Kale chips, smoothies, salads and even cold-pressed kale juice- the stuff is everywhere. If you happen to have acquired a taste for it I can almost say I envy you. For the rest of us I have good news: Kale no longer reigns as the pinnacle of superfoods.
Kale still counts as a superfood and it’s great for you if you can eat it. The things is, with all of the hype out there, it’s easy to forget that there are a lot of things nutritionally better than kale. Many of them taste better, too.
This list draws from the results of a recent study done by the CDC. The study took foods that were known to be very dense in nutrients and then looked at how much of that nutrition any of us can actually absorb when we eat those foods.
It turns out that human digestion was not meant to make use of several incredibly nutrient dense foods. However, these are 8 foods you can get maximum nutrition from. (FYI kale was #15)
1. Watercress – Score 100 (Perfect)
The true top of the new green superfood pyramid? Watercress.
One cup of watercress has more than double your daily dose of vitamin K. It is also a good source of: Vitamin A (over 60%), Vitamin C (over 70%), vitamins B1, B2, B6, E. Also has 10% or more of calcium, potassium, manganese, and many essential amino acids. 2 grams of protein and 8 calories.
2. Chinese Cabbage – Score 91.99
Sweet and mild yet this stir fry staple is the second best green you can eat.
One cup of raw Chinese Cabbage yields over 40% of you daily value of Vitamin C, over 25% of Vitamin A and is also a great source of: Vitamin B1, B2 and B6, Calcium and Folate. 2 grams of protein and 30 calories.
3. Chard – Score 89.27
Whether it’s the classic green and white or a rainbow chard is packed with nutrients you can’t find in kale.
Each cup of raw chard is a great source of Vitamin A (120%), Vitamin B2, B6, C (50%), E, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Manganese. 2 grams of protein and 19 calories per cup.
4. Beet Greens – Score 87.08
These greens are perfect for anyone who doesn’t care for bitterness. Surprisingly sweet, especially when cooked. Even more mild than spinach or chard.
One cup of raw beet greens will provide Vitamin K (100%+), C (30%), and A (40%). Also a good source of B1 and B2, Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, and Copper. 4 grams of protein and 56 calories per cup.
5. Spinach – Score 86.43
Classic, simple spinach. Deep green leaves with mild flavor that come in a variety of sizes and textures.
A good source of Vitamin A (188%), Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B9 (Folate 49%), C (47%), E (10%), K (604%), Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, and various essential and nonessential Amino Acids. Each cup of raw spinach contains 3 grams of protein and 23 calories.
6. Chicory – Score 73.36
Chicory leaves are similar in flavor to radish and turnip tops, a little spicy or peppery. They can be a little bitter in a salad but pair well with an acidic dressing. They mellow out a lot when cooked.
Each cup of raw chicory leaves is a good source of Fiber (16%), Vitamin A (114%), B2, B5 (12%), B9 (Folate 28%), Vitamin C (40%), K (370%), Calcium, Copper, Lutein, Potassium and Manganese. It has 23 calories and 1.5 grams of protein per cup.
7. Leaf Lettuce – 70.73
Leaf lettuce is everywhere and it’s a little surprising to find it so high up on the list. This lettuce comes in several styles and colors. It has a fresh, crisp taste and is found in just about every restaurant or grocery store.
Each cup of raw leaf lettuce is a good source of Vitamin A (140%), B1, B2, B6, Vitamin C (15%), Vitamin K (150%), Potassium and Manganese. It has 15 calories and 1.4 grams of protein per cup.
8. Parsley – 65.59
Once reserved for garnishes, fresh parsley can be used to enhance a variety of dishes. Flat leaf varieties are great as a seasoning while curled parsley can make a salad look a lot more interesting.
Each cup of raw parsley is a great source of Fiber (13%), Vitamin A (168%), B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 (Folate 38%), C (220%), K (2000%+), Calcium, Iron (34%), Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese,