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Vegetables that get a bad rap

By The Health News Team | February 15, 2022
Roasted potatoes

It’s no secret that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Yet, some vegetables get a bad rap as being less healthy.

According to Lauren DeWolf, RD, a registered dietitian and wellness education specialist with Sharp Rees-Stealy’s Center for Health Management, certain vegetables might be more nutrient-dense than others. These vegetables tend to get all the attention as superfoods. However, every vegetable has something to offer nutritionally.

“Oftentimes, the processing and preparation method can have a big impact on the final nutritional profile of a vegetable choice,” she says.

DeWolf reports that although the following four vegetables often get a bad reputation, they don’t necessarily need to be eliminated from your diet:

  1. Potatoes
    You may have heard that you should eliminate white foods from your diet. Generally, this can help reduce the amount of refined, processed foods we eat, such as white sugars and white flours. However, this thinking doesn’t necessarily apply in the same sense to vegetables. Cauliflower, garlic, onion, turnips and potatoes are all white vegetables and have many redeeming qualities.
    Potatoes offer nutritional benefits, such as fiber, protein, potassium, vitamin C and phytonutrients. When we peel and deep fry potatoes, the final result is a calorie-dense food that is difficult to moderate. However, when we prepare potatoes in a manner that minimizes added fat, they can serve as a healthy choice. Additionally, baked potatoes can be a blank canvas for other nutritious toppings, such as broccoli, black beans, salsa and avocado.

  2. Peas
    Peas are categorized as a starchy vegetable, which some people may equate to a bad choice nutritionally. For those managing their blood glucose levels, consuming starchy vegetables requires some balancing and moderation of total carbohydrate intake from their meals and snacks. However, not only does a half-cup serving of peas provide 4 grams of fiber, but it also packs 4 grams of protein, in addition to a wealth of vitamins and minerals — all for under 60 calories.
    Frequently sold frozen, peas are a convenient add-in to soups, stir-fries and other mixed dishes. Easy-to-incorporate veggies such as peas can make a difference between getting in a serving versus skipping them.

  3. Iceberg lettuce
    While iceberg lettuce isn’t as nutritionally dense as other leafy greens, it does have redeeming qualities. Lettuce is high in water content and provides a crunchy texture for meals. Iceberg lettuce also provides folate, potassium and calcium.
    In addition, iceberg lettuce is a low-calorie choice at just 10 calories per cup. Adding iceberg to a meal can help displace more calorie-dense food while still allowing for a full plate of food.

  4. Corn
    When we think of corn, we might think of corn syrup or the particularly villainous high fructose corn syrup. Fresh or frozen corn is quite different nutritionally from the highly refined syrup. Corn provides fiber, B vitamins, lutein and an abundance of antioxidants.
    Consider adding corn to salads, soups and salsas, or enjoy it on the cob. The added fiber can help you feel full and improve your digestive health.

When it comes to vegetables, DeWolf says to keep the big picture in mind. While kale may be more nutritionally dense than iceberg lettuce, either would be a fantastic choice when compared to chips, soda or any processed snack.

“The key consideration is to ensure we are getting those veggies in each day,” she says.

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