The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a list of 41 powerhouse fruits and vegetables. Their list includes plant foods that are strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
According to the CDC, a whopping 75 percent of our healthcare dollars are spent treating chronic disease. While chronic diseases are the most common and costly of all health problems, they are also the most preventable.
The Top 10 Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables
Jennifer Di Noia of William Paterson University developed a way to analyze and categorize 17 common nutrients in raw fruits and vegetables. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Institute of Medicine, these 17 nutrients are critical to the prevention of chronic disease - and our top 10 vegetables are highest in these nutrients.
This list includes minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc. Vitamins also made the lineup.
Di Noia measured amounts of
- Thiamin (or vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (or vitamin B2)
- Niacin (or vitamin B3)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Of the Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables, raw cruciferous veggies and leafy greens made the top of the list. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, alliums, citrus and berries were concentrated in the bottom half of the list.
According to the CDC and Di Noia's research, the top 10 Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables are:
- Chinese cabbage
- Beet greens
- Leaf lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- Collard greens
The Benefits of Cultured Powerhouse Vegetables
We are not surprised that cruciferous vegetables ranked high on the list of Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables. While cruciferous vegetables are rich in the 17 nutrients that the CDC uses to define a powerhouse vegetable, they also contain other plant chemicals-such as glucosinolates, polyphenolsand plant flavonoids, which have been shown to safeguard against cancer.
Raw cruciferous vegetables also support gut health.Research shows that by simply consuming a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage, you can change the type of bacteria living in your gut.
For those who suffer from digestive issues, raw cruciferous vegetables, (which are high in fiber and phytonutrients that feed gut bacteria), may make symptoms of leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) worse. To make cruciferous vegetables easier to digest, we recommend fermenting them with a culture starter.
Cultured cruciferous vegetables are not only easier to digest (because they are pre-digested by probiotic bacteria), they are also higher in antioxidants, vitamin C and B vitamins - all of which are byproducts of the fermentation process. In other words: You'll find more antioxidants, vitamin C, and B vitamins in a side of sauerkraut than you will in a side of sliced cabbage!
Why Berries Didn't Make the List
Berries, including raspberries, cranberries, and blueberries, didn't make the CDC's list of Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables. As researcher Di Noia explains, “Had I been able to incorporate phytochemical data, these items may have made the list. I think this is an important direction for future research.”
Other studies also tell us that phytochemicals may lower our risk of developing heart disease and some forms of dementia.
What does all this mean? The more you include these fruits and veggies in your daily diet, the healthier you'll be!