In this report
Overview

Five overlooked vegetables that deserve a second chance

Last reviewed: August 2011
VIDEO:
 
 

How often you eat vegetables, and what kind, depends in part on your age, gender, and where you live. That's one of the findings from a recent nationally representative survey in which we asked Americans this question about 33 vegetables: In the last month, is this something you ate once a week or more, less than once a week, or rarely or never?

Age

Respondents 70 or older were most likely to have eaten cauliflower, celery, sweet potato, or yellow squash. (Perhaps older generations were accustomed to certain vegetables earlier in life, some vegetables are easier to prepare and digest, and people's tastes and preferences change.) Thirty-somethings were much less likely to eat their spinach than others.

Gender

Men eat potatoes more often than women, especially as fries, though mashed potatoes are favored by each gender. Women are a lot more likely to eat broccoli, celery, and yellow squash.

Region

Collard greens, corn, and okra are popular in the South, and beets in the Northeast. But there are less-expected regional preferences for other vegetables: 46 percent of respondents in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee ate cabbage at least once a week, compared with 25 percent of those in other regions. And cauliflower is more popular in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin than elsewhere.

Overlooked vegetables

Broccoli, carrots, corn, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes were each eaten by at least half of Americans at least once a week in the past month. Those are nutritious choices. But the vegetables Americans eat least—artichokes, bok choy, eggplant, parsnips (the biggest loser: 87 percent said they rarely or never ate them in the past month), Swiss chard, turnips or rutabagas, and others also have a wealth of nutrients. You can find them at farmers markets, which feature in-season produce that's fresh and flavorful.

Our food experts singled out five overlooked vegetables to try. Here's why:

Artichokes

Artichokes
Artichokes

Especially high in fiber, folate, and vitamin K; good source of magnesium and vitamin C. Smart option for pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant and for older adults concerned about blood pressure and blood sugar.

 

Bok choy

Bok choy
Bok choy

Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K; good source of calcium, folate, and potassium. Especially good choice for children and pregnant or menopausal women.

 

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts

Excellent source of folate and vitamins A, C, and K; good source of fiber, iron, and potassium. Good choice for children and pregnant women.

 

Mustard greens

Mustard greens
Mustard greens

Excellent source of folate and vitamins A, C, and K; good source of calcium and fiber. Good choice for children and pregnant or menopausal women.

 

Swiss chard

Swiss chard
Swiss chard

One cup cooked has more iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E than any vegetable listed here. Excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. Good source of calcium, fiber, and vitamin E. Its nutrients are key for growth and immune system support.