Chew on This

Beyond broccoli: Green beans, radishes & radicchio are superstars


There seems to be a hierarchy of vegetables. Cauliflower, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are usually in the super food list. But what about some of the veggies that rarely get press.

Aren’t they super even if they get no attention? Since I think so, today is a shout out to some of my favorites that rarely make a top 10 list.

Before I knew how to spell the word nutrition raw, cold and crunchy green beans were my go-to snack. Maybe they aren’t highly valued since so many of us first met over cooked mushy ones on a school lunch tray. Erase that image. Green beans are terrific. They have highly valued phytonutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids. They are a good source of vitamins A and C as well as manganese and silicon. Raw, sautéed or roasted they add a beautiful green to any dish.

My next two shout-out veggies are considered garnish by many. I speak of radishes and radicchio. Radishes belong to the Brassica family of vegetables. Others in this family are broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. That’s a clue that these pungent little globes are a nutrition powerhouse. Radishes contain the well-studied phytonutrient sulphoraphane, which appears to inhibit cancer cell growth. A Chinese proverb states “eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees."

Radicchio is a red leafy vegetable that is often found with a scoop of tuna on top or torn up in a spring mix. The leaves contain lutein and zeaxanthin, the two phytonutrients that can slow progression of age-related macular degeneration. Radicchio is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for building strong bones.

The goal for us all is to eat more vegetables. It doesn’t matter if your favorites aren’t members of the super food club. All vegetables offer great taste and better health.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.