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Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica)
is an edible green plant belonging to the cabbage family. This cruciferous vegetable is best cultivated in cool weather and grows 18-30 inches tall. Both the stem and the large head of tight green flower buds can be consumed raw or cooked.
Very low in fat and high in soluble fiber, broccoli provides protein and is packed with phytochemicals that include glucobrassicin, the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, and the flavonoid kaempferol. Broccoli also contains glucoraphanin (the precursor to sulforaphane) and Indole-3-carbinol. It has a high level of folate and calcium, and is a good source of potassium, vitamin C and pyridoxine.
Carrots (Daucas carota)
are a biennial plant consisting of a rosette of leafy dark green foliage and a taproot. Although the leaves of the carrot are edible, the root is the most commonly consumed part of the plant.
Carrots are well-known for their high content of beta-carotene. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium, and contain other important nutrients like thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6 and manganese.*
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
is a popular green leafy vegetable consumed raw or cooked. Native to central and western Asia, spinach is related to amaranth, quinoa, beet and chard. The leaves are alternate, oval to triangular in shape, mostly flat, and varied in size, with the leaves at the base of the plant being larger than the leaves higher up the stem.
Spinach is a very good source of carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin), flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin) and dietary nitrates, as well as a good source of dietary fiber, especially insoluble fiber, and protein. It also contains good amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese, and vitamins C, E, K, B6, thiamin, riboflavin and folate.*
Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala)
is a member of the Brassica family which includes other cool weather vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. Grown for its edible leaves, which are typically light green to dark green or purple, kale’s leaves stand upright and are not packed tight into a head like cabbage leaves, which is why it is called ‘acephala’, meaning headless in Greek.
One of the most nutrient-dense foods available, Kale is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. It is a good source of vitamin E, several B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, amino acids and dietary fiber, and also contains some alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid. Kale is also very good source of numerous plant compounds like chlorophyll, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, flavonoids like kaempferol and quercetin, and glucosinolates, which are broken down into biologically active compounds such as indoles like indole-3- carbinol, and isothiocyanates like sulforaphane.*
Beet plants (Beta vulgaris)
are often grown for their edible taproot, but the beet leaves, or ‘beet greens’, are also consumed. There are several varieties of beet that are of varying shapes and come in different shades of red, yellow or white. Beets are grown worldwide and prefer relatively cool weather, but not severe frosts, for cultivation.
Beet root is an excellent source of dietary nitrate which is transformed in the body to nitrite in the blood, then into the biological messenger molecule, nitric oxide. It is also a rich source of betacyanins; betalain pigments which give red beet root its reddish-purple color. Beet root also contains smaller amounts of phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, phenolic acids and phenolic amides. It is are also rich in carbohydrates, a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, sodium, copper, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, amino acids and dietary fibers, both soluble and insoluble.*