I’ll be honest. Whenever I hear someone repeat the old saw, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” I’m not sure whether to smile or shake my head.
On one hand, I’m a huge believer in always looking for the positive in life. On the other, the saying paints lemons in a negative light. And that couldn’t be further from the truth!
So I’m going to set the record straight —not only about lemons, but also lemongrass.
Benefits of Lemons
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about lemons that just makes me feel good. Maybe it’s their eye-catching color, their clean scent, or their refreshing citrus flavor. Or maybe I’m drawn to them because I instinctively know that the vibes lemons give off are just what I need to stay healthy.
One thing is for sure—I love that lemons are loaded with immune-boosting, free-radical-destroying vitamin C. This is a vitamin that, in my opinion, doesn’t get the full credit it deserves. Sure, it will help take the edge off a cold or the flu—that’s why a little tea with some raw honey and lemon is a go-to remedy for seasonal illness. But vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps neutralize inflammation-causing free radicals, so it ultimately supports heart health.
Lemons get even more health benefits from the flavonoids they contain. Flavonoids are a type of natural (and potent) antioxidant unique to plant foods. They’re also effective at stopping free radical activity, which means they are anti-inflammatory.
Adding more lemons to your diet is easy. Lemonade is a traditional favorite, but I’d steer clear since most recipes contain too much sugar. You’ll be better off just squeezing some fresh lemon juice into a glass of water. If you must have some sweetness, try diluting lemonade with filtered water so it’s only half-strength, then add more fresh lemon juice to your glass; you can also make your own lemonade and sweeten it with a very minimal amount of maple syrup.
Great for enhancing the flavor of virtually any dish, lemons are particularly good on fish and poultry. Lemon juice also mixes wonderfully with olive oil – drizzled over some veggies, the combo is amazing! I love it so much, I included lemon in my line of flavored olive oils.
My personal favorite lemon-olive oil-veggie combo is asparagus. Try it for yourself! Watch this demonstration video, and you’ll see how incredibly quick and easy healthy eating can be:
Finally, there’s zero waste with lemons. Instead of throwing the rinds in the trash, you can put them down the garbage disposal. It’s not exactly a quiet undertaking, but the oils that are released as the rinds get ground up help clean the disposal and get rid of unpleasant odors.
Lemongrass Benefits and Uses
Now let’s look at lemongrass. Despite having a similar scent and flavor, lemons and lemongrass are not actually related at all. Lemons are a tree fruit, while lemongrass is actually a tropical herb from Asia.
You’ll usually come across lemongrass as either an ingredient for cooking or as an essential oil. You can cook with lemongrass that’s fresh, ground, or powdered, and it’s used in many fish, beef, poultry, and curry recipes.
Health-wise, lemongrass has benefits similar to lemons. It’s been shown to help fight inflammation (one study identified lemongrass as a top six essential oil with anti-inflammatory properties), and lemongrass oil—like lemon oil—has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help fight infections. Lemongrass also supports healthy digestion, which has the dual benefit of supporting nutrient absorption and the removal of toxins.
A few other uses for lemongrass include:
Reduce stress. If you are stressed or can’t sleep, put a few drops of lemongrass essential oil in a diffuser and let its refreshing scent calm you. If you don’t have a diffuser or the essential oil, crush enough fresh lemongrass leaves that you can pick up their scent. Place them in your room for a relaxing evening.
Make tea. I love lemongrass tea; the taste is refreshing and invigorating. You can make tea by steeping fresh lemongrass in boiling water, or purchase dried tea. If you buy tea, just be sure the brand you choose is 100 percent organic so you’re not getting any health-damaging pesticides and GMOs.
Repel insects. Lemongrass makes a great insect repellent. (One species of lemongrass, citronella grass, is a common ingredient in candles and lotions that ward off mosquitoes.) Don’t apply lemongrass oil directly to your skin undiluted, though, because it can cause skin irritation. To be on the safe side, mix lemongrass oil with a carrier oil like jojoba oil or almond oil. Or, you could even use a little olive oil.
Repel fleas, ticks, and lice. Like other insects, fleas, ticks and lice hate the scent of lemongrass. You can take advantage of this (and make your dog very happy) by spraying diluted lemongrass oil over his coat and bedding. Don’t try this with your cat, though, because it can be highly toxic to felines.
Make massage oil. You can easily make massage oil by mixing three essential oils—lemongrass, sandalwood, and geranium—with almond oil.
