Are all vegetables created equal?

Well, what I realy mean is: are all families of vegatables equally as healthy. I think when it is recommended we eat vegatables they mean things like peas and broccoli and cauliflower and peppers. Stuff you pick off a plant. But how about the stuff that groes under the ground, things like beets and carrots and onions. Are they super-healthy, too. Particulalry when it comes to a low-fat source of vitamins? Can I gorge myself on these and not worry about gaining weight?

If you eat too many beets, your pee will turn purple.

No, all vegetables are not the same, they vary widely especially by groups. But color is a good indicator, look for green and yellow veggies for low calorie high nutrition choices.

Also, you can get fat on anything if you eat enough of anything. But some veggies (like cucumbers) are so low in calories that you’d have a really hard time doing so.

They’re quite variable - variable from family to family, from variety to variety and even from one example of the same vegetable to the next.

But broadly speaking…
-Leafy stuff tends not to be very high in energy (at least as far as humans are concerned, since we don’t digest the cellulose), but can be quite a good source of nutrients such as folic acid and assorted vitamins

Things that grow in the ground - that the plant was intending to use as a food store - carrots, potatoes, onions, etc - tend to be quite high in carbohydrates of one sort or another - starches in the case of potatoes - sugars in the case of many others. vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and stuff can be fairly low (potatoes) or quite high (carrots, beets)

Fruits can be quite high in sugars (it’s a bribe from the plant to the animal that is supposed to disperse the seeds), but also a good source of vitamins and antioxidants.

A varied diet is probably more likely to be a healthy one than a diet that is fixated on a smaller number of different foods - so if you’re going to gorge yourself on vegetables, a big mixed salad (or a hearty soup) is better than a sack of carrots.

Beyond that, there aren’t really any general rules of thumb that won’t be vastly outnumbered by their exceptions. Best idea is to find one of those sites that give a breakdown of the nutritional value of various foods and compare and choose.

You probably do need to make sure you don’t make too drastic a change to your regime all at once though - if you switch from a regular meat and potatoes diet to nothing but piles of salad, you might find your body reacting in a way that means you end up being incredibly hungry, upon which you binge on the things you were trying to set aside and leave yourself worse off than if you’d done nothing.

I’d add one more rule of thumb to Mangetout’s excellent list:

If we make an oil from it, it’s going to be one of your higher fat options: corn, soybeans, olives, avocadoes, coconuts, peanuts, almonds, nuts, etc. I know, it sounds dumb, but most people I mention it to don’t think about the fact that corn oil actually does come from corn! While corn the vegetable isn’t high fat by any means, it’s going to have more fat than, say, peas. Avocados have quite a bit of fat (31 grams!), and some of it saturated (6 grams).

This is an ongoing arguement with one particular daughter-in-law. For most diets, corn and peas count as carbs rather than vegetables. And potatoes are definitely high carb. So if you’re having meat with a sugary sauce, you really don’t get to say that you’re eating healthy when you add corn and a baked potato covered with butter and ranch dressing.

Which I wouldn’t mention if she was only cooking for herself, but we live together and I got hit with the type 2 diabetes thing last year. She doesn’t want me fixing my own meal seperately, because that’s unfriendly, but she doesn’t like vegetables and keeps trying to fall back to throwing in canned corn or peas.

The situation is evolving. I have a database with carbs and calories listed. It helps. Yams and cauliflower are also relatively high carb for vegetables, but she doesn’t like those, so it doesn’t come up.

Corn is a grain not a vegetable

Things that grow in hotter (tropical) climates tend to have more saturated fats. That includes coconuts and avacodo. I am suprised to find the banana doesn’t have saturated fat.

Can we get over this myth? Corn IS a vegetable, it’s also a grain. Tomatoes ARE vegetables, even if they’re also fruit. For that matter, zuchinni, cucumbers, peas, nuts, string beans, and a bunch of other things we consider vegetables are fruit, but no one ever does the “blahblah’s a fruit, not a vegetable!” thing about them.

A thing can be a member of more than one group. Fruits ARE vegetables. Grains ARE vegetables. Anything that’s basically a plant part is a vegetable.

Observe the many definitions of vegetable, particularly #2.

OK, off my soapbox now.

All the above ground parts you eat are exposed to whatever nasty stuff that might be airborne. Your neighbor sprays Roundup™ on his perfect lawn every week, your veggies will probably have it on them!
Of course we all thoroughly wash all our produce before eating it, right? Me neither :eek: .

Below ground veggies are exposed to high levels of arsenic if they’re near pressure treated lumber, commonly used to create raised beds.
Does Pressure-Treated Wood Belong in Your Garden?

Neither are huge risks, but it’s something to remember.

CMC fnord! has an interesting way of visually displaying nutrient content.

I did try that. But it’s sold in a can in the vegetable aisle and besides (this being the important thing) she likes eating it. It has to be a vegetable.

I acknowledge that there are different ways to categorize things. My favorite take on it was in an old B.C. comic. The caveman (I think the one with the glasses, if it matters) came up to the caveman in the answer booth. He asks if tomatoes are vegetables or fruit.

The Answer Booth Caveman asks what is going to be done with the information in the answer.

“I’m going to make fuitcake.”

“It’s a vegetable.”

Particularly (inevitably, perhaps) when those groups are defined by different disciplines (i.e. botanist vs gardener vs chef).

Some vegetables are more equal than others

I like the old “eat the rainbow” answer.
Eating a little bit of light greens, dark greens, red, purple, yellow, orange and white is better for you than just eating “greens”. It looks a lot more appetising too. Think about a plate with some grilled chicken with roasted sweet potato and squash, a portion of rataouille and a mixed salad, don’t all the colours look yummy?

As an example, iceberg lettuce contains essentially nothing but water and a little fiber. But for calories, vitamins, minerals, or flavor, it’s basically just a big zero. A nice Romaine, on the other hand, or some endive, will contain a fair amount of vitamins (and also taste a lot better). But cabbage or spinach will have more good stuff than pretty much any lettuce.

irishgirl’s rainbow answer is a good one: More color generally corresponds to more nutrients (exception: Cauliflour and cabbage are both very nutritious, despite their pale color), and different colors often correspond to different nutrients.

As I was mowing the lawn last night, I was munching on celery. Doing the math in my head, I came up with the fact that I was burning calories far faster than the celery was adding them. Now if only it tasted more like . . . anything.

What about rice? There’s several different varieties of rice, which differ in something, I guess…

Rice seems to be nutritionally and calorifically very small for me. Is this usual?

(and yes, anything eaten with chop sticks takes longer)

Any rice is calorifically big. It’s basically pure carbs. If you’re eating white rice, then that’s all it is. With brown rice, though, you’re also getting some fiber and vitamins (A especially, if I recall correctly).

And things only take longer to eat with chopsticks if you’re not very good with them. I can match the speed of any fork, and I understand that some folks can chop much faster than me.

Just to clarify something in the OP, the part of the plant that is eaten has nothing to do with what family it is in. For example, potatoes, turnips, and celeriac all grow underground (as taproots or, in the first case, tubers), but are more closely related to eggplants, bok choy, and celery respectively.