The nutritional value of vegetables is easily answered by the popular media, just slam a couple of very average numbers next to a couple of crops and the consumer/reader is satisfied. It is actually not so easy to answer in a single digit. Everyone wants a single value digit because it is easy to understand and few people apply (they don’t cause you can’t because it will not make sense).

Here is why the nutritional value of vegetables is difficult to explain in single digit numbers. Not all vegetables are consumed for the same nutritional needs. Some vegetables are consumed for calories and some for their protein value, there are even some that are used for their laxative characteristics. So what is important for you, might not be so important for someone else, even though the same vegetable is eaten. Cultural background does make a difference. It is also interesting that of the 3000 plant species used by humans as food, only 150 are used commercially of which potatoes, beans and sweet potato are in the top 10!

Here is another interesting fact about the nutritional content of vegetables, especially those on diets. Most vegetables have a very high water content compared to the energy content for the same volume. So vegetables contain high amounts of nutrients compared to energy, and that is very important for dietitians. Since we require about 2475 calories per day and a good 1 hour exercise will use about 400-500 calories, that leaves about 2000 calories for normal body functions, vegetables can be a good source of food and a way to lose weight. Now here is an interesting fact about tomatoes, they are very low in nutrient content (only ranks fourteenth), but because they are consumed in such large quantities, tomatoes are considered number one in their contribution to the human diet.

There are so many factors that influence the nutritional value of vegetables that it is impossible to preserve all the nutrients and minerals at the time of consumption. For instance: Quality if influenced by soil factors, fertilizers, soil moisture content, irrigation scheduling, harvesting time etc.  The nutritional value of vegetables are significantly influenced by storage and processing, especially vitamins. In general, cold storage increases the retention of vitamins, however, the starch in potatoes are converted to sugars in potatoes that are stored in room temperature. Blanching, a popular culinary cooking technique, leaches large amounts of vitamins and other nutritional solids. They way food is prepared has a significant effect on the nutritional value of vegetables.  Boiling in salt water removes vitamins and minerals. A good tip is to boil the water before the vegetables are placed into the water without salt. Add salt only later. Microwaving vegetables with large amounts of water also reduces the nutrient content, so it is better to use as little water as possible. So one can see there are so many factors influencing the nutritional value of vegetables from growing, harvesting, storage, preparation and the way the vegetables are eaten.  That is why it is difficult to assess the nutritional value of vegetables as a single digit value, but, the consumer wants it so below is a table with some important values to consider.