There are so many other ways to use lemons and lemongrass for your health and happiness— I’ve really only scratched the surface here. But one thing should be obvious: there’s a lot more good about lemons (and lemongrass) than bad. So the next time you hear someone say “When life gives you lemons…” just smile, look on the bright side, and think how much healthier you’ll be.
The programmed part of us, our ego-wounded self, often believes that self-judgment and judgment of others motivate change. But if you actually examine the results of judgment, you will see that the opposite is true. When you judge yourself, you'll likely discover that it actually makes you feel anxious, depressed, guilty, or shamed. The truth is, you don't perform nearly as well as when you feel happy and peaceful and have a deep sense of self-worth.
So, what happens between you and a partner, child, friend, or co-worker when you judge yourself or judge them?
When we judge others, we often then project onto them that they are judging us, and when we judge ourselves, we feel insecure around others. Truly, nothing good ever comes from self-judgment or judgment of others. It makes us feel bad and creates strained relationships.
Even judgmental thoughts have a negative effect because they affect your frequency. It’s your frequency (which I like to think of as the place from which you react to yourself and others) that determines whether or not you can lovingly connect with others. When you are judgmental toward yourself or others, your frequency is low. You are operating from the ego with a closed heart - you can’t connect with yourself or others when your heart is closed.
How do you stop letting your ego run the show?
If you want loving and connected relationships, then you need to start by noticing your thoughts. You can’t stop judging unless you are aware that you're doing it. It’s not uncommon for judgmental thoughts of yourself and others to be automatic—not even conscious.
Years ago, I realized that much of my anxiety was coming from self-judgments and judgments of others. I started to practice noticing this, without judging myself. It took a while, but eventually I stopped judging myself and others, and this has been life-changing.
As you become conscious of your judgments, you then have the choice to shift your thinking to acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. Whenever you are accepting of yourself and others, and you have compassion for yourself and others, and you forgive yourself and others for making mistakes and being human, your frequency is high and your heart is open. In these times, you'll find it easy to lovingly connect with yourself and with others.
Know that the actions that result from being judgmental and the actions that result from being accepting, compassionate, and forgiving are completely different. Actions come from thoughts, so judgmental thoughts lead to controlling and rejecting behavior, while acceptance, compassion and forgiveness lead to loving behavior.
It's not just about connecting with others. It's about truly loving and accepting yourself.
The other enormous benefit of raising your frequency by moving out of judgment and into acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness is that you will naturally start to experience the love and guidance that is always with you. We are always being lovingly guided toward our highest good and the manifestation of our dreams by our spiritual guidance—but our guidance can’t reach us when our heart is closed, and judgment always closes the heart. Life changes dramatically when you know that you are never alone and that you are always being guided toward peace, joy, and the manifestation of your dreams.
This one major change in your thinking has a huge impact on your life and on all your relationships. I encourage you to consider noticing what judgment creates in your life and your relationships and to begin consciously shifting to acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness.
When I moved outside of DC a couple of years ago, I noticed the scent of cannabis very much “in the air”! Many believe cannabis is a powerful medicinal plant with vast potential for improving health and happiness (I happen to be one of them). Yet there are many who are, shall I say, trapped in the cannabis closet—or are afraid of trying it at all. It starts with consistent and simple education about cannabis and how to (safely and effectively) use it.
Keep reading for the questions people always ask me about incorporating cannabis into their wellness routines.
1. Do I need to “get high” to experience the benefits of cannabis?
The short answer is: no!
The long answer is a lot more scientific.
Basically, there are two species of the same Cannabis plant - one is marijuana, with THC, and the other is hemp, without. The reason cannabis affects the human body and creates “the high” is because our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (stay with me here), made up of receptors in the brain and nervous system that control physiological processes including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory. The endocannabinoid system is often thought of as a bridge between the body and mind.
THC is the only cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects.
The cannabis plant has 113 known cannabinoids (chemical compounds that trigger neurotransmitter releases in the brain). The one people usually talk about is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and it’s the only cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects. That means there are over one hundred active cannabinoids in cannabis that work with our bodies but don’t impact our minds at all.
THC is the only cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects.
One of these, cannabidiol (CBD), has proven to be extremely effective in treating inflammation, anxiety, pain, epilepsy, and many other conditions. CBD can even be used after THC to “calm down” the high.
If you’re nervous about cannabis’ psychoactivity, I recommend starting with a whole-plant extract like CW Hemp. It comes from the hemp plant and is legal nationwide.
One of the biggest barriers to promoting cannabis as wellness is the smoking aspect of the cannabis experience. Smoking, as you’ve gathered, will never be perceived as healthy. The good news is that there are so many new cannabis wellness products on the market, you don’t need to light up in order to reap the benefits.
Products like vapes, tinctures, topicals, and healthy edibles avoid the smoke completely.
Vaporizers are great tools because they allow you to inhale cannabis by toasting the plant without burning it. Brands like Hmbldt are changing the vape game with their pre-measured dose pens, and PAX‘s vape products are not only clean, but the oils are sourced responsibly and with sustainability in mind.
For tinctures, I reach for products from Medicine Box and Emerald Alchemy. I also love the Paleo edibles by Moonman’s Mistress and the topicals by Apothecanna and Foria.
The reality is, we don’t have enough scientific research and clinical trial data to make cannabis a household medicine. Cannabis has a complicated, often dark history, so it comes with a major stigma. In fact, it’s still classified by the US government as a Schedule 1 Drug with “no perceived medicinal benefits”—while at the same time, the government owns a patent that claims cannabis is a neuroprotectant and antioxidant. Like I said, it’s complicated.
We don’t have enough scientific research and clinical trial data to make cannabis a household medicine.
Studies have shown that cannabis can help quell inflammation, reduce tumor growth, ease chronic pain, treat insomnia, and dial back stress. Anecdotally, people regularly use it to relieve conditions like headaches, depression, PMS- and menopause-related discomfort, and so much more. That’s why it’s up to us as consumers, citizens, and conscious humans to listen to our bodies and be open to the healing potential of plant medicine. We don’t have enough scientific research and clinical trial data to make cannabis a household medicine. PIN IT
People often tell me that they won’t try cannabis until they’re sick. They acknowledge that the plant has medicinal benefits, but don’t see the use of partaking while healthy. In response, I say that cannabis has taught me that health isn’t just a physical state, but also a state of mind. We can (and, in my opinion, should) use cannabis when we’re sick and healthy because we can always feel better.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a clinical condition, cannabis can provide balance when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, overworked, fatigued, or lonely. In this way, cannabis is a supplement—more vitamin than drug.
I used to use cannabis when I was a teenager, but it’s so different now. Where should I start if I want to try it again?
The cannabis industry has definitely come a long way since the age of apple bongs and psychedelic pipes—it’s huge that we can even call it an industry. The imbibing options are myriad, but that doesn’t mean they have to be overwhelming.
The key is to use cannabis mindfully, with intention and careful consideration.
Start by asking yourself why you want to use cannabis. If you don’t have any major medical issues but want to relieve stress or anxiety, I’d say start with a vaporizer or tincture. If you choose to try vaping the plant, use a strain like Blue Dream, a hybrid that promotes euphoria and bliss. Take one deep breath, then wait five minutes and see how you feel before taking another breath. Notice the little changes in your mind and body and relax completely before trying more. The key is to use cannabis mindfully, with intention and careful consideration. The key is to use cannabis mindfully, with intention and careful consideration.
If you’re nervous about trying CBD for the first time, let one skeptical Well+Good writer be your guinea pig: Here’s what happened when she tried cannabis drink powders to combat anxiety, pain, and fatigue. (Bonus: It could totally spice up your love life.)
~ Thanks to Jessica Assaf. After 10 years in the nascent natural beauty industry, Jessica went to Harvard Business School thinking she’d come out with a next-level beauty idea—instead she graduated with a plan for revolutionizing the cannabis product industry, with women at the helm. Now she’s one of thousands of other entrepreneurs who are cultivating the plant as a wellness ingredient, and founder of Cannabis Feminist, a go-to for (ridiculously fascinating) intel on the movement.
Gut health is everything. Underlying microbiome and gastrointestinal problems such as leaky gut syndrome, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and candida overgrowth can be linked to just about every modern health problem. From weight gain and fatigue to anxiety and depression to autoimmune conditions and cancer, there are many consequences of having an unhealthy gut.
You may be thinking, 'I go to the bathroom just fine, gut problems aren't an issue for me.' But the truth is that you don't need to have gut symptoms to have underlying gut problems. Many are asymptomatic as far as digestive symptoms go but manifest as downstream symptoms somewhere else in the body. In fact, around 22 percent of people with gut problems can have significant damage to their small intestines but not suffer any gastrointestinal symptoms at all.
