3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are often thought of as high in calories and carbs because they are so naturally sweet. But don’t let that fool you.
Heather Mangieri, RD, says, "Sweet potatoes are nutritional all-stars and one of the best vegetables you can eat. Not only are they a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, but this highly underrated vegetable is so versatile it can be enjoyed with very few extra calories or embellishment."
She suggests topping a slow-baked sweet potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon, applesauce, and crushed pineapple. Or try topping it with black beans and salsa. Other options: Mash it or slice it into fries and oven bake then until golden brown.
4. Red Cabbage
Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, physician and registered dietitian, votes for the cruciferous vegetable red cabbage.
"[It's] a great source of fiber; vitamins A, D, and K; folate; and lots of trace minerals with only 22 calories in one cup chopped," Gerbstadt says. "Rich in antioxidants, this veggie can boost cancer-fighting enzymes. You can eat it raw, cooked, sweet, savory, stand-alone in a dish like coleslaw, or added to almost anything from soups, to salads, casseroles, sandwiches, burgers, and more."
She suggests keeping a head of red cabbage in your crisper to inspire creative ways to add more color and nutrition to your meals.
5. Canned Tomatoes
Fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes are a staple in the pantry of Georgia State University professor emeritus Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD. "Everyone thinks fresh is best but cooking tomatoes helps release some of the disease-fighting lycopene so it is better absorbed," Rosenbloom says.
A study in the 2009 Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that a diet rich in tomatoes may help prevent prostate cancer and that lycopene, a strong antioxidant, may also help prevent other types of cancer. Of course, many other lifestyle and genetic factors also affect cancer risk.
Stock your pantry with canned tomatoes for pizza, spaghetti sauce, and home-made salsa, or toss a can into soups, stews, casseroles, greens, or pasta dishes. And if your power goes out, "canned foods are a lifesaver," Rosenbloom says.
If canned tomatoes are not your favorite, how about low-sodium vegetable juice? Sheah Rarback, MS, RD, nominates vegetable juice that has been around for a long time with only 140 mg of sodium and that is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium.