Greens of all colours are wealthy in nutritional vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. You possibly can’t go fallacious including extra colourful merchandise to your plate. Nonetheless, greens are excessive in vitamins in comparison with energy, making them exceptionally useful for weight management and well being.
The developer of Nutrient Weight loss program, Dr. Fuhrman, got here up with the concept of an ANDI (Complete Nutrient Density Index) to measure the nutrient content material of fruit and veggies relative to their energy. Utilizing the ANDI rating, the researchers took the time-consuming process of sorting 41 fruit and veggies in line with their nutrient density. Let’s examine which product tops the record when it comes to nutrient density per calorie, based mostly on the ANDI rating.
Watercress (Nutrient Density Rating 100%)
Watercress tops the record of nutrient-rich greens per calorie based mostly on ANDI standards. Watercress is a darkish inexperienced, leafy vegetable that grows in cool, clear streams and rivers, and you’ll take pleasure in its tangy taste uncooked or cooked. Nonetheless, for those who eat this leafy inexperienced uncooked, you’ll retain extra of its vitamin C. Watercress provides a kick to salads, wraps and sandwiches. Together with vitamin C, hyacinth is wealthy in vitamin Ok, essential for blood clotting and bone density, and beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A and an antioxidant and anti inflammatory.
Much more fascinating are the antioxidants in watercress, together with phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). One examine discovered that the antioxidants in hyacinth suppress harm DNA, the genetic material of a cell. In the study, the results were most pronounced in smokers. Although hyacinth’s cancer-fighting ability is an area that needs more research, you can’t go wrong adding hyacinth to your plate.
Chinese Cabbage (Nutrient Density Score 92%)
Chinese cabbage is also called Napa cabbage, and is a member of the Brassica family. This green leafy vegetable has long, pale green leaves with white ribs and a sweet taste. Since it is a cruciferous vegetable, like hyacinth and broccoli, it contains similar phytochemicals, some of which are being discovered to have potential anti-cancer benefits.
What you may not know about Chinese cabbage is that it has more nutrients than regular cabbage, providing some vitamins like vitamins C, K, and folate, a B-vitamin. In addition, it contains various antioxidants with anti-inflammatory activity, all for only 9 calories in one cup.
To get the most vitamin C from Chinese cabbage, enjoy it raw in salads and sandwiches. If you like it cooked, add chopped leaves or ribs to the fry along with other Asian ingredients. Stir-fry recipes usually have a garlic and ginger base, which works well with the mild flavor of Chinese cabbage. Add chicken, shrimp or tofu for protein.
Swiss Chard (Nutrient Density Score 89%)
Swiss chard, also known as leaf beet, is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the same family as beets. Its leaves have a mild flavor similar to spinach, but have a slightly tougher texture that softens as it cooks. Swiss chard is a rich source of vitamin K, although it contains less vitamin C per calorie than the top two nutrient-rich vegetables, watercress and Chinese cabbage.
One downside is that Swiss chard is high in oxalates. If you have a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones, it is best to avoid Swiss chard as it can increase the amount of oxalate in your urine and increase your chances of forming kidney stones. Cooking Swiss chard reduces, but does not eliminate, oxalates.
Need a quick way to prepare this? Sauté swiss chard in olive oil until it dries out (about 5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Beet Greens (Nutrient Density Score 87%)
Beet greens are beet leaves, colorful root vegetables that grow in the ground. Beet greens are similar in texture and taste to spinach but have a more intense flavor. You can eat these green leafy vegetables raw in salads or cooked like spinach, Swiss chard, or other leafy greens. But like Swiss chard, they are high in oxalate, so it’s best to cook them to reduce the oxalate content.
Enjoy beet greens cooked or steamed, and tossed with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar. You can also saute them with garlic and onions for a delicious side dish to add to your dinner plate.
Why are beet leaves so rich in nutrients? With each bite, you get a healthy dose of vitamins A and C, but they also contain respectable amounts of minerals like iron and zinc.
Spinach (Nutrient Density Score 86%)
Who is not familiar with the green leafy vegetable known as spinach? It is widely available and loaded with nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, and like all leafy greens, is an excellent source of fiber.
Like Swiss chard, beet greens and spinach, spinach is also high in oxalate. If you have a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones, it is safest to substitute lower oxalate greens such as watercress or kale for spinach.
Spinach also contains compounds called thylakoids that have appetite-reducing benefits. In addition, spinach is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, common causes of visual decline.
Leafy greens dominate the list
You may have noticed a trend. Leafy greens top the list of nutrient-rich foods per calorie. Another benefit of leafy greens is that they are high in natural nitrates, compounds that increase nitric oxide, a gas that helps open up blood vessels. It enhances endothelial function, healthy blood vessel function that lowers blood pressure, and the risk of blood clots, another reason to add greens to your plate.
Leafy greens are rich in nutrients and low in calories and top the list in terms of ANDI scores. Still, it’s smart to enjoy a wide range of non-starchy vegetables and fruits for optimal health. Almost all contain adequate amounts of potassium, a mineral and electrolyte that helps lower blood pressure. So, fill your grocery cart with fruits and vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow, but don’t forget to add these five vegetables with the highest ANDI scores.
- “Watercress Supplementation in the Diet Reduces Lymphocyte DNA Damage and Blood Antioxidant Status in Healthy Adults” by Chris I.R. Gill, Sumanto Halder, Lindsey A. Boyd, Richard Bennett, Joy Whiteford, Michelle Butler, Jenny R. Pearson, Ian Bradbury and Ian R. Rowland replaces”. 1 February 2007, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
- “Intake of thylakoid-rich spinach extract reduces appetite, increases satiety and reduces craving for tasty food in overweight women” Eva-Lena Steinblom, Emil Igecioglu, Mona Landin-Olson and Charlotte Erlanson-Albertson by, 17 April 2015, appetite,
- “ANDI Food Scores: Rating the Nutrient Density of Foods.” 16 March 2017, drfuhrman.com/blog/128/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods.
- “Joel Fuhrman Micronutrient Food List – HRF.” healthresearchfunding.org/joel-fuhrman-micronutrients-food-list/.
- Candida J. Rebello, MS, RD, Jessica Chu, BS, Robbie Beale, PhD, Dan Edval, PhD, “Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract” by Charlotte Erlanson-Albertson, PhD. and Frank L. Greenway, MD, June 1, 2015, Journal of the American College of Nutrition,