Eating for Health

Published on April 22nd, 2014 | by Jill Ettinger


6 Healthy, Vegan ‘White Foods’ You Probably Should be Eating More of


“White” and “food” typically go together like “diabetes” and “obesity.” Steer clear of white foods if you want to avoid those unhealthy conditions. But, of course, white foods aren’t only limited to processed flours and sugars. They can actually be pretty healthy for you. Are you eating these healthy white foods?

Beans – Beans come in a rainbow of flavors and colors, including white. Cannellini beans and northern beans are just two white varieties. But don’t think they’re any less healthy than other beans! A one-cup serving of white beans provides almost half of your recommended daily intake of fiber, more than 30 percent of recommended protein, and they’re also a good source of omega fatty acids, vitamins and vital minerals.

Cauliflower – You can find cauliflower now in a rainbow of colors, but white works just as well. It’s a cruciferous veggie like cabbage, kale and broccoli, making it a super healthy source of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing phytochemicals. They become more active during cooking and digestion, and glucosinolates may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Turnips – Almost white, except for the pinkish hue on the tops, when peeled, turnips are a truly white food. But they’re a good-for-you food loaded with vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Along with cauliflower, you can make a delicious mashed potato alternative.

Parsnips – Less colorful than carrots, parsnips are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’re generally inexpensive and make for great additions to soups, stews and any recipe that calls for carrots.

Mushrooms – The button mushroom has been upstaged in recent years for more exotic (and pricey!) fungi including chanterelles, morels, shiitake, reishi and my personal favorite: the lobster mushroom (contains no lobster!). But those inexpensive white button mushrooms offer you up a good amount of health benefits including fiber, protein, and a really hefty amount of vegan vitamin D (28 percent!). Plus, mushrooms have been shown to contain cancer-preventing phtyochemicals.

Tofu – While beans are already mentioned on this list and tofu comes from beans, it is worth being called out separately. Tofu and all soy products are controversial. While they’ve been part of healthy Asian diets for thousands of years, overuse and highly processed options in the American diet have been linked with some health risks. But in moderation, tofu can be part of a healthy diet providing nearly half the RDA for calcium, ten grams of protein and a hearty dose of iron. Always opt for organic to make sure you’re getting GMO-free tofu.

All nutrition information via Google’s Nutrition Profile Tool.

Image via Horia Varlin


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About the Author

Jill Ettinger is co-director of Eat Drink Better. She is the senior editor at and A focus on food, herbs, wellness and world cultural expressions, Jill explores what our shifting food, healing systems and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Stay in touch on Twitter @jillettinger and .

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