Vegetable Nutrient Chart: How Healthy Vegetables Truly Are?

Do you remember how our parents used to talk about vegetables being the healthiest food, and how they forced us to eat as many veggies as possible?

Now, the day has come for us to do the same to our kids because we know how packed with nutrition vegetables truly are.

Vegetables are the source of all things good that a body needs to grow and survive. They provide a complete list of nutrients to our body: minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Therefore, it is only logical that we need to have an impactful amount of veggies in our diets, while also keeping it balanced and incorporating all the nutrients.

Further Reading: Vegetable Cooking Times - How Long To Cook Fresh/Frozen Vegetables?

Why is the vegetable nutrient chart important?

To be able to use all the nutrients that vegetables provide us, you need to know what the vegetable nutrition chart is like. This can help you plan your meals and diet, narrow the list of vegetables that are suitable and affordable for your needs, as well as what your body needs and what it might be deprived of.

All the nutrients are necessary for our bodies, so it is essential to balance all of them in order to have optimal results. With more knowledge of the vegetable nutrient chart, you will learn to know which nutrients, and in which amount, are vital for your body, as well as how to never let yourself lack any of the vitamins.

In order for you to understand better what are these nutrients, what they provide for our bodies and why they are so valuable to us, I will list the most important ones:

1. Minerals

Minerals are the first on this list, as they include some of the essential nutrients. They include sodium, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc, manganese and many others.

  • The mineral you are probably most familiar with is Calcium, as we know it's essential for growth and bones, and our parents always talked about that. However, it's not just children who need the daily dose of calcium, so don't let the wrong information fool you. Adults need around 100mg per day, whereas children need around 800-1300mg per day. Calcium is found in vegetables such as amaranth, celery, kale, sprouts, French beans, okra, Swiss chard, etc.
  • Copper is also quite necessary for our metabolism and normal bodily functions, even though it's not one of the often mentioned minerals. The amount of copper that we daily need to intake is only around 3mg. It can be obtained from veggies such as potatoes, beans, pumpkin, peas, artichoke, amaranth, etc.
  • Iodine is another mineral that is recommended in different amounts for adults and children, but in this case, children need less of it - around 70-100mg. Adults, on the other hand, require about 150mg of iodine per day. Iodine can be found in vegetables that are grown in iodine-rich soil.
  • Iron is one of the more known minerals, but it's more valuable for children and teenagers that are still in development. The recommended daily dose of iron for children and teenagers is 15mg, whereas adults need only about 10mg. Vegetables rich in iron are brussels sprouts, squash, peas, leeks, butternuts, etc.

I didn't want to overwhelm you guys with information, so I didn't go too much in-depth about all the vegetables that contain certain minerals. However, a lot of the vegetables listed above provide some other minerals that I listed above but didn't talk about.

2. Vitamins

Vitamins (just like minerals) are considered to be one of the essential nutrients because they act together and perform hundreds of roles in our bodies that we aren't even aware of.

  • Vitamins help bolster our immune system, heal wounds and keep our bones healthy, but most importantly, they repair cellular damage and convert food into energy. For these reasons, vitamins are essential for both adults and children, but in different amounts. 
  • Almost all vitamins, like A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, D, E, and K can be found in vegetables that most people eat regularly. Some of these vegetables are broccoli, leaves, cabbage, carrots, alfalfa, potatoes, leeks, squash, taro, chard, amaranth, brussels sprouts, mushrooms...The list goes on.

It's important to say that every single vegetable has at least a couple of vitamins so whichever you choose, you can't go wrong. However, if you want more precise details and a more balanced diet, you need to check the specifics of every vegetable.

3. Protein

Protein is probably the most rarely found nutrient in vegetables. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't find your daily dose of protein in some of your favorite veggies - you just need to know where to look.

Everything and everyone needs protein to live, so it is essential for both children and adults to consume the recommended dose. Protein gives you energy and is necessary for all bodily functions, but it's also great for losing weight.

Of course, a lot of protein comes from meat and dairy products, but there are a lot of proteins found in vegetables as well. If you are a vegetarian or vegan reading this, grab a pen and paper and start writing these down.

Some of the protein-rich vegetables are peas, corn, spinach, artichokes, sprouts, broccoli, kale, mushrooms, asparagus, brussels sprouts, etc.

