5 Vegetables To Keep In Your Kitchen
Here are five nutrient-packed vegetables I recommend keeping your kitchen stocked with – especially when they come into season (or better yet, try growing your own!):
- Mushrooms. Prized for their tonic effects, mushrooms can help address a host of illnesses. Maitake mushrooms (known as “hen of the woods” for their resemblance to the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen) are particularly valued in Asian cooking, as they have anti-cancer, anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties, and may also reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. Shiitake, enokidake and oyster mushrooms also have immune-boosting qualities and are easily included in many main courses.
- Beets. The deep red color of these root vegetables comes from anthocyanins, phytonutrients that protect against damage from carcinogens and may help prevent heart disease. Beets are versatile, inexpensive, and delicious hot or cold.
- Squash. With a wide variety of types, flavors, shapes, and sizes, squash is readily adaptable to any occasion – it can even be used in pie! It provides beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber, nutrients that are necessary for good overall health from head to toe.
- Tomatoes. This red fruit (often considered a fruit) contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and possibly some types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. Use tomatoes in everything from salads to sauces, but know that lycopene is most easily absorbed when the tomatoes are cooked and eaten with a little fat, such as extra virgin olive oil (think sauces and stews).
- Broccoli. This vegetable-platter classic and other cruciferous vegetables offer cancer-protective benefits. Broccoli is also a good source of vitamin K and calcium – both of which help keep bones strong. The components of the cruciferous family have also been shown to promote healthy hormone balance by enhancing proper hormone metabolism. It is tasty both raw and cooked, and can be a standout in soups, casseroles, and salads. My favorite way to prepare broccoli is tossed with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and roasted in the oven.
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