When buying food at the grocery, get more bang for your buck by focusing on the most nutrient-dense produce. But first, you need to know which delicious and nutritious ingredients to use in your daily meals.
The list includes the top vegetables and fruits with at least 10 percent or more of 17 different nutrients, explained Amy Sapola, a functional medicine expert and Director of Farmacy at The Chef's Garden in Huron, Ohio.
Humble watercress took the number one spot. Watercress is full of vitamins B9, C and K, along with folate. Meanwhile, beet greens are full of vitamins A and C.
Sapola said beet greens, which are usually cut off and thrown away, actually have more minerals than the beetroots. She added that romaine's score of 63.48 is rather surprising since she doesn't generally consider it "as overly high [in nutrients]."
Surprisingly, strawberries and limes ranked high, but blueberries, a favorite among many health enthusiasts, didn't even make the cut. Sapola said that this is because the CDC's list doesn't consider phytonutrients and that it only factored in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
Just because your favorite fruit or vegetable didn't make the list, it doesn't mean that they are not healthy. Remember that eating more greens is always good for you, regardless of their exact nutrient score, because each plant delivers a wonderfully unique array of macro-, micro- and phytonutrients. (Related: Nutrient-dense acai berries: The ultimate superfood for optimal health.)
If you're looking for a more convenient way to boost your nutrient intake, try using a high-quality greens powder made with a blend of organic vegetables like leafy greens, root vegetables and sea vegetables, along with organic berries, organic herbs and prebiotic fiber.
Follow a balanced diet and incorporate a variety of different fruits and vegetables, even those that didn't make the CDC's powerhouse list, as long as they are accessible to you.
2 Cups small broccoli florets or about 1 large crown
1 Cup snow peas, halved
3 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 Teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
1 Teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 Teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 Red bell pepper, sliced
1 Bunch scallions, thinly sliced
4 Cloves garlic, minced
Combine two tablespoons of sesame oil, soy sauce and crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken, toss to coat, then set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the lo mein noodles in the boiling water according to the package directions.
Drain the noodles, then transfer them to a large bowl. Toss the cooked noodles with the remaining two teaspoons of sesame oil and chili-garlic sauce. Set aside.
Heat one tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook until juices are released and the mushrooms are golden and tender for about four to five minutes.
Stir in the garlic, ginger and scallions into the skillet with the mushrooms. Cook until fragrant or one minute. Transfer the mushrooms to a medium bowl.
Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the broccoli, bell pepper and snow peas. Cook the vegetables until tender and crisp or for two to three minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook until wilted or two minutes. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the mushroom mixture.
Heat the remaining one tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the reserved chicken and leave the sauce in the bowl. Saute the chicken until cooked through for two to three minutes.
Add the chicken broth and cornstarch to the reserved sauce and whisk to combine. Add the sauce to the pan with the chicken, then simmer until thickened for one to two minutes.
Add the vegetable mixture to the pan and toss to combine. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to the bowl with the noodles, then toss again to combine before serving.