Many of you health-savvy mindbodygreen readers know this, and you're already doing tons of healthy stuff—like drinking kombucha, popping probiotics, and sipping on bone broth—to optimize your gut health. But what if you're not noticing any improvements or you're improving much more slowly than you thought? How long does all the gut-healing stuff take, anyway? Well, I am glad you asked!
Healing your gut means healing your whole body.
To answer this important question, we have to go down to a cellular level. First of all, the surface area of your gut is around 300 square meters, which is the size of a studio apartment! These super important gut-lining cells, called the enterocytes, are constantly regenerating and in a normal healthy gut, you have an entirely new gut lining every two to three weeks. The gut-healing time of people who don't have autoimmune conditions, food sensitivities, or other inflammatory health issues varies, but studies suggest that it's somewhere between two and 12 weeks.
Another study from Harvard, published in the medical journal Nature, found significant changes in the makeup of the gut bacteria occurring just three days after a dietary change! This demonstrates the amazing power of the foods we eat, but in reality, most people interested in healing their gut have other health issues that make healing more complex and a lot slower. If you have one or more of these health issues, gut healing will definitely be a journey: chronic inflammation, Lyme disease, chronic viral infections, blood sugar issues, adrenal fatigue, SIBO, an autoimmune condition, histamine intolerance, candida overgrowth, or leaky gut syndrome. And to understand the issues above—and how they relate to your gut-healing journey—we have to understand something I call the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum.
Understanding the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum.
For starters, to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, the immune system has to destroy a significant amount of tissue (such as the brain, gut, or thyroid). For example, there has to be a 90 percent destruction of the adrenal glands to be diagnosed with Addison’s disease (a disorder in which the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones). There also has to be severe destruction of the neurological and digestive systems to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and celiac disease (CD), respectively. But of course, these diseases do not happen overnight! This is merely the end stage of the larger autoimmune spectrum, and there are actually three main stages on the autoimmune spectrum disorder:
Silent autoimmunity: When there are positive antibody labs but no noticeable symptoms.
Autoimmune reactivity: When there are positive antibody labs and symptoms.
Autoimmune disease: When there’s enough body destruction to be diagnosed with a specific condition.
I find that there are countless people in Stage 2 of the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum: not sick enough to be labeled with an autoimmune disease but still damaged by the effects of autoimmune reactivity.
Taking food allergies and sensitivities into account.
Researchers are now finding what we've been saying for decades in functional medicine: food reactivities like gluten sensitivity are just one end of a larger inflammation spectrum, with autoimmune diseases like celiac disease (CD) on the opposite side. As I've said, there needs to be significant destruction of your intestinal microvilli to be officially labeled as having celiac disease (CD). Moreover, only about 10 percent of people with CD have obvious GI symptoms; instead, they experience other seemingly unrelated symptoms like anxiety, depression, or skin problems. This leads to only 5 percent of celiacs ever being diagnosed! This means that there are around 3 million Americans with celiac disease who have no idea that they have it and gluten sensitivity in another 15-20% of us. For these people, it can take up to six months just to bring down the autoimmune-inflammation antibodies of eating a gluten-containing food just one time! This is not even taking into consideration any other food sensitivity or health problem slowing down the gut-healing process.
Most of my patients are dealing with one or more of these gut health, inflammation, autoimmune issues. If you have more complicated gut health issues, I encourage you to get a proper functional medicine work-up and appropriate labs to get an idea of what you're up against and to make sure you're addressing everything you need to on your unique gut-healing journey.
The Environmental Working Group has been investigating our sunscreens since 2007, looking into thousands of products on the market to see where the bright spots are and where we're getting burned.
Considering the fact that the rate of melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970s, we clearly need to step up our summer skin-care arsenals. But over the past 10 years, the research and advocacy group has found that nearly three-quarters of sunscreens on the market don't live up to their claims, either underdelivering on sun protection or overdoing it in the chemical department. Here's what the latest research says about the healthiest, most effective types of sun protection to throw in your beach bag.
What to avoid:
While you may assume that a higher SPF means a higher level of protection from UVA (the ones that cause the skin to age over time) and UVB (the ones that cause sunburn) rays this isn't always the case. Various factors, such as brightness of light, can dramatically alter the sun protection factor. One study found that a slight change in light turned a product marketed as 100 SPF into a 37 SPF. You're better off choosing a lower SPF (one that falls under 70) and reapplying often than slopping on an 100 in the hopes that it will last all day. Because, let's be honest, you shouldn't be out in the sun all day anyways if you can help it. "Sunscreen alone may not reduce risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, because it prompts users to spend more time out in the sun, where they get more total UV and more sunburns," explains EWG senior research analyst Sonya Lunder.
