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What are 10 green foods?

Eating green foods is a great way to get important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your diet. Green foods are packed with chlorophyll, which gives them their vibrant color. Chlorophyll has been shown to help remove toxins from the body and promote overall health. In this article, we will discuss 10 nutritious green foods and their many benefits.

1. Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is loaded with nutrients. Just one cup of raw spinach provides 56% of your daily vitamin A needs plus your entire daily requirement for vitamin K. It’s also a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium (1).

Spinach contains plant compounds called carotenoids that act as antioxidants to protect your body from free radical damage. Consuming spinach has been linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological decline (2, 3).

You can eat spinach raw in salads, sautéed as a side dish, or blended into smoothies. Spinach shrinks down significantly when cooked, so try to use fresh or frozen spinach whenever possible to maximize nutrients.

2. Kale

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins A, C, and K as well as manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and various antioxidants. Just one cup of chopped kale provides more than 100% of the recommended daily amounts of vitamins A, C, and K (4).

The diverse range of antioxidants in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol, have been shown to fight inflammation and protect against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease (5, 6).

You can enjoy kale raw in salads, stir fries, smoothies, or baked into kale chips for a healthy snack. Steaming or sautéing kale is the best way to reduce bitterness and make it more tender.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is an extremely nutritious cruciferous vegetable. It’s high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. Just one cup of chopped broccoli packs 135% of your daily vitamin C needs (7).

The sulforaphane found in broccoli has potent anti-cancer properties and may also improve blood sugar control. Multiple studies have linked broccoli consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer (8, 9).

Broccoli can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Steaming, microwaving, or roasting broccoli helps enhance its antioxidant content (10).

4. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts look like mini cabbages and are loaded with nutrients. Just a half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides more than 150% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin K. They’re also an excellent source of folate, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C (11).

In addition to their stellar nutritional profile, Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which have cancer fighting properties. Studies suggest that eating more Brussels sprouts may reduce risk factors for cancer (12).

These flavorful veggies can be roasted, sautéed, boiled, or shredded raw and added to salads or slaws. Brussels sprouts have the best flavor and texture when roasted.

5. Asparagus

In addition to its distinct flavor and texture, asparagus is nutritionally well-balanced. Just six spears of asparagus provide over 100% of the recommended amount of vitamin K along with vitamin A, folate, copper, thiamine, and selenium (13).

Asparagus is extremely high in antioxidants, ranking among the top 20 foods for antioxidant content. These antioxidants may help prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease and certain cancers (14).

This spring vegetable can be grilled, roasted, steamed, or added raw to salads and side dishes. The best way to maximize nutrition is to eat it raw or lightly cooked.

6. Artichokes

Artichokes are packed with important nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. One medium artichoke meets over 10% of the daily recommended intake for folate, magnesium, and vitamins C and K (15).

The leaves and hearts of artichokes contain powerful antioxidants like quercetin and gallic acid. Test tube and animal studies have found that artichoke extract may help fight cancer, improve liver health, and protect the brain (16, 17, 18).

Artichokes can be steamed, boiled, roasted, or sautéed. You can also eat them raw by scraping off the tender leaves and dipping them in dressing or a dip.

7. Leeks

Leeks belong to the same family as onions and garlic. Related vegetables, leeks contain many of the same beneficial compounds, including kaempferol and quercetin. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce chronic disease risk and promote health (19).

Leeks provide an impressive amount of vitamin K, supplying over three times the recommended daily amount in just one cup. They are also loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and folate (20).

Leeks can be cooked in soups, braised with meat dishes, roasted, or sliced thinly and added raw to salads.

8. Green Beans

Also called string beans or snap beans, green beans are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. Just one cup of raw green beans contains 31% of your daily vitamin C and over 10% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin K (21).

In addition to their stellar nutrient profile, green beans contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your eyes and promote healthy vision (22).

Green beans can be steamed, sautéed, roasted, or blanched and added to salads or veggie platters. For maximum nutrition, eat them raw or with minimal cooking.

9. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are made up of about 96% water, making them an exceptionally hydrating and refreshing low-calorie food choice. Just one cup of sliced cucumbers contains 19% of your daily vitamin K needs (23).

The cucurbitacins and phytonutrients in cucumbers appear to provide anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, according to preliminary research. Eating cucumbers may help reduce pain and swelling associated with inflammatory conditions like arthritis (24).

Cucumbers are almost always eaten raw and are commonly used in salads, sandwiches, and tacos. They also make a healthy veggie dipper in place of chips.

10. Zucchini

Zucchini is a highly versatile summer squash that’s low in calories yet packed with nutrients. Just one cup of raw zucchini contains over 10% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese (25).

Some research suggests that zucchini and other non-starchy vegetables may have anti-diabetic effects. In an analysis of over 200,000 people, consuming more vegetables like zucchini significantly reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (26).

From stir-fries to baked goods and everything in between, there are endless ways to enjoy zucchini. Grilling, roasting, and sautéing are some of the best cooking methods for maximizing its nutrient content.


Incorporating more green foods into your diet provides a wide range of health benefits. Green foods like spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, leeks, green beans, cucumbers, and zucchini are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant compounds. Eating more green foods may help reduce inflammation, promote healthy aging, protect your eyesight, and reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Try mixing up your veggie choices by adding a few different green foods to your meals each day. Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at each meal for good health.