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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
August 13, 2014

Watercress Is the Winner

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;312(6):590. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.9316

From mothers’ admonitions to Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden, messages to eat fruits and vegetables are ubiquitous. But which picks from the produce aisle pack the biggest nutritional punch?

To answer that question, Jennifer Di Noia, PhD, of William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, developed a method to define “powerhouse fruits and vegetables”—those most strongly linked with reduced chronic disease risk.

Based on the scientific literature, Di Noia listed 47 foods with the highest content of 17 nutrients endorsed by the Institute of Medicine and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as important for disease prevention and good health: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. The list included green leafy, yellow/orange, and cruciferous vegetables; berries and citrus fruits; and alliums such as onions, garlic, scallions, and leeks. Di Noia calculated how many calories and amounts of the 17 nutrients were contained per 100 g of each food in raw form.

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