1. BeetsBeets (aka beetroot) are a round root vegetable known for their bright pink color. You may have a strong opinion about beets, but whether you’re a beet lover or hater, it’s not up for debate that they are nutrient-dense. Beets are low in calories, but high in vitamins and minerals, which is why they can be classified as nutrient-dense. In one cup of raw beets, you get 37 percent of the daily value for folate (daily values apply to those older than four and are based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet). Folate is a B-vitamin that is needed to create DNA and other genetic materials you need to function. The daily requirement for humans 14 years and up is 400 mcg/day. Raw beets also contain good amounts of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and a couple grams of protein per cup! Beets also contain dietary nitrites, which have been shown to improve cardiovascular health.
How to enjoy: Beets can be consumed in a variety of ways—beet juice, steamed beets, roasted, pickled, and shredded. They have a sweet flavor and come in red and golden varieties.
2. Brussels SproutsBrussels sprouts are a nutrient powerhouse. To start, brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin C! (It’s not just in citrus fruits.) In just one cup of raw brussels sprouts, there are 74.8 mg of vitamin C or 125 percent of the daily requirement. Vitamin C is an antioxidant so it helps protect your cells from damage. In addition to vitamin C, brussels sprouts also contain high levels of vitamin K—156 mcg or 195 percent of your daily intake in one cup to be exact. Vitamin K is beneficial for bone and kidney health.
How to enjoy: Brussels sprouts can be enjoyed raw by shredding them in a salad. You can also roast or sauté them. Try roasting them with maple syrup—they’re delicious!
3. CauliflowerCauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family and that comes with important health benefits. Cauliflower is low in calories and high in fiber. Fiber-rich foods like cauliflower work to improve gut health and also have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Not only does cauliflower provide fiber, but it also contains substantial amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, and is a good source of vitamin B6 and folate.
How to enjoy: Because cauliflower is so versatile, it’s easy to incorporate into your diet. It’s a great low-carbohydrate substitution for grains like rice. You can slice it and pan fry it like a steak or steam it and mash it to mimic potatoes. Try cauliflower rice, cauliflower hummus, and even cauliflower pizza crust. You can do almost anything with cauliflower!
4. EndiveEndive often goes unnoticed. Many people might not even know what it is. It’s a green leafy vegetable shaped like a small rocket ship. It may not look like it can provide a lot of nutrients, but endive contains a substantial number of vitamins and minerals. This small and humble leafy green should be at the top of your grocery list. In one small head of endive, you receive:
- 222 percent of your daily intake for vitamin A, which is good for maintaining the
- 1,481 percent of your daily intake for vitamin K
- 182 percent of your daily intake for folate
- 108 percent of your daily intake for manganese, which is essential for healthy your skin, bones, and cartilage
How to enjoy: If you’ve never had endive before, keep in mind that it’s a great vessel for other foods. You can use it as a “boat” for lettuce cups or shred it up for a salad. Be forewarned: it’s bitter in flavor.
5. Sweet PotatoesWho doesn’t love potatoes? Especially sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes are much more nutrient-dense than the simple russet potato. They contain more fiber and nutrients overall. Sweet potatoes, especially orange sweet potatoes, are loaded with vitamin A. In one small baked sweet potato, you get 769 percent of your daily intake of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also contain some protein and fiber! It’s a well-rounded spud—literally.
How to enjoy: Sweet potatoes are great baked as a whole, cut up and roasted, mashed, or spiralized into noodles. Their sweet flavor works well in both savory and sweet preparations, so have fun with them!
6. Swiss ChardThis large leafy green is as fancy as it sounds. Swiss chard contains a little bit of everything in terms of its nutrient profile. But it stands out with high amounts of vitamins A and K. Swiss chard is also rich in antioxidants, which are apparent by the dark green color of the leaves. Although not in significant amounts, Swiss chard contains fiber, calcium, and magnesium (helps with energy production), too. With its high levels of vitamin K and the fact that swiss chard has calcium as well, it’s great for bone health.
How to enjoy: Swiss chard is delicate, but it holds well in soups or stews. It’s also great added to scrambled eggs or shredded raw for salads. Because the leaves are so big, it can even be used as a wrap in place of bread!
When picking your produce to consume this fall, go for a variety of vibrant colors. Different colors provide different nutrients. To discover what produce is in season during the fall, explore this complete list here.
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*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.