Top 10 Powerhouse Vegetables

Dorian Martin | July 1, 2014

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Researchers have started developing a classification system that rates powerhouse fruits and vegetables. The following types of produce provide 10 percent or more of the daily value of 17  nutrients, from potassium to folate to a wide range of vitamins. Here are the best.

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This cruciferous vegetable has heat and bite. Researchers believe that eating this vegetable daily can significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells, thus lowering the risk of developing cancer. Additionally, watercress helps reduce triglyceride levels in the blood while also significantly increasing the levels of lutein and beta-carotene.

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Chinese cabbage

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There are many types of Chinese cabbage, including Napa cabbage, White Choy Sum, Pak Choy, Pei Tsai, Flower Chinese Cabbage, and Green Baby Pak Choy. Excellent for stir-fry and pickling, these cabbages are a good source of vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as glutamine, which is an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage also is believed to help block the growth of cancer cells.

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Chard leaves are sturdier than spinach and the stems are edible and can be used in vegetable stock. Chard boasts vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, copper, calcium and tryptophan. Chard helps regulate blood sugar and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. This vegetable also provides great support for bone health.

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Beet greens

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Depending on the variety, beet greens are a great source of lutein, zeaxanthin and carotenoid. When buying beets, look for greens that are fresh, tender and a vivid green color. Once home, remove the greens and stems from the beet root to ensure that they don’t pull moisture from the root.  Store unwashed greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Beet greens can be prepared like spinach.

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Fresh spinach provides a significant amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese and folate. This vegetable offers protection against inflammation as well as cancer. It also supports heart health and bone health. There are two types of spinach – flat-leaved and crinkled (savoyed). The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic spinach.

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Often confused with endive, chicories are perennials and include radicchio, sugarloaf, Belgian endive and root chicories. Slightly bitter with sturdy leaves that resemble lettuce, chicories are a good source of thiamin, niacin, zinc, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.

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Leaf lettuce

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There are a variety of types of lettuce, including crisphead (such as iceberg), looseleaf and butterhead. In general, lettuce is a great source of magnesium, chromium, folate, vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. Because varieties of lettuce differ in the types of phytonutrients they have, it’s best to eat a mixture of lettuces in order to receive the most benefit.

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Parsley is high in vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K. The vegetable also is rich in antioxidants and folate. Its nutrients protect heart health and may help prevent some types of arthritis. There are three types – curly, super-curly and flat-leaf; your preference should guide your purchase. Parsley can be used as a garnish, in juices or as the main ingredient in salads such as tabbouleh.

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Romaine lettuce

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Romaine lettuce is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, which helps protect the heart by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol. Romaine lettuce has folic acid, which can protect against heart attack and stroke, and potassium, which helps lower high blood pressure.  This type of lettuce also is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and molybdenum.

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Collard greens

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This vegetable is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, riboflavin, calcium, iron, manganese, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Additionally, collard greens are filled with fiber. This vegetable helps lower cholesterol and protects against cancer. These greens also provide anti-inflammatory benefits and support cardiovascular health.