Looking to pack the most possible nutrients into your daily salad? Fortunately, lots of health and wellness experts have offered their takes on the hottest powerhouse greens over the past decade, but not everyone agrees.
In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wanted to see which natural foods offered the most nutrition density. To do this, they compared and ranked 47 different fruits and vegetables. These “Powerhouse” foods are strongly associated with reduced risk of chronic disease. Also, many offer 10% or more of the daily recommended value of several nutrients.
A whopping 18 different lettuces/greens made the powerhouse list.
Watercress (Nutrition Density Score: 100)—this dark, leafy green offers a peppery flavor profile to your salad bowl. It’s rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, calcium and other nutrients.
Chinese cabbage (NDS: 91.99)—also known as Bok choy. This mild and crisp cruciferous cabbage is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can help fight inflammation and promote heart health.
Chard (NDS: 89.27)—Swiss chard is mild and sweet, packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Chard is good for heart health, brain health, bone health and more.
Beet greens (NDS: 87.08)—another mild, slightly sweet choice. These greens can boost immunity, bone health, eye health and more. They have an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
Spinach (NDS: 86.43)—spinach is still the powerhouse Popeye depended on. It is a great source of iron, vitamins C and E, potassium and magnesium. Spinach can support immunity and digestion and reduce inflammation.
Chicory (NDS: 73.36)—the entire chicory plant (seeds, roots, flowers and leaves) have long been used medicinally. Rich in vitamins and minerals, chicory also has anti-inflammatory, digestive, probiotic and antibacterial properties.
Leaf lettuce (NDS: 70.73)—leaf lettuce can be red or green and lends a mild base for salads. It has lots of vitamins A, K, and C along with iron and other minerals.
Parsley (NDS: 65.59)—go beyond the spice jar and add some fresh parsley to your salad. A single tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley provides more than 70 percent of your recommended vitamin K. It’s also a good source of vitamin A and flavonoids.
Romaine lettuce (NDS: 63.48)—this crunchy salad staple is mild in flavor and high in nutrition. Romaine supplies vitamins C and K, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium.
Finally, Collard greens (NDS: 62.49)—rich in vitamins K and C and calcium. Collard greens are a member of the cruciferous family. Unfortunately, a lot of folks have trouble eating them raw due to chemicals that may interfere with thyroid function. Try steaming, boiling, or sautéing them with a little garlic, oil and lemon juice, especially if you have a thyroid condition.
To access the power in these greens, you’ve got to eat them. So, it’s time to break out that salad spinner stuck in the back of your cabinet. Then hit the grocery store and pick out a couple of new salad greens. Finally, add some powerhouse veggies like bell pepper, tomato, scallions, strawberries, radishes or orange slices to introduce some added flavor, nutrients and textures to your meals.
February 13, 2023