Monday, September 12, 2011

The 3 Veggies with the Least Nutritional Value

1.    Celery: Sure, you can nosh on 8 inches of celery for only 6 calories, but are you really getting any nutrients in return? The answer: Yes, but you'd have to go beyond an 8-inch stalk, which provides a mere 1.6 percent of our daily requirement for calcium and 2 percent of our daily requirement for vitamin C. It does, however, boast a decent amount of fiber and vitamin K. A better alternative: Carrots, which are loaded with eye-protecting beta carotene. Toss them into salads for a low-calorie crunch; braise them as a sweet summer side dish or slice them thin and add them to your favorite stir-fry.

2.    Cucumbers: The cucumber is another low-calorie veggie. One cup of sliced cucumber weighs in at only 16 calories. But it's slim on nutrients, too. In fact, cucumbers contain 5 percent or less of our daily requirement for potassium, manganese, magnesium and vitamin C. On the plus side, cucumber extracts (not the whole cucumber) do have a number of disease-fighting antioxidant compounds, like tannins and flavonoids, says Registered Dietitian and Chef Consultant Michelle Dudash. A better alternative: Purslane, a peppery herb that's high in heart-healthy alpha linolenic acid (a type of omega-3). It's also higher in beta carotene than spinach. Toss it in salads, fold it into omelets or use it as a crunchy green on sandwiches.

3.    Iceberg Lettuce: Iceberg lettuce is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables in the U.S., along with
potatoes (as French fries) and tomatoes, but that doesn't mean it's the healthiest option. While iceberg is low in calories and offers some vitamins and fiber, other dark leafy greens contain much more vitamin A and C. A better alternative: Romaine lettuce, which offers much more beta carotene than iceberg. Use romaine in a traditional wedge salad with blue cheese crumbles, diced tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette, or layer it on turkey sandwiches.

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