Watercress is the most Nutrient Packed Vegetable to Eat, Study Finds
People know that eating vegetables and fruits is good for the body. However, not all of items are made the same. According to a new report, certain vegetables pack more nutrients than others. The researchers decided to rank different kinds of produce and listed watercress, Chinese cabbage and chard as the top three leaders.
"Higher-ranking foods provide more nutrients per calories," Jennifer Di Noia, an associate professor of sociology at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., said. "The scores may help focus consumers on their daily energy needs, and how best to get the most nutrients from their foods. The rankings provide clarity on the nutrient quality of the different foods and may aid in the selection of more nutrient-dense items within the powerhouse group."
Di Noia analyzed data on the nutritional value of 47 fruits and vegetables provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She ranked the products based on the ratio of nutrients to calories. Out of the 47 items, only six could not be considered powerhouse foods.
Overall, mainly cruciferous and dark green leafy vegetables made the top ten with watercress earning the coveted number one spot. Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, romaine lettuce and collard greens followed watercress in that order. These vegetables all had higher levels of vitamins B, C and K, iron, riboflavin, niacin and folate.
The study also found that many of the leafy greens that grow atop carrots, celery or beets are packed with nutrients as well. Instead of cutting them off and tossing them aside, people should incorporate them into their dishes. In addition, experts remind people that in order to reap the benefits from these products, they should eat them raw if possible or cook them using any kinds of method except boiling. If cooks choose to boil the vegetables, they should keep and recuse the nutrient-packed water.
"They have a lot of the B-vitamins and a lot of fiber in the leaves," said Lauri Wright, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported by Philly. "If you think about plants, that's where they store their nutrients. Those green leafy vegetables have a lot of minerals and vitamins and fiber in those leaves, and very few calories."
On the other end of the list, there were six fruits and vegetables that did not qualify as powerhouse foods. These items were raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onions and blueberries. The report found that even though these items contained vitamins and minerals, they did not have high levels of the other, more important nutrients.
The full ranking of the vegetables and fruits was published in Preventing Chronic Disease.