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As I see it, any food sourced from a nonpoisonous plant is SUPER as long as you don't have an intolerance or an allergy to a specific plant. Listed alphabetically are some fruits and vegetables that are truly noteworthy.

  1. Apples: Though one a day might not keep every doctor at bay, you will find an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and health-protective antioxidants in any variety of apples. People who regularly consume apples tend to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma, and Alzheimer's disease.
  2. Artichokes: The peak season for California-grown globe artichokes is April, but you can stock canned or frozen artichoke hearts for year-round convenience. The fiber in artichoke hearts is especially gut healthy, while your whole body will benefit from minerals like potassium and magnesium.
  3. Bananas are easy to eat and transport. The green-tipped bananas have a higher content of digestive-resistant starches. But when fully ripe, these are a sweet treat and a great source of soluble fiber and potassium.
  4. Berries: If you want to keep your arteries and digestive tract healthy, include berries in your diet. Though all berry varieties are relatively similar in terms of their vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content, blueberries are known to have the highest antioxidant activity. I encourage you to eat in-season fruit, so when it is not berry season, stock your freezer with a variety to use in low-sugar desserts, smoothies, and yogurt.
  5. Beans: Organic canned beans are one of my pantry staples. Beans are exceptionally high in fiber, and a serving will go a long way in achieving the recommended 30 grams daily intake. Beans are also high in phytates, cancer preventative despite the negative press. In addition, studies tell us that dietary phytate prevents kidney stone formation and protects against diabetes, dental cavities, and heart disease.
  6. Broccoli: Diet is the best tool to protect yourself against cancer, and with that in mind, you will want to make this cruciferous vegetable part of your food habits. One-half cup of broccoli a day provides the necessary phytochemicals, sulforaphane, and indole to ward off various cancers.
  7. Carrots: The orange color provides a substantial dose of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Carrots are available in various colors, each with unique antioxidants, so I encourage you to pick up a package of heirloom rainbow carrots. All carrots are excellent sources of gut and heart health-promoting soluble fiber.
  8. Celery: This crunchy green vegetable is very low in calories and may help lower blood pressure due to its nitrate content. It is also very high in vitamin K, an essential nutrient for bone health. Some mornings I eat it with peanut butter for breakfast.
  9. Edamame: Whole soy foods, including tempeh, tofu, and soybeans, contain phytoestrogens. According to a 2020 review of clinical studies, these nutrients may protect against breast, endometrial, and colorectal cancer. The isoflavones in soy may reduce bone loss, minimize menopause symptoms, and promote stable blood sugar levels. Keep shelled frozen edamame in stock for use in salads, casseroles, and soups.
  10. Mushrooms: These fungi contain many nutrients like selenium, vitamin D2, copper, and potassium that help keep your body and mind healthy. Asian mushrooms (e.g., shitake and oyster) contain anti-viral compounds, and an observational study found a link between eating mushrooms and a good mood.
  11. Onions and garlic: The allium family contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. After they are chopped and allowed to react with oxygen, these flavorful vegetables are rich in allicin, an antioxidant that promotes heart health.
  12. Tomatoes: Whether you think of them as vegetables or fruits, include these lycopene-rich foods in your diet. Lycopene is an antioxidant shown to ward off cancer, and canned tomatoes have four times more lycopene than fresh. I enjoy cooked tomatoes in sauces, soups, and casseroles, and I keep cherry tomatoes on my counter for a convenient vitamin C-rich snack.

Nancy Teeter is a Registered Dietitian and a SaddleBrooke resident. Though she is mostly retired, she is passionate about sharing her nutrition knowledge with others. This article should not replace advice from your medical provider. For dietary support, visit eatright.org.


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