Although we all know vegetables are good for us, we may still be buying into myths that some vegetables are nutritional zeros and therefore poor choices for healthy eating. Some of the most maligned items in the produce aisle are white potatoes, iceberg lettuce, and celery—and we bet you have some negative opinions about at least one of those vegetables!
But the truth is, all three are packed full of vitamins…minerals…and phytochemicals. Read on to learn why these veggies don’t deserve their bad rap!
No, Potatoes Won’t Make You Gain Weight
It’s commonly thought that eating white potatoes can lead to weight gain, and there are even studies that corroborate that claim. The reality, however, is that a medium baked potato clocks in at a mere 161 calories, and contains four grams of fiber. Potatoes also contain disease-fighting flavonoids, which have been linked to improved heart health and enhanced resistance to lung and prostate cancers.
Researchers have found that potatoes can play a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure, thanks to the high concentrations of kukoamines—natural plant compound that help lower blood pressure – that they contain. Potatoes are also loaded with another blood pressure regulator: potassium. Eating a single potato will provide 20 percent of your daily recommended allowance of potassium.
Stop Eschewing Iceberg Lettuce!
Despite the rising popularity of greens, iceberg lettuce tends to be sadly neglected. Yet this salad bar staple has lots of goodness to offer! It’s true that dark, leafy greens contain more nutrients than this paler variety of lettuce, but it’s still a good source of key vitamins. A cup of iceberg lettuce contains close to 20% of your daily allowance of vitamin K, a nutrient many of use many need more of, and 15% of your daily allowance of vitamin A, which helps keep eyesight sharp.
There’s no reason not to use iceberg lettuce, especially if you prefer its crisp texture. “Any lettuce that keeps you eating salad is a great vehicle for getting more produce into your day,” Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, told a reporter. Remember, you should be striving to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily!
Celery: More Than Just Low-Calorie
Celery tends to be overlooked for similar reasons to iceberg lettuce. We’ve taken to assuming that because these foods are so low in calories, they must not contain anything of value. Wrong! In the middle ages, celery was used as medicine to treat a variety of ailments, and modern science has helped illuminate the source of the healing powers many once ascribed to this innocuous-seeming vegetable.
If you’re looking for a low-calorie snack option, it’s hard to beat celery. One large rib has only 10 calories, a full gram of fiber, and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Celery is chock full of pthalides, rare compounds that help to prevent hypertension by relaxing your artery walls, as well as apigenin, a phytochemical that inhibits gene mutations, thereby lowering your risk of cancer.