What are the health benefits of eating green vegetables? This article includes tips on how to incorporate them into your daily diet. You’ll also learn what makes cruciferous veggies powerful, and some unique ways to help get more greens in!

kale leaf in the shape of a heart.

Health Benefits of Green Veggies

You’ve probably heard most of your life how important it is to eat your vegetables. Vegetables are some of the healthiest foods you can eat and each vegetable provides us with different vital nutrients. The suggestion “eat the rainbow” is a great way to vary your nutrient intake, as different colors of vegetables contain different nutrients. 

While all vegetables are worth including into your diet, green vegetables contain certain phytonutrients that make them powerhouses of health. Most green vegetables contain significant amounts of iron, magnesium, and calcium. They also contain chlorophyll, a healthy compound that gives them their green hue.

The FDA recommends anywhere from 2-3 cups of vegetables per day to meet dietary guidelines, but it may be beneficial to include more vegetables to ensure you’re absorbing as much fiber and nutrients as possible.

Lastly, green vegetables can help with MTHFR mutation. They can help reduce the need for MTHFR supplements.

Best Green Vegetables

Green vegetables include any vegetable that’s green, of course! But different types of green vegetables belong to different families and provide you with different phytonutrients. Here are some common categories of green vegetables that you’ll want to include in your diet.

Most are low in carbs with very low natural sugars. You may also want to refer to this list of the best keto vegetables.

1. Green Squashes

Yes, squash can be green! Some varieties of green squash include zucchini, romanesco zucchini, cousa squash, pattypan squash, and chayote squash. Green squash is healthy and contains chlorophyll and other antioxidants as well as Vitamin C. They’re also a good source of beta carotene, B vitamins, and fiber.

I find zucchini to be a particularly mild-tasting green vegetable. I like using it in my recipes for Instant Pot Zucchini and Tomatoes, Vegan Zucchini Brownies (you read that right!), or Air Fryer Zucchini Chips.

green zucchini stacked at a market.

2. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are a type of wild lettuce that can be found growing in many parts of the world. They have a bitter taste and are high in vitamins and minerals. Dandelion greens can be eaten raw or cooked, and are a popular ingredient in salads and soups.

I personally find them to be on the bitter side, so I most often blend them into a green smoothie.

Dandelion greens are also on my list of the best gut healing foods!

dandelion greens in a bunch.

3. Microgreens

Microgreens act as a fun garnish for salads, sandwiches, and many other dishes. In addition to being pretty, they are incredibly healthy.

They pack a nutrient punch in a smaller serving. They’re the immature, seedling form of bigger greens like radishes, cilantro, and broccoli and contain as many nutrients as their mature counterparts. These nutrients depend on the microgreen, but can include Vitamin C, chlorophyll, beta carotene, Vitamin K, B vitamins, and Vitamin E.

Learn how to grow broccoli sprouts right on your kitchen countertop. Then, learn how to eat broccoli sprouts and other microgreens. See my list of the best microgreens.

microgreens growing on a table.

4. Herbs

Don’t forget your herbs when considering green vegetables!

Dried or fresh, herbs are incredibly nutrient-dense green vegetables. Herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, and others contain chlorophyll, antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin C, and even anti-fungal properties.

Cooking with herbs will give your dishes better flavor and more nutrients. Some of my favorite recipes using herbs include my Green Vegetable Juice and my Parsley Juice. If you don’t want to make a juice with herbs, then simply start adding them to your meals as a garnish.

fresh cilantro on a table.

5. Green Beans

Green beans are a healthy type of vegetable that is long and thin with a green color. They can be eaten cooked or raw, and are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

There are three main types of green beans: string beans, snap beans, and French beans. You can buy green beans fresh or frozen.

Some of my favorite recipes with green beans include Salmon Stir Fry, Air Fryer Green Beans and Air Fryer Frozen Green Beans.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli florets are small, green florets that come off the main stem of the broccoli plant. They are usually cooked by boiling or steaming them, and they have a slightly bitter taste.

Broccoli florets are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They are also a good source of cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Eating broccoli may help protect against cancer, heart disease, and age-related macular degeneration.

