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The most nutritional vegetables

KaleLong-time readers will recall that when I reviewed Gardening for Maximum Nutrition, I was a bit dubious of the author's methodology in determining the most nutritious vegetables. I was much more impressed by the Tennessee Extension Service document entitled "Gardening for Nutrition" that Mom gave me for my birthday, and I was also pleasantly surprised to see that many of our own favorite vegetables received top billing therein. Based on 100-gram samples, the top vegetables for providing vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium were (in order of descending quality):

  1. Kale (our winter staple, and an overall best vegetable since it ranks among the top four vegetables for all five nutrients measured)
  2. Spinach (tops the charts for potassium)
  3. Mustard
  4. Turnip greens (top the charts for calcium)
  5. Broccoli (our fall and spring staple that's high in vitamin C and in the top 15 for all five nutrients)
  6. Butternut squash (so I'm not the only one who thinks this is the best winter squash! An excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium)
  7. Lima beans (top the charts for iron, but the nutrient is in a form not readily absorbed by the human body, so take that with a grain of salt)
  8. Hot peppers (top the charts for vitamin C, but how many can you really eat? (No, don't answer that, Joey.))
  9. Leaf lettuce (faring dramatically better than head lettuce, it's a particularly good source of iron and calcium)
  10. Okra
  11. English peas
  12. Snow peas
  13. Cauliflower (interesting --- I don't grow cauliflower because its whiteness always made me think it wasn't as good for me. And I guess it does trail its cousin broccoli by a pretty wide margin.)
  14. Collards (my least favorite leafy green. Coincidence?)
  15. Southern peas
  16. Asparagus
  17. Carrots (top the charts for most vitamin A per pound)
  18. Acorn squash
  19. Pumpkin (see why we grow butternuts instead?)
  20. Chinese cabbage
  21. Sweet potatoes
  22. Cabbage
  23. Snap beans
  24. Sweet peppers (after hot peppers, sweet peppers top the charts for most vitamin C per pound)
  25. Kohlrabi
  26. Cantaloupe (I guess the study's authors went by family for their "vegetables" and included cantaloupes because they're cucurbits?)
  27. Hubbard squash
  28. Irish potatoes
  29. Beets
  30. Tomatoes
  31. Eggplant
  32. Zucchini
  33. Crookneck squash
  34. Radish
  35. Turnip roots
  36. Scallop squash
  37. Head lettuce
  38. Corn
  39. Onions
  40. Watermelon
  41. Cucumbers

So now you know what you should be growing (and training your family to eat) if you want to live long and prosper! Plant some kale!



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Rating veggies for nutritional content is like rating wood screws for flavor. As this site http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2 shows, kale, your #1, is very good for A & C, but almost useless (<10% of MDR) for everything else. Hunt around that site (or any other that you prefer) and compare any veggie to beef: you'll see there's no comparison. One should eat veggies only as a source of carbs, as a minor source of supplements to meat and for their esoteric appeal. Beef should be what's for dinner.
Comment by doc Thu Dec 25 05:35:31 2014