Researchers have just devised a new list of powerhouse fruits and veggies (PFV). Watercress is the new champion with other leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables dominating the rest of the list. In fact, by combining several of the top foods, you could make a single-serving highly nutritious salad.
Although we often hear about the ‘powerhouse’ fruits and vegetables (those most strongly associated with lowering the risk for chronic disease), there has been a lack of definitive guidelines showing which foods truly live up to this superfood status.
This ambiguity prompted researchers to classify those vegetables and fruits that actually contain the highest nutrient density and bioavailability out of those that are often listed as powerhouse foods.
Using nutritional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, researchers from William Paterson University developed a classification system that would define powerhouse fruits and vegetables as those that, on average, offered 10% or more of the daily recommended intake of 17 nutrients in a 100-calorie serving.
These nutrients, known for their role in reducing the risk for chronic disease, include vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and zinc. Individual nutrient values were “capped,” however, so that any one nutrient could not contribute disproportionately to the total score. The foods that scored the highest are those that provide more of these nutrients.
10. Collard Greens. Of all the cruciferous vegetables, collard greens may be the best at lowering bad cholesterol; this cancer-fighting vegetable is loaded with over 800% of your daily vitamin K.
9. Romaine Lettuce. Low in calories and high in dietary fiber, romaine lettuce is also an excellent source of Vitamins A, K, and folate.
8. Parsley. Known as a digestive aid and breath freshener, parsley is very high in vitamins K, C, and A.
7. Leaf lettuce. Lettuce whose leaves grow as a single loose stalk rather than a tight ball, leaf lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber.
6. Chicory. Chicory is known for its ability to help people with liver problems, regulate blood sugar levels, and help support digestion.
5. Spinach. Long heralded as a superfood, spinach is high in magnesium, iron, folate, and vitamins A, B2, C, and K.
4. Beet greens. These are the stalks of the beet root and are higher in nutritional value than the beet itself.
3. Chard. Chard is a unique blood-sugar regulator and high in vitamins K and A.
2. Chinese cabbage. High in folic acid, vitamin A and potassium, chinese cabbage is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
1. Watercress. An aquatic plant with a solid reputation as a healing herb, watercress contains more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than an orange.
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