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What Are the Best Vegetables to Eat and Why? (The A-List of Veggies)

What Are the Best Vegetables to Eat? 
(The 'A-List')

(this is one of the installments of the 'A-List' for carbohydrates)

Guys don't eat enough vegetables.Vegetable cartoons

Even health-conscious, nutritionally-intelligent athletes and bodybuilders tend to neglect vegetables.

Vegetables aren't "sexy" protein foods that significantly contribute to muscle growth.

Vegetables aren't exactly the foods that you crave at 3 in the morning. You might even resent their taste.

Buying a lot of high-quality vegetables can be pretty expensive, they take time to wash and even more time to prepare.

It's no surprise that vegetables tend to be the food group that gets left out.

I'm guilty of this too.

From ages 18-25 I was an athlete, I was a bodybuilder, I was a real man, I was a college student - I didn't eat no vegetables. I had I known that there's more to nutrition than simply vitamins and minerals in my 2-a-day multivitamin, I would have made the effort to get (or supplement) vegetables that were loaded with antioxidants, probiotics, quality fiber and powerful phytochemicals that protect us from disease.

These days, I eat organic vegetables at at least 2 meals and add this amazing chocolate silk greens formula to all my protein shakes.

It's hard to say how the lack of vegetables truly impacted me, but I do feel like I have a lot of more energy these days. Somedays, I work over 16 hours on this blog. Scotty feels the same way, he thinks the greens offset a lot of the 'extra-circular' activity that we've done.

Either way- if you are in your 20's (or beyond), have a family history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, smoke cigarettes, use drugs or just want to take care of yourself - you should pick up at least one or two of the powerhouse vegetables that will kill the free radicals that cause fatigue, colds and premature aging and considering supplementing the rest.USDA-Organic-Label

Should I Be Buying Organic Vegetables Only?

If you asked me 5 or 10 years ago if organic vegetables were worth it, I would have laughed and told you that "organic" was definitely just another hippie scam. Since I'm not overly stubborn and hardheaded like I was 5 or 10 years ago, I can admit I was wrong.

In fact, I'm currently of the opinion that we should only eat organic vegetables from the United States, Canada and a few select South American countries (or supplement them).

(there are certain vegetables that are an exception to this rule)

Although it's a bit of a misconception that non-organic vegetables are always less nutritious than organic vegetables, that doesn't mean they aren't.

I've watched plenty of documentaries showing "regular" vegetables being grown in recycled infertile soil, sprayed with chemicals that would put you in the hospital, prematurely harvested, not washed once and thrown on the shelf at a low-end grocery store. It's unlikely that these vegetables, grown in soil devoid of nutrients, have much nutritional value. Plants are largely only are healthful as the soil they are grown in. Like this video of a recent French study shows, GMO's (genetically modified organisms) and pesticides cause cancer and large tumors.

We're eating vegetables to prevent cancer, right?

(My brother died of cancer in his small intestine. For half a decade he was a vegetarian. Certainly not clear cause-and-effect - just something I thought of right now)

If you're lucky you can get fertile "regular" vegetables from certain areas/practices like the ones in Mexico City. These fertile regular vegetables are sometimes grown in "fertilizer" (human urine and feces) that would be considered nothing but raw sewage in most first-world countries. Even though I've read the research that suggests our excretions can be a great fertilizer, there's something unsettling to me about vegetables grown in human waste supposedly being the healthy part of the meal.

In my opinion, there is no point to eating most non-organic vegetables.

The quality is, at best- questionable, they take time to prepare and taste average.

The simple fact that they may be unhealthful is reason enough to avoid them.

The alternative of supplementing your greens with this more affordable, more convenient, WAY BETTER TASTING, HIGHER-QUALTY organic Barlean's supplement and buying a couple of the powerhouse organic vegetables listed below seems like a no-brainer.

You've certainly heard me mention that supplement several times -- It's just that good.

further reference (updated) -

Muscle Building / Weight Loss

If you are trying to build muscle, you are welcome to eat an unlimited amount of most vegetables.

