Although all vegetables are good for us some are more nutrient dense than others. As a general guide the more vibrant the colour the more packed with minerals and vitamins a vegetable is. Dark green ‘curly’ cabbage trumps light green every time.
There’s no order of merit or nutrition to the following list, they are just veggies that nutritionists agree are amongst the best to eat to pack in the goodness. Click the links to read the full nutritional data on each item.
- Beetroot: Beetroot punches well above it’s weight because it’s not only packed full of goodness but you can use the whole plant. The leaves are also nutritious and can be used like spinach. The beets themselves provide vitamins A, C, D, E and K and a multitude of minerals as well as a large amount of Omega 6 fatty acid and Omega 3 fatty acid as well as dietary fibre. They are cholesterol free and add carbohydrate to the diet. They are well worth the space they take up in the garden.
- Spinach: Can be eaten raw in salads, added to a strir-fry or boiled in a small amount of water. It contains vitamins A, several of the B group, C, D, E and K and a large amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s cholesterol and fat free but only provides a small amount of fibre and a minimal amount of carbohydrate. Spinach takes up a fair amount of space for the weight of it you get at harvest but it’s worth growing for it’s large contribution to the B vitamins it provides.
- Kale: Another one rich in a wide variety of essential nutrients. Vitamins A, B6, C, D, E and K and minerals including manganese, calcium zinc and iron. Little dietary fibre and carbohydrate is present but it’s a good one for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. A good addition the veggie patch.
- Tomatoes: Yes I know they are technically a fruit but we cook with them like they’re a veggie so they’re on the list. Packed with vitamins and minerals and so adaptable they are worth growing by the bucketful. They have a moderate amount of dietary fibre and some carbohydrate content.
- Broccoli: The cruciferous cousin of Kale, broccoli contains a large amount of dietary fibre and for its polyphenols. It has vitamins A many of the B group, a huge amount of vitamin C and a wide range of minerals essential for good health. It’s iron content is 10% of the RDA per portion. Definitely worth growing as it is one of the more filling vegetables on the list.
- Onions: Onions are high in vitamin C and have a decent calcium content as well as low levels of other vitamins and minerals. They are massively versatile and can make a bland meal far more appetising. One portion of onions contains 10% of the RDA of vitamin B6. Onions are well worth growing and will happily grow in posts well as directly in the soil.
- Carrots: .Carrots also are loaded with vitamins A, C and K and are a good source of fibre. They are low calorie and versatile. They can be eaten cooked or raw, in salads, soups,stews or as a vegetable in their own right. Carrots contain lutein, a carotenoid that is concentrated in the eye’s retina which does help eye health but there’s not enough in them to make you see in the dark the vitamin A and lutein does aid night vision though. Carrots will also grow happily in tubs as well as in the garden.
- Greens: greens are the sprouting tops of vegetable plants. Swiss chard, Collard greens and mustard greens are all edible and can be sautéed, roasted, mashed or pureed. All of them contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals
- Turnips: The turnip itself is of limited nutritional value but they have a useful amount of carbohydrate in them. The main value of growing turnips is the greens of the plant. Turnip greens have a massive amount of vitamin A and K in them as well as reasonable amounts of many other vitamins and minerals. Like beetroot it’s a wise plant to grow as the whole plant can be used.
- Sweet potatoes: A simple veggie to grow with a massive amount of vitamin A and a worthwhile amount of other vitamins with the exception of vitamin D. A good range of minerals and a moderate of fibre they are a change from regular potatoes. They supply a worthwhile amount of carbohydrate.
- Brussels sprouts. Sprouts are an excellent source of folic acid, a B-vitamin that is important for pregnant women as it protects against neural tube birth defects. They contain calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals and a small amount of protein.
- Bell peppers: Lycopene, folic acid and literally dozens of other vitamins and minerals makes bell peppers an ideal veggie to grow. They do well in pots in conservatories or on sheltered warm patios and those with a greenhouse should have no problems at all. As well as their nutritional value they add colour and interest to bland foods and can be used in many different ways from salads an stir-drys to stews and soups.
- Garlic: Garlic contains a huge amount of vitamins and minerals in a small package. As well as adding flavour to food it has medicinal value that has made it sought after for thousands of years.
- Potatoes: Those who think potatoes are just lumps of starch should think again. Potatoes have as much as 48% of the EDA of vitamin C in a single serving! They contain Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and a wide range of other vitamin and minerals including niacin. They have a high carbohydrates content which makes them filling and an average sized potato contains 18% of the iron an adult needs each day. They are ideal for growing in rough ground as they break up the soil as the tubers spread but will grow well in a dustbin full of soil or even a strong garbage bag if you have nothing else.
Many of the veggies on the list store exceptionally well and can get you through the winter without having to resort to canned produce. having fresh vegetables in a time of crisis will help ensure that you and your family stay healthy and don’t suffer from ‘food fatigue’ the boredom brought on by eating a similar diet day after day for weeks or months on end.
Vegetable peelings are also valuable as chicken feed and they enrich the compost you will use in the future…no part of a vegetable need be wasted.
Deficiency diseases always occur more often during almost every form of crisis and all of the following can be caused by a diet that is limited in the nutrients it provides. The links below highlight some of the more common deficiencies and explain how to avoid them.