The 41 most nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables

Watch above: Crystal Goomansingh reports on the 41 most nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. 

TORONTO – Take a peek in your fridge and fruit bowl – are they packed with powerhouse fruits and vegetables? A new study is ranking produce based on how nutrient-dense each item is with watercress, cabbage and beet greens topping the list.

That’s based on 17 critical nutrients our bodies need: fibre, potassium, protein, calcium folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D among others.

“A powerhouse fruit or vegetable is a fruit or vegetable that’s packed with nutrients that are beneficial in preventing chronic disease,” lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Di Noia said in a video. The William Paterson University scientist’s findings were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal.

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Her hope is that her rankings will help consumers make the best choices at the grocery store.

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READ MORE: What’s the best way to cook vegetables? Steaming, study says

Of 47 foods studied, only six – raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onions and blueberries – didn’t satisfy the powerhouse criterion.

That’s not to say they’re not healthy, though. Di Noia emphasizes that consumers shouldn’t eat strictly those at the top of the list, while avoiding others. Reach for a bounty of produce when making your meals, she suggested.

READ MORE: Some of the worst foods for your heart’s health

Here’s the list of 41 nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables:

Cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens made up most of the top.

  1. Watercress
  2. Chinese cabbage
  3. Chard
  4. Beet greens
  5. Spinach
  6. Chicory
  7. Leaf lettuce
  8. Parsley
  9. Romaine lettuce
  10. Collard green
  11. Turnip green
  12. Mustard green
  13. Endive
  14. Chive
  15. Kale
  16. Dandelion green
  17. Red pepper
  18. Arugula
  19. Broccoli
  20. Pumpkin
  21. Brussels sprouts
  22. Scallions
  23. Kohlrabi
  24. Cauliflower
  25. Cabbage
  26. Carrot
  27. Tomato
  28. Lemon
  29. Iceberg lettuce
  30. Strawberries
  31. Radish
  32. Winter squash (all varieties)
  33. Orange
  34. Lime
  35. Grapefruit (pink and red)
  36. Rutabaga
  37. Turnip
  38. Blackberries
  39. Leeks
  40. Sweet potato
  41. Grapefruit (white)

Eat these fruits and vegetables raw or cooked, just steer away from boiling them, Lauri Wright, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokeswoman told Health Day.

“Fresh, you have 100 percent of the vitamins and minerals,” she said. “When you cook it, you might lose a small percentage, but it’s not significant.”

Boiling your vegetables can lose most of the nutrients – but hang onto the water and include a spoonful with each serving or add it to soups, Di Noia told Health Day.

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Read the full study here.


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