Literally, you can eat [almost] an infinite amount of the vegetables below, unless indicated.

If you are trying to lose weight and following our weight loss diet and "A-List of Weight Loss/Maintenance Foods," you can eat green vegetables all day.

Regardless of your goal, just make sure you aren't dipping or covering them in some cheap high sugar/high fat garbage.

There are some incredible-tasting healthful dressing/sauces out there that will transform your least favorite vegetables into your favorite dishes.

Check these out if you know you should eat more vegetables but don't because of the taste-

(these are incredible, I wouldn't lie to you)

Annies-Naturals

The list below represents the "A-List" of vegetables.

Each vegetable was selected for its potential to fight disease (cancer) and other unique reasons.

The amount of information we can give you on these vegetables is endless, so we tried to capture the most significant and applicable facts.

Keep an eye on the 'glycemic load' of these foods. Glycemic Load, rather than Glycemic Index is a better predictor of the impact foods will have on your blood sugar levels. For weight loss, you want to eat foods with the LOWEST glycemic load as possible. If you are trying to gain weight/build muscle, you'll still want to eat foods on the lower side of the glycemic load scale with the exception of post-workout carbohydrates.

As a rule of thumb- the darker [green] the vegetable is - the more nutritious it is and the less effect it has on your insulin levels.

glycemic load scalesource: Mendosa.com (Amazing GI and GL Lists)

If you only bought 1 or 2 of the organic powerhouse green vegetables and threw them in your 2 protein shakes (it's tasteless) and supplemented the rest you'd likely be getting more high-quality vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds than 99% of the people on the face of the earth.

Without further ado, let us present to you-

The Very Best Vegetables to Eat
(The A-List of Vegetables)

* indicates a super vegetable that has a specific purpose

Buy organic, unless noted.

See our article on whether to "Eat Vegetables Raw or Cook Them".

Picture 012Bok Choy (Anti-Cancer)

Glycemic Load: <2 (Super Low) 

Bok choy (Chinese cabbage) is a helpful weight loss food because it is reasonably filling and may be the lowest-calorie vegetable in raw form on planet earth. One cup of shredded bok choy is less than 10 calories. And it packs cancer-preventing compounds called indoles, plus other vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and calcium and potassium.

Broccoli (Anti-Cancer, Organic Not Necessary)

Glycemic Load: <1 (Super Super Low) 

Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. It also comes locked and loaded with isothiocyanates, which are powerful compounds that fight cancer In fact, second to kale, broccoli has the 2nd best overall "carcinogen killer" profile. Steaming, not boiling, broccoli is the best way to cook it. Cooking it actually activates/potentiates some of the enzymes and compounds that make broccoli a cancer killer.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit consumer protection organization, rated broccoli in the top twelve foods that are least contaminated with pesticides. In-other-words, you don't need to buy organic broccoli, just make to wash your broccoli in an apple cider vinegar vegetable wash or something similar. You can always just buy pre-washed ready-to-eat broccoli.

steamer basket for vegetablesFor some reason it took me the longest time to find one of these. It's called a 'steamer basket' and you can get one for $5.

Brussels Sprouts (Anti-Cancer)

Glycemic Load: <2 (Super Low)

Brussels sprouts are little cancer-fighting bullets! In fact, the American Cancer Society recommends chowing down on Brussels Sprouts regularly to help prevent cancers, including prostate cancer. They can also help prevent aging by disarming destructive free radicals. Throw some extra virgin olive oil on them, put them in a pan with foil and throw them in the oven at ~400 degrees. 

Carrots (Anti-Cancer)Bugs

Glycemic Load: 2 (Super Low)

All smokers (or people constantly surrounded by smokers) should be slamming carrots or 100% carrot juice on a daily basis. Eating just ONE carrot a day can potentially cut the rate of lung cancer in half.

