40 top disease-fighting fruits and vegetables

This nifty list ranks popular plant foods by the 17 nutrients thought to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.

At this point the advice to eat fruit and vegetables for optimal health has been roundly hammered into our heads – but where do we go from there? Once we've embraced the idea of plants on the plate, is their further room for improvement? To take it to the next level, Jennifer Di Noia, associate professor of sociology at William Paterson University, took an in-depth look at the nutrient profiles of 47 fruits and vegetables.

Di Noia focused on 17 nutrients that the United Nations and the Institute of Medicine consider essential to good health and for lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer: Potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. She then calculated how many of these nutrients each food contained per calorie of energy that it provided. The more nutrients per calorie, the higher rating a food received, as indicated by the corresponding number in the list below. “It gives people a way of thinking how to maximize the nutrients per calorie,” she says.

Since the ranking doesn’t consider foods based on their phytochemicals, you may notice an absence of the usual contenders on lists of this ilk (as in, no blueberries). Instead, think of these as the basic powerhouse fruits and vegetables … and know that anytime you select produce over processed food you really can't go wrong. And perhaps the best takeaway? I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Watercress.

1. Watercress: 100.00
2. Chinese cabbage: 91.99
3. Chard: 89.27
4. Beet green: 87.08
5. Spinach: 86.43
6. Chicory: 73.36
7. Leaf lettuce: 70.73
8. Parsley: 65.59
9. Romaine lettuce: 63.48
10. Collard green: 62.49
11. Turnip green: 62.12
12. Mustard green: 61.39
13. Endive: 60.44
14. Chive: 54.80
15. Kale: 49.07
16. Dandelion green: 46.34
17. Red pepper: 41.26
18. Arugula: 37.65
19. Broccoli: 34.89
20. Pumpkin: 33.82
21. Brussels sprout: 32.23
22. Scallion: 27.35
23. Kohlrabi: 25.92
24. Cauliflower: 25.13
25. Cabbage: 24.51
26. Carrot: 22.60
27. Tomato: 20.37
28. Lemon: 18.72
29. Iceberg lettuce: 18.28
30. Strawberry: 17.59
31. Radish: 16.91
32. Winter squash (all varieties): 13.89
33. Orange: 12.91
34. Lime: 12.23
35. Grapefruit (pink and red): 11.64
36. Rutabaga: 11.58
37. Turnip: 11.43
38. Blackberry: 11.39
39. Leek: 10.69
40. Sweet potato: 10.51

Tags: Cancer | Diseases | Fruits & Vegetables | Vegetarian

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