A recent CDC study developed a Nutrient Density Score system to quantify powerhouse fruits and vegetables most strongly associated with reducing the risk of chronic disease based on 17 nutrients with public health importance per the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Institute of Medicine.

The 17 nutrients of public health importance are: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.

Of 47 foods studied, nutrient density scores ranged from 10.47 to 122.68. For ease of interpretation, scores above 100 were capped at 100 (indicating that the food provides, on average, 100% DV of the qualifying nutrients per 100 kcal). 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 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.

Here are the top 5 with a Nutrient Density Score greater than 75:

  1. Watercress———–100
  2. Chinese Cabbage—-91.99
  3. Chard—————–89.27
  4. Beet greens————87.08
  5. Spinach—————86.43
  • Never toss out the tops of the beets—cut off the greens and steam them!
  • Watercress is the new kale.
  • “I’m strong to the finich Cause I eats me spinach I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.”

For diet secrets and healthy recipes (including the top 5) don’t forget to check out my book: Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secret Of The Super-Healthy.