You will get the most out of carrots if you cook them and eat them with healthy fats, like avocado. Cooking carrots makes many nutrients in carrots more bio-available (digestible and usable) and the cartenoids and vitamin A in carrots are fat-soluble so they get absorbed better when paired with fat.

Horseradish (Anti-Cancer, Organic Not Necessary)

Glycemic Load: <1 (Super Super Low)

Horseradish stimulates digestion, prevents bacterial infections and promotes circulation. This spicy powerhouse also contains compounds that help build up human resistance to cancer. But this is one of the only vegetables that actually benefits from processing because it contains an enzyme that breaks down some of its good compounds, and processing releases the bad enzyme. So don't buy organic. 

Kale (Strongest Antioxidant Vegetable)

kale-benefitsGlycemic Load: <1 (Super Super Low)

Kale is the VERY BEST vegetable you can possibly eat.

The USDA seems to agree (and gets something right for once).

They ranked kale number One in the best known ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) test. This means- Kale, as compared to all other fruits and vegetables that they look at all fruits and vegetables and rank them based on how well their antioxidants and phytochemicals work together to fight free-radicals. And outranked its competitors by far.

If you could pick ONE VEGETABLE to live on, Kale would be by far the best choice. It is loaded with high quantities of vitamins, phytochemicals and basic and rare antioxidants.

Since it's not the most appetizing vegetable, do this- take one or two big potent organic kale leaves, wash them, rip them up, put them in your protein shake and then blend it. You won't taste the kale, even thought your shake might turn green. Your skin will thank you.

Mushrooms (Toxin Killer)

Glycemic Load: 1 (Super Super Low)

Due to their unique (bizarre) nature, mushrooms have variety of phytochemicals that are not found in other vegetables, not even the potent green veggies.

They have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries and Western medicine is finally catching on to the healing power of mushrooms. The top three healthiest mushrooms are Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi. Mushrooms eliminate toxins, fight cancer and help you lose weight. This famous Japanese study showed that mushrooms actually did what diet pills promise to do but rarely come through on- they transported fat into the mitochondria of cells, which is where fat is burned for energy.

shitakeShitake mushrooms contain a compound called 'lentinan' which is an injectable drug used to treat cancer in Japan 

Onions (Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Viral Properties)

Glycemic Load: 1 (Super Super Low)

OnionOnions posses an anti-allergic chemical, quercetin, that acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Onions can also help reduce asthma and allergies by relaxing inflammation in airways. And As a bonus onions are antibiotic and antiviral as well.

Parsnips

Glycemic Load: Boiled (4), Prepared other ways (4-12) (Low)

Use parsnips in place of white potatoes. Bodybuilders/fitness girls looking to lose fat mash them up and they will have a similar consistency as mashed potatoes with more nutrients and flavor.

Pumpkin

organic canned pumpkinGlycemic Load: ~6-10 (Low) 

Pumpkin is the potassium powerhouse. They have even more than bananas. You don't have to buy and gut a whole pumpkin to consume it, who has time for that?

Get organic, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just straight pumpkin) and throw it in a vanilla protein shake with cinnamon and Stevia, it tastes great!

Spinach

(2nd Best Antioxidant, Must Buy Organic) 

Glycemic Load: <1 (Super Super Low)

These little leafy greens are LOADED with nutrient and antioxidant power.

They were ranked second (to kale) in the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) test for its strong combination of antioxidants and phytochemicals working together to fight free-radicals. I put spinach in my protein shake nearly everyday, which you may think sounds gross, but it is actually tasteless! It's a great way to work it into your diet on a regular basis.

Sweet Potatoes (Not a Weight Loss Food)
Sweet Potato

Glycemic Load: ~20-30 (Moderate/Moderate-High)

Only eat these if you are trying to gain weight, build muscle or are involved in endurance sports.

Sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes, contrary to popular belief.

However, another popular belief when comparing sweet potatoes to potatoes is that sweet potatoes have a lower GL. Well that's not actually true. They run between 20 (high-moderate) and 30 (higher) on the GL. They tend to raise blood sugar at the same rapid rate as regular potatoes. But they are more healthful and the skin is one of the healthiest parts of a sweet potato and contains the most fiber. You can eat the whole thing if you wash it. They are great for post workout meals paired with protein. Do it up with some sugar-free jelly or sugar-free honey.

You might be curious what the difference between sweet potatoes and yams is. Sweet potatoes have a moist orange center, yams have a dry yellow colored center. If you are living in the United States, unless you are specifically buying 'yams' from an international grocery - you are eating sweet potatoes. Apparently, regular grocery stores are allowed to label loose yellow sweet potatoes as 'yams' even thought they aren't actually yams. Yams are VERY UNCOMMON in the western world. 

swiss-chard-BIGChris Posing with a Swiss chard leaf in our bathroom. Typical.

* Swiss Chard

Glycemic Load: 1-2 (Super Low)

Swiss chard is a superstar vegetable!

It is PACKED with vitamins and minerals. It cooks super fast. So be careful not to overcook it because you can destroy some of the nutrients. Swiss Chard protects your eyes and helps prevent vision problems, among a host of other benefits.

Swiss chard is another potent green vegetable that will be TASTELESS if you crunch it up and throw in the blender with your protein shakes. Make sure you throw in the red stalk too, that's loading with antioxidants that kill free radicals. 

Watercress

Glycemic Load: 1 (Super Super Low)

A lot of people mistake watercress as simply "decor" that is used in presentation of a main course at restaurants. It's actually quite healthful though.

Watercress contains quadruple the amount of calcium than milk and six times the magnesium. It also contains the same amount of vitamin C as oranges and exceeds spinach in iron count. It also helps fight cancer. So add this little leafy green to all of your salads!

Final Thoughts

Veggies are good.

Men don't eat enough of them because they aren't 'sexy' and take time to wash and prepare.

I suggest buying one or two of the powerhouse vegetables and rotating them on a weekly basis. Dump the leafy ones in your protein shakes- they will be TASTELESS. Only kale will present any sort of 'green' aftertaste.

Use the greens formula to supplement the rest. I'm not super pushy with my recommendations but you are going to see this one- OVER and OVER. It's incredible. I'm cereal.

Your best options are (in this order)-

  • Organic Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Organic Spinach / Swiss Chard
  • Organic Carrots
  • Various Organic Mushrooms

What About the Other Vegetables?

There isn't going to a vegetable that is "bad" for you.

However, there are going to be vegetables that aren't quite as attractive (nutritious) as the fabulous members of the exclusive 'A-List'.

These vegetables tend to have high water content, less nutrients or less 'special' anti-cancer nutrients. You are free to eat these though, they're still good for you. 

Healthy Vegetables that Didn't Make the 'A-List' (...
Egg Protein - The Best Source of Protein Ever (Nex...

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Comments (33)

  1. Repsej

Good stuff, I definitely am inspired by the list of veggies.
Currently I primarily get my vitamins from fruits since I'm trying to eat calorie dense foods while bulking, but I have found an easy way to add veggies to such a diet.
Post workout I...

Good stuff, I definitely am inspired by the list of veggies.
Currently I primarily get my vitamins from fruits since I'm trying to eat calorie dense foods while bulking, but I have found an easy way to add veggies to such a diet.
Post workout I make a smoothie consisting of oranges, orange juice (not from concentrate), spinach and broccoli. It's an easy way to get them down and you can't even taste them. I would imagine you could add most of the veggies mentioned in this article to the smoothie as well.
Nice, fast and easy for those of us who don't like to eat veggies and have a hard time fitting them into our diet since we feel full already.
I buy my spinach and broccoli frozen for a nice cold smoothie. Try it out!

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  1. swisschardplayer

Chris , appreciate it very much.
Spot on!
Unfurtunately right click is diasabled , it´s so good I wanted to save it

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  1. Good Looking Loser    swisschardplayer

Thank you Swiss Chard!

