Powerhouse vegetables and fruits for your healthy
Watercress leads the list, red pepper best fruit –
failing to make list: raspberry, tangerine, cranberry,
garlic, onion, and blueberry
7, 2014 – Senior citizens who want to eat healthy, and most do, should
probably put more emphasis on eating watercress. It was ranked number
one among 41 “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables in a study published
earlier this year in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
journal “Preventing Chronic Disease.”
Watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens and
spinach top the list of the healthiest vegetables and fruits, according
to research conducted by Jennifer Di Noia, PhD, an associate professor
of sociology at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.
The top four fruits are red pepper, pumpkin, tomato
The federal government’s
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend consuming a
variety of vegetables each day because different vegetables are rich in
different nutrients. Research as shown that higher consumption of
vegetables may protect against some diseases, including some types of
National nutrition guidelines consistently
emphasize consumption of powerhouse fruits and vegetables (PFV), foods
most strongly associated with reduced chronic disease risk; yet efforts
to define these PFV has been lacking before this study.
Di Noia describes a classification
scheme defining PFV on the basis of 17 nutrients of public health
importance per the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations and Institute of Medicine, including
potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin,
folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.
Vegetables are categorized into five subgroups:
dark-green, red and orange, beans and peas (legumes), starchy, and other
Cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress, fall
into the “dark-green vegetables” category and the “other vegetables”
category. More information about vegetables and diet, including how much
of these foods should be eaten daily or weekly, is available from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture website
Choose My Plate
This is the first time that the nutritional values
of nutrient-dense fruits have been ranked to provide a measurable tool
for nutrition education and dietary guidance.
The study developed and validated a classification
scheme defining “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” as foods providing,
on average, ten percent or more daily value per 100 kcal of the 17
“Higher-ranking foods provide more nutrients per
calories,” says Di Noia. “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.”
Of 47 foods studied, 41 satisfied
the powerhouse criterion and were more nutrient-dense than were non-PFV.
All but 6 (raspberry, tangerine, cranberry, garlic, onion, and
blueberry) satisfied the powerhouse criterion (Table
Scores above 100 were capped at
100. Items in cruciferous (watercress, Chinese cabbage, collard green,
kale, arugula) and green leafy (chard, beet green, spinach, chicory,
leaf lettuce) groups were concentrated in the top half of the
distribution of scores (Table 2) whereas items belonging to
yellow/orange (carrot, tomato, winter squash, sweet potato), allium
(scallion, leek), citrus (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit), and berry
(strawberry, blackberry) groups were concentrated in the bottom half.
Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables, by Ranking of Nutrient Density Scores,
Winter squash (all)
Grapefruit (pink & red)
- Bioavailability of Nutrients Used to Weight Nutrient Density Scores,
Values shown represent the
bioavailability of naturally occurring forms of the nutrients. When a
range of values was reported, the lowest value in the range was used as
the weighting factor.
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