A study by U.S. government scientists suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the present of sunlight. And yet it's present in 14 percent of the beach and sport sunscreens tested this year. While more research still needs to be done, it's safe to say we probably don't want this in a product that we exclusively wear outside. The EWG recommends avoiding skin products containing various forms of vitamin A including retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and retinoic acid.
This one's a biggie, both for health reasons (the compound acts like estrogen in the body, altering sperm production in men and promoting endometriosis in women) and environmental concerns. Besides acting as an endocrine disrupter, high concentrations of oxybenzone can also damage fragile ecosystems like coral reefs. Reefs where people do a lot of swimming, such as along Maui’s West Coast, the popular coves in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Miami Beach in Florida are especially at risk, explains research scientist and director of the Haereticus Environmental Lab, Craig A. Downs. The same buildup is common in outdoor swimming pools, so Downs cautions against using those too. "The sanitizer chlorine used in most swimming pools will react with oxybenzone, forming chlorinated oxybenzone. This new chemical is significantly more toxic than oxybenzone."
What to lather on:
Zinc and titanium dioxide.
Before you lock yourself inside for the summer, know that today's sunscreen market isn't a total chemical fest. Since 2007, the EWG has found a dramatic increase in natural, mineral-only sunscreens, doubling from 17 percent of products to 34 percent in 2017. Their top picks include ones that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. According to Lunder, products with zinc oxide or 3 percent avobenzone offer the strongest UVA protection.
Here are some of the natural sunscreens that made it to the EWG's list of approval this year. To check out the rest, head here.
Vegetables are well-known for being good for your health. Most vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
However, some vegetables stand out from the rest with additional proven health benefits, such as the ability to fight inflammation or reduce the risk of disease.
This article takes a look at 14 of the healthiest vegetables and why you should include them in your diet.
This leafy green tops the chart as one of the healthiest vegetables, thanks to its impressive nutrient profile.
One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 56% of your daily vitamin A needs plus your entire daily vitamin K requirement — all for just 7 calories (1).
Spinach also boasts a great deal of antioxidants, which can help reduce the risk of chronic disease.
One study found that dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are high in beta-carotene and lutein, two types of antioxidants that have been associated with a decreased risk of cancer (2).
In addition, a 2015 study found that spinach consumption may be beneficial for heart health, as it may lower blood pressure (3).
Summary: Spinach is rich in antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic disease, as it may reduce risk factors such as high blood pressure.
Carrots are packed with vitamin A, providing 428% of the daily recommended value in just one cup (128 grams) (4).
They contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives carrots their vibrant orange color and could help in cancer prevention (5).
In fact, one study revealed that for each serving of carrots per week, participants’ risk of prostate cancer decreased by 5% (6).
Another study showed that eating carrots may reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers as well. Compared to those who ate carrots at least once a week, smokers who did not eat carrots had a three times greater risk of developing lung cancer (7).
Carrots are also high in vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium (4).
Summary: Carrots are especially high in beta-carotene, which can turn into vitamin A in the body. Their high antioxidant content may help reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancer.
Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables.
It is rich in a sulfur-containing plant compound known as glucosinolate, as well as sulforaphane, a by-product of glucosinolate (8).
Sulforaphane is significant in that it has been shown to have a protective effect against cancer.
In one animal study, sulforaphane was able to reduce the size and number of breast cancer cells while also blocking tumor growth in mice (9).
Eating broccoli may help prevent other types of chronic disease, too.
A 2010 animal study found that consuming broccoli sprouts could protect the heart from disease-causing oxidative stress by lowering levels up to 116% (10).
In addition to its ability to prevent disease, broccoli is also loaded with nutrients.
A cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli provides 116% of your daily vitamin K needs, 135% of the daily vitamin C requirement and a good amount of folate, manganese and potassium (11).
Summary: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains sulforaphane, a compound that may prevent cancer growth. Eating broccoli may also help reduce the risk of chronic disease by protecting against oxidative stress.
Garlic has a long history of use as a medicinal plant, with roots tracing all the way back to ancient China and Egypt (12).
The main component of garlic is allicin, a plant compound that is largely responsible for garlic’s variety of health benefits (13).