Nutritional value of vegetables

VegetablePortionWeight (g)Water (%)Calories (kcal)Proteine (g)Total Fat (g)Saturated fatty acids (g)Mono-unsaturated Fatty Acids (g)Poly-unsaturared Fatty Acids (g)Cholestorol (mg0Carbohydrate (g)Total dietary Fibre (g)Calcium (mg)Iron (mg)Potassium (mg)Sodium (mg)Vit A IUVit A REThiamin (mg)Riboflavin (mg)Niacin (mg)Ascorbic acid (mg)
Artichokes - cooked, drained237ml16884846tr0.1tr0.10199.1762.2595160297300.110.111.717
Asparagus - green raw237ml1809243510.1tr0.2082.9361.328820970970.220.231.919
Asparagus - frozen237ml1809150510.2tr0.3092.9411.2392714721480.120.191.944
Asparagus - Canned 5in spears237ml2429446520.40.10.7063.9394.441669512851280.150.242.345
Beans - Lima Ford Hooks237ml170741701010.1tr0.30329.9372.369490323320.130.11.822
Beans - Snap green237ml12589442tr0.1tr0.20104581.63744833840.090.120.812
Beans - Snap Frozen237ml13591382tr0.1tr0.1094.1661.217012541540.050.120.56
Beans - Canned237ml23593272trtrtr0.1062.6351.2147354471470.020.080.36
Beets - Cooked237ml17087753trtr0.10.10173.4271.35191316070.050.070.66
Beets - Canned237ml170915352trtrtr0.10122.9263.12523301920.020.070.37
Beets - Spinach leaves237ml14489394trtr0.10.10348.32111.8690713051300.170.242.34
Broccoli - Raw237ml8891253trtrtr0.1052.6420.82862413571360.060.10.682
Broccoli - Cooked237ml15644510.1tr0.3084.5721.34564121652170.090.180.9116
Broccoli - Frozen237ml18491526trtrtr0.10105.5941.13314434813480.10.150.874
Brussel Sprouts - cooked from raw237ml1568761410.20.10.40144.1561.94953311221120.170.120.997
Brussel Sprouts - cooked from frozen237ml1558765610.1tr0.30136.4371.150436913910.160.180.871
Cabbage - raw237ml7092181trtrtr0.1041.6330.4172139390.040.030.223
Cabbage - Cooked237ml1509433210.1tr0.3073.5470.314612198200.090.080.430
Carrots - Raw Grated237ml11088471trtrtr0.10113.3300.6355393094230940.110.06110
Carrots - Cooked from raw237ml15687702tr0.1tr0.10165.14813541033830438300.050.090.84
Celery - Pieces/diced237ml12095191trtrtr0.1042480.5344104161160.060.050.48
Cucumber - Peeled237ml11996141trtrtr0.1030.8170.217628880.020.010.13
Cucumber - Unpealed237ml10496141trtrtr0.1030.8150.31502224220.020.020.26
Eggplant - Cooked237ml9992281trtrtr0.1072.560.324636360.080.020.61
Leeks - Cooked237ml10491321trtrtr0.1081311.190104850.030.020.24
Lettuce - Butterhead1 Leaf8961trtrtrtrtr0tr0.12tr19tr737trtrtr1
Lettuce - Iceberg1 leaf8961trtrtrtrtr0tr0.12tr131263trtrtrtr
Onions - Raw237ml16090612trtrtr0.10142.9320.42515000.070.030.210
Onions - Cooked237ml21088923tr0.10.10.20212.9460.53496000.090.050.311
Pasrsley - raw10 sprigs10884trtrtrtrtr010.3140.6556520520.010.010.113
Peas - Cooked from raw237ml16089675tr0.1tr0.20114.5673.23846210210.20.120.977
Peas - Canned237ml17082117810.10.10.30217341.629442813061310.210.131.216
Peas - Frozen237ml160801258tr0.1tr0.20238.8382.526913910691070.450.162.416
Peppers - Hot1 Pepper4588181trtrtrtr040.780.51533347350.040.040.4109
Pepper - Sweet237ml149401trtrtrtr0.20102.7130.72643942940.10.040.8133
Pepper - Sweet Cooked237ml136381trtrtrtr0.1091.6120.62263805800.080.040.6101
Potatoes - Baked with skin1 Potato202712205tr0.1tr0.10514.8202.784416000.220.073.326
Potatoes - Baked no skin1 Potato156751453trtrtr0.10342.380.56108000.160.032.220
Potatoes - Baked skin1 Skin58471152trtrtrtr0274.6204.133212000.070.061.88
Potatoes - Boiled, peeled after1 Potato136771183trtrtr0.10272.470.45155000.140.03218
Potatoes - Boiled without skin1 Potato135771162trtrtr0.10272.4110.44437000.130.031.810
Pumpkin - Cooked mashed237ml24594492tr0.1trtr0122.7371.4564226512650.080.19112
Sauerkraut - Canned237ml23693452tr0.1tr0.10105.9713.540115604250.050.050.335
Spinach Raw237ml309271trtrtrtr010.8300.81672420152020.020.060.28
Spinach - Cooked from raw237ml18091415tr0.1tr0.2074.32456.48391261474214740.170.420.918
Spinach - Cooked from frozen237ml19090536tr0.1tr0.20105.72772.95661631479014780.110.320.823
Squash - raw237ml11394231trtrtr0.1052.1230.52202221230.070.040.617
Squash - Cooked237ml1809436210.1tr0.2082.5490.63462517520.080.070.910
Butternut - Frozen Cooked237ml24088943trtrtr0.10242.2461.4319580148020.120.091.18
Tomatoes - Raw237ml1809438210.10.10.208290.84001611211120.110.091.134
Tomatoes - Canned237ml24094462trtrtr0.10102.4721.353035514281440.110.071.834
Tomatoes - Sun dried1 pc2155trtrtrtrtr010.220.269421720.010.010.21
Tomatoes - paste237ml262742151010.20.20.605110.7925.1245523154066390.410.58.4111
Source: Gebhardt, Susan., E. and Robin G. Thomas. 2002. Nutritive Value of Foods. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service, Home and Garden Bulletin 72