Because choosing the right food is already half the battle in the quest for a healthier diet.
When it comes to nutrition, we all know the phrase. For a healthy diet, you have to eat at least 5 fruit and vegetables per day. That’s all well and good, but few wellness aficionados actually follow this guideline to the letter. To convert the eternally undecided, health experts are stepping up their research into the nutritional qualities of food and thus raising consumer awareness of “eating well.” Among them is Dr. Jennifer Di Noia, a tenured professor at William Patterson University in New Jersey. In 2014, she carried out a study aiming to class fruit and vegetables according to the essential nutrients they contain, in order to identify the healthiest and most interesting for stimulating the body. And the results will amaze you.
The 12 healthiest foods in the world, according to science
The idea behind Dr. Jennifer Di Noia‘s study was simple: to identify “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” (PVF). These are, in fact, fruits and vegetables with high nutritional value, i.e., those that provide the body with good nutrients, protecting it from cardiovascular disease, for example. To classify them, the professor measured the quantities of 17 essential nutrients: fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin A, etc. And this is a first in the field, the professor being a pioneer in nutrient quantification, all with the aim of providing “measurable tools for nutritional education and diet advice.” This laudable objective has enabled us to identify foods providing “on average per 100g, at least 10% of the recommended daily allowance of nutrients, minerals, and trace elements essential for good health”. Following this logic, “the best-ranked foods provide more nutrients per calorie,” explains Dr. Di Noia, “the scores obtained can then help consumers focus on their daily energy needs and on the best way to get the maximum nutrients from their food”.
This ranking system resulted in the emergence of 12 big winners, out of a total of 47 foods tested:
- Watercress (100%)
- Chinese cabbage (92%)
- Swiss chard (89%)
- Beet leaf (87%)
- Spinach (86%)
- Endive (73%)
- Lettuce (71%)
- Parsley (65%)
- Romaine lettuce (63%)
- Collards (62%)
- Green turnip (62%)
- Brown mustard (61%)
Nutrient concentration in percent per 100g.
The result? Watercress is the only food to provide at least 10% of the daily nutrient intake per 100 grams ingested, even supplying 49% of the recommended intake of beta-carotene, and 316% of the recommended intake of vitamin K1, for example. As for the others, their high percentage of intake is more than relevant for optimizing one’s diet, despite the fact that most of them are overlooked. Ultimately, this study has a twofold benefit: it sets the record straight in terms of good dietary practice, and it revives the popularity of these forgotten products, which are nonetheless considered to be the healthiest in the world, for this summer’s salad recipes!
Translated by Jack Pownall.
This article was originally published on Vogue France.