Several studies have shown that garlic can regulate blood sugar as well as promote heart health.
In one animal study, diabetic rats were given either garlic oil or diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic. Both garlic compounds caused a decrease in blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity (14).
Another study fed garlic to participants both with and without heart disease. Results showed that garlic was able to decrease total blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol in both groups (15).
Garlic may be useful in the prevention of cancer as well. One test-tube study demonstrated that allicin induced cell death in human liver cancer cells (16).
However, further research is needed to better understand the potential anti-cancer effects of garlic.
Summary: Studies show that garlic may help lower blood triglyceride levels. Some studies have also found that it could decrease blood sugar levels and may have an anti-cancer effect, although more research is needed.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and contain the same health-promoting plant compounds.
Brussels sprouts also contain kaemferol, an antioxidant that may be particularly effective in preventing damage to cells (17).
One animal study found that kaempferol protected against free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells and can contribute to chronic disease (18).
Brussels sprout consumption can help enhance detoxification as well.
One study showed that eating Brussels sprouts led to a 15–30% increase in some of the specific enzymes that control detoxification, which could decrease the risk of colorectal cancer (19).
Additionally, Brussels sprouts are very nutrient-dense. Each serving provides a good amount of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese and potassium (20).
Summary: Brussels sprouts contain an antioxidant called kaempferol, which may protect against oxidative damage to cells and prevent chronic disease. They may also help enhance detoxification in the body.
Like other leafy greens, kale is well-known for its health-promoting qualities, including its nutrient density and antioxidant content.
A cup (67 grams) of raw kale contains plenty of B vitamins, potassium, calcium and copper.
It also fulfills your entire daily requirement for vitamins A, C and K (21).
Due to its high amount of antioxidants, kale may also be beneficial in promoting heart health.
In a 2008 study, 32 men with high cholesterol drank 150 ml of kale juice daily for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, HDL cholesterol increased by 27%, LDL cholesterol decreased by 10% and antioxidant activity was increased (22).
Another study showed that drinking kale juice can decrease blood pressure and may be beneficial in reducing both blood cholesterol and blood sugar (23).
Summary: Kale is high in vitamins A, C and K as well as antioxidants. Studies show that drinking kale juice could reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.
7. Green Peas
Peas are considered a starchy vegetable. This means they have a higher amount of carbs and calories than non-starchy vegetables and may impact blood sugar levels when eaten in large amounts.
Nevertheless, green peas are incredibly nutritious.
One cup (160 grams) of cooked green peas contains 9 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein and vitamins A, C and K, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and folate (24).
Because they are high in fiber, peas support digestive health by enhancing the beneficial bacteria in your gut and promoting regular bowel movements (25).
Moreover, peas are rich in saponins, a type of plant compound known for its anti-cancer effects (26).
Research shows that saponins may help fight cancer by reducing tumor growth and inducing cell death in cancer cells (27).
Summary: Green peas contain a good amount of fiber, which helps support digestive health. They also contain plant compounds called saponins, which may have anti-cancer effects.
8. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is low in calories but high in many essential vitamins and minerals.
One cup (36 grams) contains just 7 calories yet 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein and lots of vitamins A, C and K, manganese and magnesium (28).
Swiss chard is especially known for its unique ability to prevent damage caused by diabetes mellitus.
In one animal study, chard extract was found to reverse the effects of diabetes by decreasing blood sugar levels and preventing cell damage from disease-causing free radicals (29).
Other animal studies have shown that the antioxidant content of chard extract can protect the liver and kidneys from the negative effects of diabetes (30, 31).
Summary: Some animal studies show that Swiss chard could protect against the negative effects of diabetes and may decrease blood sugar levels.
Ginger root is used as a main ingredient in everything from vegetable dishes to desserts.
Historically, ginger has also been used as a natural remedy for motion sickness (32).
Several studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of ginger on nausea. In a review comprised of 12 studies and nearly 1,300 pregnant women, ginger significantly reduced nausea compared to a placebo (33).
Ginger also contains potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful in treating inflammation-related disorders like arthritis, lupus or gout (34).
In one study, participants with osteoarthritis who were treated with a concentrated ginger extract experienced reduced knee pain and relief from other symptoms (35).
Further research suggests that ginger could aid in the treatment of diabetes as well.
A 2015 study looked at the effects of ginger supplements on diabetes. After 12 weeks, ginger was found to be effective in decreasing blood sugar levels (36).