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  1. marks

Thanks man for the work.
It is terrifying how devoid of nutriets our food is.
I read a study that measured the average nutritional value of foods , in 1980 they 80% of their absolute nutritional value in 2009 it was just 20% percent. Eating an...

Thanks man for the work.
It is terrifying how devoid of nutriets our food is.
I read a study that measured the average nutritional value of foods , in 1980 they 80% of their absolute nutritional value in 2009 it was just 20% percent. Eating an unorganic carrot today is pretty much like eating nothing at all , it´s empty!
I would be glad to hear what documentaries you watched (as you stated in the article) regarding this issue.

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  1. Good Looking Loser    marks

Hey Mark-- I wouldnt' doubt that study. The stuff on the shelves today isn't even "food" by 1980s standards!

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  1. Jon

Thanks for the research man. Veggies aren't the most appetizing for sure but I make sure to follow a rainbow diet (i.e. eat as may different colored fruits & veggies as possible). The benefits are immense & I feel great!

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  1. Good Looking Loser    Jon

Thanks for writing in Jon!

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  1. baldur

I would definately add the "whities" - garlic, asparagus and cauliflower.

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  1. baldur    baldur

I cannot edit the upper post. Is there is possible to add usage date? For exampe spinach have to be eaten right away, maybe day later, while Carrots and Broccolli have longer usage period. What do you think about frozen foods?

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  1. Good Looking Loser    baldur

Yeah we gotta talk frozen foods, unfortunately the answer is 'depends'... if it isn't organic-- it'll be even worse if frozen though.

The ones you listed made the almost 'a-list' ... not a knock on them by any means

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  1. John

Hey chris ive had a bad back injury for a year now. So I am unable to lift and unable to live a normal life. Assuming I get out of this, I had goals to start personal training due to my past 3 years of obsessive bodybuilding. Although everything...

Hey chris ive had a bad back injury for a year now. So I am unable to lift and unable to live a normal life. Assuming I get out of this, I had goals to start personal training due to my past 3 years of obsessive bodybuilding. Although everything I know, came from a bodybuilders perspective.

I wanted to study up on it more in my downtime before I take college courses on the matter. Do you know of any must read books on the matter? My goal is to get to where you were, the top 1% in the weightlosss division of my city.

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  1. Good Looking Loser    John

Hey John-- sorry for the late response,, more specifically though-- what exactly are you looking for?... as specific as you can be...

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  1. Boy Toy

Great article. Vegetables are definitely underrated.
Btw you look great with that hot young swiss chard! ;-)

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  1. Good Looking Loser    Boy Toy

young, ripe just the way we like them

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  1. Horny

wow, swiss chard! I've never seen a vegetable that big

I enjoy broccoli, spinach, garlic, cauliflower and carrots on a daily basis. Kale is super rare here but I found one store so far that sells it and I'm planning to add it to my diet. I'd...

wow, swiss chard! I've never seen a vegetable that big

I enjoy broccoli, spinach, garlic, cauliflower and carrots on a daily basis. Kale is super rare here but I found one store so far that sells it and I'm planning to add it to my diet. I'd add others like the japanese mushrooms but they're expensive for daily use, around 30$ / kilo, which is about 2 lbs.

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  1. Good Looking Loser    Horny

its a good one and you always have the option of throwing into a shake if the taste is just too strong.. its potent, if you put too much kale in a shake, youll actually taste it... unlike spinach where its nearly always tasteless

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  1. Supercell

AHAHAHA u posing with the big leaf aha, good article! my parents have always raised me on eating vegies everyday but missing out on the A list got to implement some of these into my salad!

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  1. Good Looking Loser    Supercell

thats good nutrition, i literally spent a decade not eating vegetables...

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[...] These vegetables are solid but fell short of making our exclusive Powerhouse Vegetables A-List. [...]

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