I have lots of broccoli recipes on my site that taste good! If you think you don’t like broccoli, then try my Vegan Broccoli Potato Soup, Air Fryer Frozen Broccoli, or Roasted Frozen Broccoli.

fresh broccoli on a cutting board.

7. Watercress

Watercress is a leafy green vegetable that is typically eaten raw. It has a peppery flavor and is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Some people think watercress is the most healthy green of all!

It is also a good source of calcium and iron. Watercress can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, or sautéing. It is a healthy addition to any meal, but is most commonly served in a salad.

watercress on a white background.

8. Cabbage

Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable that is often used in salads. It has a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

Cabbage is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect the body from disease.

Cabbage can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, and frying. I have many cabbage recipes on my site including Cabbage Vegetable Soup, Slow Cooker Cabbage, and Instant Pot Cabbage.

cutting a green cabbage.

9. Brussels sprouts

Brussel sprouts are a small, cabbage-like vegetable that is often boiled or roasted. They have a slightly bitter taste but are also somewhat sweet. Brussel sprouts are high in fiber and vitamin C, and they also contain antioxidants.

Here are some delicious Brussels sprouts recipes: Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Frozen Brussel Sprouts in Air Fryer.

bowl of brussels sprouts on a table.

10. Bok choy

Bok choy is a type of healthy Chinese cabbage that has a white stalky center and green leaves. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Bok choy is a versatile vegetable that can be cooked in a variety of ways, such as steaming, stir-frying, or braising.

baby boy choy on a bamboo mat.

11. Kale

Kale is a dark, leafy green vegetable that is related to broccoli and cabbage. It has a slightly bitter taste and is a good source of Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale is also high in antioxidants and is considered a superfood.

It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, or sautéing. Kale is a healthy addition to any diet.

Some of my favorite recipes using kale include:

kale in a white bowl on a table.

12. Spinach

Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that has a mild flavor and slightly crunchy texture. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, and folate.

Spinach can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in various dishes. It is best to cook spinach for a short amount of time, as overcooking can make it tough and bitter.

Try spinach in these yummy recipes:

Or, see my post on how to freeze spinach.

13. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is often used in salads. It has a slightly bitter taste and is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Swiss chard also contains antioxidants and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

It can be cooked by boiling, stir-frying, or steaming. You can also eat the stems of Swiss chard, in addition to the tender leaves. I love using it in my Swiss chard smoothie!

swiss chard on a table.

14. Okra

Okra pods are long and slender, and can be green, yellow, or red. They are usually about 6-8 inches long. The pods are edible, and the seeds inside are also edible.

It has a slimy texture and an unusual taste that takes some getting used to, but it is packed with nutritional value and can be cooked in a variety of ways. In the United States, it is most commonly found in Creole cuisine, where it is often used in gumbo.

And I grew up in the Midwest where we ate a ton of okra pickles.

fresh okra on a white background.

15. Asparagus

A vegetable that has been cultivated for as long as 2,000 years, asparagus is one of the oldest vegetables known to man.

It can be found in many different areas around the world and comes in three colors: green, purple and white. The tips are usually the most tender part of this vegetable while it’s stems are often tough and stringy. To prepare a dish with asparagus you must first snap off or cut off any woody parts at its base then boil or steam it until just cooked through.

Try my recipe for Instant Pot Asparagus.

16. Celery

Celery is a crunchy vegetable that has a mild flavor. It is a great addition to salads or can be eaten as a snack. Celery is also high in fiber and vitamin C. It can be cooked by boiling, steaming, or microwaving.

But, celery in most often eaten raw in the United States. It’s a great healthy snack and it’s also great for making Celery Juice!

17. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a lot like water. They’re cool, refreshing and thirst-quenching. In fact, the word “cucumber” comes from the Arabic word for cucumber, which is khiyar.

And what’s great about cucumbers is that they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes! Not to mention that they are rich in vitamins A and C as well as potassium – so you know it’s good for your health too!

But how do you cook with them? Well there are a few ways: pickling them or adding them to salads, grilling or roasting them, or slicing thinly for sandwiches.

Don’t miss my recipes for Carrot Cucumber Salad, Cucumber Ginger Lemon Water, Cucumber Pico de Gallo, or Cucumber Juice.