  • Peas are one of my favorite vegetables and are packed with protein. They have some of the highest protein found in vegetables, and you can use them fresh or frozen. Even if you don't want a whole meal centered around them, you can add a handful of peas to any salad and get a little protein boost.
  • Spinach is well known since Popeye convinced us all in its fantastic benefits. However, it's not good just for strength. Spinach is a tremendous source of protein, and it's packed with minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and a lot of protein.
  • Kale is undoubtedly one of the superfoods amongst vegetables. It's an excellent choice if you are looking for a protein source, as well as something to add to a casserole, soup, smoothies or any kind of salad.
  • Broccoli is high in fiber, minerals, antioxidants and, of course, proteins. With a large variety of valuable nutrients, broccoli is one of my go-to greens and probably the vegetable I eat most often. Apart from putting some broccoli in soups, salads or simply steaming or frying it, I sometimes even eat it raw. You can't go wrong with broccoli!
  • Sprouts come in a lot of varieties, so you can try mixing them for more flavor. What I love about sprouts is that they are living up until the moment you pick them - it can't get any fresher than that. Anyway, they are a nice addition to sandwiches and salads and a great source of protein.
  • Mushrooms are incredibly healthy and offer an astonishing amount of nutrients and immune system boosting properties. They are light, but also quite filling when prepared with the main course, but most importantly, they are packed with protein.
  • Brussels sprouts weren't exactly my favorite vegetable when I was younger, but I came around to love them eventually and, therefore, I have received various health benefits. They are not only packed with protein, but also fiber, so this is an excellent choice if you want to lose weight, as well as eat healthily.
  • Artichokes are a source of protein, therefore are filling and go well as a part of any meal. You can prepare and use them in many different ways, including steaming, blending and roasting - they are delicious anyway.
  • Asparagus is quite high in both fiber and protein, which fills you up. However, the most important feature of asparagus is that it helps your body with detoxification. That's why I always try to have some asparagus on the side.
  • Corn is also high in protein, but also fiber, and it is a truly fantastic addition to salads and various meals. My favorite, however, is eating it fresh from the cob, and my kids always loved that as well.

4. Carbohydrates

We always knew that vegetables are good for us. However, if you've been in the phase where you want to lose weight and decide to exclude carbs from your diet completely, you made a bad choice. The dietary guidelines suggest that carbohydrates should make up almost the half of our daily calorie intake.

The primary purpose of carbs in the diet is to give us energy. Most carbs get broken down into glucose, which is later used as energy, but fiber is an exception. It doesn't provide energy directly, but it does wonders for the friendly bacteria in your digestive system.

Now, even though carbohydrates are absolutely necessary for our diets, you might prefer a low-carb diet, or, on the other hand, a high-carb diet. These are either personal preferences or advice from a doctor, but whichever you want to go for, you want to make sure the carbs you do intake are right for you. That's why you come to the good old vegetables, as they are a source of everything good.

  • Low-carb vegetables are usually the ones that contain a lot of water. There are many vegetables with low carbs, and they include all kinds of leafy greens (for example arugula, lettuce, spinach, watercress, etc.). Watery, low-carb vegetables are also mushrooms, broccoli, bell pepper, asparagus, cucumber, cauliflower, endive, artichokes and many more. These vegetables are, despite the low carb levels, incredibly nutritious and rich with fiber, so you should definitely include them in your daily dietary plan. But, you should keep in mind that they won't satisfy the recommended daily carb intake.
  • High-carb vegetables are usually the starchy ones, such as corn, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, winter squash, etc. These vegetables are higher in carbs than the watery ones, but they also provide more energy. Another great thing is that these vegetables provide a lot of fiber and healthy nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamin C and lutein.

5. Fats

Some people wrongly assume that all fats are bad for you. Let me clear things up for you: some fats are good, some fats are bad. The fats that come from vegetables are good fats, and those fats are essential for our bodies to work correctly.

The amount of fat in vegetables is minor compared to the fat in some other foods that are high-calorie and high-fat, but that is no reason to stray away from the good old veggies. You just need to know which vegetables contain the most fats, and you will easily be able to reach your daily fat intake goal.

Even if you're on a weight-loss journey, you shouldn't forget about fats. They regulate body temperature, help your body absorb certain vitamins, provide a source of energy, help build and develop body and brain cells and also protect all of your vital organs. You see? Fats can be good for you!

  • Olives, being an excellent choice for any salad or pasta toppings, are easy to consume, and they provide your body with healthy monosaturated fats. They are also good for your heart, as they help to lower the cholesterol levels.
  • Corn is a starchy vegetable with a satisfying amount of monosaturated fats that are good for you.
  • White potatoes are starchy, just like corn, and they too can provide some healthy fats for you. There are more starchy vegetables worth mentioning, such as pumpkin and butternut squash.

The fat in all of these starchy vegetables comes from healthy fats, and that's why they are good choices with a lot of nutritious value.

When I talk about fatty vegetables, I can't avoid mentioning lentils, beans, and peas of all kinds. Soybeans have a noticeably high percentage of fat, as the fat makes up more than 40% of its calories. Kidney beans and black beans are also a good source of healthy fats, just like cooked peas and lentils.

Arm yourself with nutritional veggies

Many people don't have a lot of time on their hands, and they forget to consume enough vegetables. Another problem is that people aren't well informed about the health benefits of vegetables and they are often swiped under the rug.

I hope you found this helpful and maybe you will include even more veggies in your diet. It's worth it - and it's delicious! Now go stock up on your favorite choice of nutritious veggies.

Happy cooking! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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