming.

How to Use: You can stick with classics like coleslaw and sauerkraut (ferment your own for extra immunity-boosting power!) or branch out and try a few new dishes. Don’t feel like cooking? Then use the leaves as a wrap for leftovers or chop up a wedge, drizzle with oil and vinegar and voila! An inexpensive, instant, extra-crunchy salad.

Cauliflower

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Cauliflower has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep your heart and brain healthy, high levels of vitamins C and K and beta-carotene to keep immunity strong. It also delivers significant amounts of folate and fiber to support digestive health.

How to Use: A creamy, non-dairy cauliflower soup is a year-round treat, as is roasted or mashed cauliflower. You can make cauliflower fritters, cauliflower rice—the possibilities are endless, as are the benefits, so get cooking!

Dr. Lipman, an integrative medical specialist, is the author of The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness.

This content was originally published on Dr. Frank Lipman’s Be Well Blog.