Summary: Studies show that ginger could reduce nausea and alleviate inflammation. Ginger supplements may also help decrease blood sugar.
This spring vegetable is rich in several vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent addition to any diet.
Just half a cup (90 grams) of asparagus provides one-third of your daily folate needs.
This amount also provides plenty of selenium, vitamin K, thiamin and riboflavin (37).
Getting enough folate from sources like asparagus can offer protection from disease and can prevent neural tube birth defects during pregnancy (38, 39).
Some test-tube studies also show that asparagus may benefit the liver by supporting its metabolic function and protecting it against toxicity (40).
Summary: Asparagus is especially high in folate, which may help prevent neural tube birth defects. Test-tube studies have also found that asparagus can support liver function and reduce the risk of toxicity.
11. Red Cabbage
This vegetable belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables and, much like its relatives, is brimming with antioxidants and health-promoting properties.
One cup (89 grams) of raw red cabbage contains 2 grams of fiber as well as 85% of the daily vitamin C requirement (41).
Red cabbage is also rich in anthocyanins, a type of plant compound that contributes to its distinct color as well as a whole host of health benefits.
In a 2012 animal study, rats were fed a diet designed to increase cholesterol levels and increase plaque buildup in the arteries. The rats were then given red cabbage extract.
The study found that red cabbage extract was able to prevent increases in blood cholesterol levels and protect against damage to the heart and liver (42).
These results were supported by another animal study in 2014 that showed that red cabbage could reduce inflammation and prevent liver damage in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet (43).
Summary: Red cabbage contains a good amount of fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins. Certain studies show that red cabbage may decrease blood cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and prevent heart and liver damage.
12. Sweet Potatoes
Classified as a root vegetable, sweet potatoes stand out for their vibrant orange color, sweet taste and impressive health benefits.
One medium sweet potato contains 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese (44).
It’s also high in a form of vitamin A called beta-carotene. In fact, one sweet potato fulfills 438% of your daily vitamin A needs (44).
Beta-carotene consumption has been linked to a significant decrease in the risk of certain types of cancer, including lung and breast cancer (45, 46).
Specific types of sweet potatoes may also contain additional benefits. For example, Caiapo is a type of white sweet potato that may have an anti-diabetic effect.
In one study, people with diabetes were given 4 grams of Caiapo daily over 12 weeks, leading to a reduction in both blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels (47).
Summary: Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which may decrease the risk of some types of cancer. White sweet potatoes could also help reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
13. Collard Greens
Collard greens are a very nutrient-rich vegetable.
One cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens contains 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 27% of your daily calcium needs (48).
In fact, collard greens are one of the best plant sources of calcium available, along with other leafy greens, broccoli and soybeans.
Adequate calcium intake from plant sources can promote bone health and has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis (49).
Collard greens are also high in antioxidants and could even reduce your risk of developing certain diseases.
One study found that eating more than one serving of collard greens per week was associated with a 57% decreased risk of glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to blindness (50).
Another study showed that a high intake of vegetables in the Brassica family, which includes collard greens, may decrease the risk of prostate cancer (51).
Summary: Collard greens are high in calcium, which could reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The regular intake of collard greens has also been associated with a reduced risk of glaucoma and prostate cancer.
Also known as the turnip cabbage or German turnip, kohlrabi is a vegetable related to the cabbage that can be eaten raw or cooked.
Raw kohlrabi is high in fiber, providing 5 grams in each cup (135 grams). It’s also full of vitamin C, providing 140% of the daily value per cup (52).
Studies have shown that the antioxidant content of kohlrabi makes it a powerful tool against inflammation and diabetes (53).
In one animal study, kohlrabi extract was able to decrease blood sugar levels by 64% within just seven days of treatment (54).
Though there are different types of kohlrabi available, studies show that red kohlrabi has nearly twice the amount of phenolic antioxidants and displays stronger anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects (53).
Summary: Kohlrabi is rich in both fiber and vitamin C. Animal studies show that kohlrabi could potentially cause a reduction in blood sugar.
The Bottom Line
From providing essential vitamins and minerals to fighting disease, it’s clear that including vegetables in your diet is crucial for good health. While the vegetables listed here have been extensively studied for their health benefits, there are plenty more vegetables that are also excellent for your health.
Ensure that you’re getting a good mix of vegetables in your diet to take advantage of their many diverse health benefits and get the most nutritional bang for your buck.