We all know that vegetables are good for us - but some are better than others.
A diet rich in leafy green vegetables, for example, can almost halve the risk of colon cancer, scientists at Liverpool University reported recently.
Here, femail.co.uk lists ten of the top ‘super veg’ - along with the ailments they can heal or prevent.
Protects against: Colon cancer, breast cancer
According to research at Liverpool University, broccoli and other leafy greens contain a fibre rich in the sugar galactose, which could help prevent proteins called lectins from binding to the lining of the colon and causing damage.
Broccoli and other cruciferous family vegetables are also rich in indole compounds - plant chemicals which seem to modify oestrogen metabolism, decreasing the risk of breast cancer. Two out of three studies examining the relationship between breast cancer and cruciferous vegetables found that high consumption decreased the risk by 40pc.
A compound called sulphorophane in broccoli also stimulates the production of liver enzymes which destroy cancercausing chemicals.
Protect against: Cancer, heart disease
One of the main active ingredients in tomatoes is the phytochemical lycopene, which fights free radicals that can cause cancer.
According to a review in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who eat a lot of tomato-based foods can reduce their risk of developing various cancers by 40pc.
The evidence for tomatoes’ beneficial effect is strongest for cancers of the prostate, lung and stomach, but it can also be shown for the colon, pancreas, oesophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix.
Processing tomatoes into ketchup, puree or sauce increases the availability of lycopene by softening tough plant cell walls.
Research studying more than 1,000 U.S. and European men found those with the highest levels of lycopene were about half as likely to have had a heart attack.
Protects against: Stomach ulcers, colon cancer, breast cancer
Cabbage is claimed to ease stomach ulcers due to the presence of glutamine and of s-methylmethionine.
The folk remedy is to drink a couple of pints of cabbage juice a day, but freshly made cabbage soup is a far more palatable alternative. As a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, cabbage is also likely to prevent colon cancer and breast cancer.
One U.S. study showed people who ate cabbage more than once a week reduced their chance of contracting bowel cancer by twothirds, though other studies haven’t shown such conclusive results.