Not to be confused with the buzzword ‘superfood,’ powerhouse fruits and vegetables are those that contain a dense amount of multiple vitamins and minerals that maintain weight and fight off disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has comprised a list of these powerhouse foods containing 17 essential nutrients within a 100 calorie serving. They are also classified by serving size and how well the body absorbs the nutrients.
As mentioned before, there are 17 vitamins and minerals that the CDC considers when classifying powerhouse fruits and vegetables. These nutrients are needed to promote wellness and mental health.
- Potassium – Potassium is a mineral that is needed to transmit nerve impulses, lower blood pressure, and helps muscle contraction. It decreases the risks of both stroke and heart disease.
- Fiber – Fiber is found largely in leafy green vegetables and promotes regularity in bowel movements. It also lowers cholesterol and helps prevent hemorrhoids.
- Protein – One of many needed nutrients for healthy body function, protein serves many purposes. Not only does it help with the production of enzymes and hormones throughout the body, it is also essential for building muscle and repairing damaged tissue.
- Calcium – Well-known for building and maintaining bone strength.
- Iron – A key element for building the immune system. It also is good for the blood.
- Vitamin A – An inflammation reducing nutrient that also helps improve vision.
- Thiamin – Supports energy production and boosts memory.
- Vitamin B6 – Boosts immune system as well as metabolism.
- Riboflavin – Also boosts immunity and metabolism.
- Vitamin B12 – Benefits the brain and nervous system and promotes blood formation.
- Niacin – Aids in the absorption of nutrients by the digestive system.
- Vitamin C – Well-known for boosting the immune system.
- Folate – Has many heart-healthy benefits and also aides in cell-enhancement.
- Vitamin D – Decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Zinc – Helps expedite the healing of wounds and supports the digestive system.
- Vitamin E – Beneficial for people with diabetes by enhancing insulin function and improving blood
- Vitamin K – Prevents osteoporosis and reduces blood clotting.
These essential vitamins and minerals work together to greatly reduce the risks of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. By scientific definition, PFVs are packed with antioxidants that serve to reduce oxidative stress within the body. Oxidants within the body can remove electrons from other substances, thus changing their form. These oxidants damage cells and change the cells into free radicals, which in turn oxidize other molecules. It is a negative domino effect that weakens the immune system and the overall healing process. Antioxidants work to prevent the development of disease.
Top Powerhouse Foods
While the word superfood is nothing more than a trendy catchword that has no scientific merit, powerhouse foods are actually a legitimate classification for ridiculously healthy produce. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that there are at least 41 fruits and vegetables that are classified as powerhouse foods. The top twenty of these produce items are leafy green vegetables.
Taking over most of the top twenty spots on the lists of PFVs, leafy greens are loaded with a myriad of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Greens such as kale, mustard greens, leaf lettuce, collard greens, chard, Chinese cabbage, beet greens, cabbage, dandelion greens, arugula, turnip greens, spinach, and romaine lettuce are full of these nutrients. One serving of kale alone has over 1,300% of the U.S.recommended daily allowance of vitamin k, 354% for vitamin A, and 88% of vitamin c.
Other top twenty powerhouse foods include broccoli, endive, parsley, chives, red bell pepper, chicory, and pumpkin. These foods also offer a plethora of health benefits. 100 calories of Broccoli, for example, contain almost twice as much protein as steak! It also covers almost 150% of vitamin c required for the day. Chicory contains amounts of nearly every essential vitamin and also reduces the risk of heart disease and improves digestion.
Vegetables get a bad rap for being boring and tasteless when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There are endless ways to prepare delicious vegetable dishes that are filled with disease preventing nutrients and support numerous organs, bones, and mental health. These veggies are great for salads, roasting, casseroles, and also are fantastic additions to unhealthier foods like pizza. They can add depth to countless pasta dishes, and make healthier vegetarian alternatives to sandwiches and wraps. This summer, people would be doing their diets and their bodies a delicious flavor, uh – favor, by including these powerhouse fruits and vegetables in their day.