18. Green peppers

Most people know green peppers only as a crunchy addition to salads. But these versatile vegetables can be cooked in many different ways, and they have a unique flavor that makes them a great addition to many dishes.

Green peppers are bell peppers that have not yet turned red or yellow. They typically have a slightly bitter taste, which some people like and others don’t. Green peppers are a good source of vitamin C, and they also contain antioxidants and other nutrients that are beneficial for your health.

Check out what to serve with stuffed peppers or how to freeze peppers and onions.

19. Tomatillos

Tomatillos are a type of Mexican fruit that is green, tomato-like in texture and size, with a papery skin. Though sometimes called “green tomatoes” or “Mexican tomatoes” to distinguish them from the red variety commonly found in supermarkets, tomatillos are not true tomatoes.

They grow on bushes as opposed to vine plants like regular tomatoes do. Tomatillos have been cultivated by Mesoamericans for centuries and were traditionally eaten raw as snacks or used in sauces and salsas because they taste much better when fresh than when cooked.

tomatillos on a wooden countertop.

20. Arugula

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable that has a peppery, slightly bitter taste. It is typically used in salads, but can also be cooked. Arugula is high in Vitamins A and C, as well as folate. It also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

bowl of fresh arugula leaves.

21. Collard greens

They are related to broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Collard greens have a thick stem and broad leaves. They can be green or purple in color.

Collard greens are usually cooked by boiling, braising, or steaming. They have a slightly bitter taste and are high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals such as potassium and calcium. In the United States, we often associate this vegetable with Southern cooking. I like to make a Collard Green Smoothie!

collard green leaves on a table with towel.

22. Green onions

Green onions are a type of scallion that come in many varieties, the most common being a long green onion with white ends. They can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly sweet taste when eaten raw.

When used as an ingredient in cooking, they add flavor without adding too much heat. Green onions are also high in vitamin A and low in calories.

green onions on a table.

How to Eat Green Veggies Daily

Green vegetables are versatile and can fit nicely into any meal. You can saute them, steam or boil them, roast them, or enjoy them raw or blended into a smoothie. Here are some tips for cooking green vegetables for breakfast, lunch, or dinner:

  • For breakfast, finely chop leafy greens like spinach or kale and saute before cooking into a scramble or frittata. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro for extra nutrients.
  • Another breakfast or snack option is a smoothie. Blend spinach, zucchini, cucumber, or mint into your smoothie. You won’t be able to taste the more neutral vegetables and they will add some fiber and nutrients. See my favorite Swiss Chard Smoothie.
  • For lunch, throw together a big salad filled with lettuce, some dark leafy greens, and microgreens. Here’s a great kale salad recipe.
  • For dinner, enjoy a side of roasted broccoli, okra, or asparagus. Roasting vegetables brings out a natural sweetness and adds a caramelized crunch. The air fryer comes in really handy when you want an easy green vegetable side dish. See all of my healthy air fryer recipes.

FAQs

How many green vegetables do you need to eat?

A serving of green vegetables is roughly one cup. The FDA recommends 1-3 cups of vegetables per day for the average adult. However, it may be beneficial to consume more vegetables to ensure you’re meeting optimal dietary guidelines (not just minimal guidelines) and consuming enough fiber.

Vegetables, especially green vegetables, are low in calories and high in fiber and nutrients. You can eat plenty of veggies as part of a healthy diet, no matter your weight goals. Try to include vegetables with every meal, and include a variety of green vegetables in your rotation.

How much is a serving size of green vegetables?

A serving of vegetables will depend on the vegetable. A serving of sweet potato is very different from a serving of spinach, calorically. A serving of leafy greens is usually one cup and a serving of other vegetables is usually listed as as half a cup, cooked or raw. Many recommendations include using “half your plate” as a guideline for veggies.

Conclusions

For many reasons, it’s very important to eat at least several servings of vegetables a day, with an emphasis on green vegetables. You can make your life easier by incorporating a serving of veggies with each meal, from smoothies to salads to side dishes. Find preparation techniques that you like so you enjoy eating your vegetables.

You may also like my list of the best yellow fruits!

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Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.