40 most nutritious fruits and vegetables, according to experts
While it’s common knowledge that eating fruits and vegetables is good for one’s health, adding them into daily diets can be more challenging. Only one in 10 adults in the U.S. met the recommended intake allowance of 2 to 3 cups per day for fruits and vegetables, with consumption even lower among men and young adults, according to a 2017 government health report.
Getting enough fruits and greens isn’t just about keeping one’s weight down or that daily dose of vitamins: Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, which are naturally occurring chemicals in plants that contribute to the plant’s health. When consumed, those phytonutrients also contribute to human health. Phytonutrients work as antioxidants, which help with immunity, repair DNA damage, and detoxify carcinogens. A phytonutrient-rich diet may lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
In a 2015 study of global food and nutritional data, researchers calculated each food’s nutritional fitness via factors such as nutrient-density, protein levels, and calorie content. Nutritional fitness gauges food quality based on its overall nutritional balance and composition. Raw foods were researched first, followed by minimally altered frozen or dried products. For recommended daily allowances of nutrients, researchers referred to the Dietary Reference Intakes from the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies, which calculates daily nutrients required for adequate health and energy levels.
Stacker created a comprehensive list of the 40 most nutritious fruits and vegetables available, ranked by nutritional fitness scores, with the highest score being 1.00. Ties in nutritional fitness were broken by price per 100 grams (approximately 3.5 ounces), with lower-priced foods being ranked higher; meat, fish, and other animal products were excluded from the list.