You know vegetables are good for you – but are they all created equal, and which one really is the best?
Turns out it’s watercress.
Researchers from William Paterson University in New Jersey have compiled and published a list of 41 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” that were ranked based on their nutrient density.
The rating scheme defined a “powerhouse fruit and vegetable” as one that provided 10% or more daily value per 100 calorie of 17 different nutrients, one of which was fiber.
The cruciferous and leafy green vegetables dominated the upper half of the distribution of scores, with watercress taking the prize as the most nutrient dense produce (and a perfect score of 100).
Following watercress, the runners up were:
- Chinese cabbage (92)
- Chard (89)
- Beet greens (87)
- Spinach (86)
- Chicory (73)
The top scoring fruits were:
- Red peppers (41)
- Pumpkin (32)
- Tomato (20)
- Lemon (18)
Wondering where the berries are? Berries, you might have heard, are high in antioxidants, a type of phytochemical.
Phytochemicals (plant properties that may yield health benefits) were left off the list, as their true health impact is not entirely known. As the authors stated, “there are no uniform data on food phytochemicals and…recommended intake amounts for these compounds are lacking…So the scores are based on nutrients only.”
Still, when it comes to known nutrient density, watercress takes the cake. Three cups chopped watercress has 0.5 grams dietary fiber for just 11 calories. For more watercress nutrient know-how, click here.