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.
Her hope is that her rankings will help consumers make the best choices at the grocery store.
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.
Here’s the list of 41 nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables:
Cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens made up most of the top.
- Chinese cabbage
- Beet greens
- Leaf lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Collard green
- Turnip green
- Mustard green
- Dandelion green
- Red pepper
- Brussels sprouts
- Iceberg lettuce
- Winter squash (all varieties)
- Grapefruit (pink and red)
- Sweet potato
- 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.
Read the full study here.