What fruits and vegetables really deliver nutrients? Scientists analyzed and came up with the top ten.
Eat Your Greens (And Reds And Yellows)
Countless the lists claiming to show you the “23 superfoods you need to know” (“Mr. Smith, this is Mr. Kale”), the “best 8 fruits for better health” and… well, you know the creativity of headline writers.
At other times they declare one food king of the crop (excuse the tired expression; I couldn’t resist its aptness), but it changes on a monthly basis. Today it’s broccoli, but before you are finished with the leftovers you learn you should have gone for cabbage all along.
None of that had any real scientific backing. Until now, when researchers from William Paterson University presented an approach with sound methodology.
The Top 10 Fruits And Vegetables
They took over 100 fruits and vegetables and analyzed their content of 17 nutrients, from protein over minerals to vitamins. Then they ranked them according to nutrient content per 100 kcal with a maximum score of 100 points.
Out came this list:
- Collard green (62.49)
- Romaine lettuce (63.48)
- Parsley (65.59)
- Leaf lettuce (70.73)
- Chicory (73.36)
- Spinach (86.43)
- Beet green (87.08)
- Chard (89.27)
- Chinese cabbage (91.99)
- Watercress (1oo)
Who would have thought that watercress scores that high? Then again, you can hardly eat tons of it, as much as you wouldn’t make a meal consisting of nothing but parsley.
Not to mention that I have some deeply personal experiences with chicory.
Still, if you looked for some guidance about choosing healthy foods, this is way more reliable than the fantasies of health magazine editors. And sprinkling your salad with a little watercress sure doesn’t hurt.
If you put the critical eye to that list that I expect of my readers, you’ll have noticed a glaring absence: where are the fruits? No apples? No bananas? Give me my strawberries! Aren’t those that healthy after all?
No, them missing is due to a scientific problem and no reason for a stern look at the humble banana.
Fruits contain physiologically active substances called “phytonutrients” thought to benefit human health. But there’s so many of them that so far no one has undertaken classifying them all. Your average apple, for example, comes with about 2,000. And that’s just for apples.
Have your fruits and take the above list as a guideline for vegetables, nothing more.
Does This Influence Your Nutrition?
I try to eat salads at least once a week and Romaine and leaf lettuce are regular guests in our kitchen. You’ll never get me to eat chicory, but the others I’ll think about inviting more.
Will you try to work them a bit more into your nutrition? Or are you triumphantly standing above us, saying “ha, I knew it all along”?
Picture courtesy of David Wagner.