Serving size: 1 cup
Amount (mg): 156.6
Leafy green vegetables like the spinach, with its delicate texture and jade green color, provide more nutrients than any other green food! Although the spinach is available year around, its best season runs from March through May and from September through October.
The Spinach belongs to the same family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) as Swiss chard and beets.Its scientific name is Spinacia oleracea. It shares a similar taste profile with these 2 other vegetables, having the bitterness of beet greens, and the slightly salty flavor of Swiss chard.
There are 3 different types of spinach generally available:
1.Savoy has crisp, creased curly leaves that have a springy texture,
Semi-savoy is similar in texture to savoy,yetit’s not as crinkled in appearance.
The baby spinach is great for use in salads owing to its taste and delicate texture, and
Smooth-leaf has flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped leaves.
The spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, folate, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. It’s a very good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein, and choline.
Additionally, the spinach is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, pantothenic acid, and selenium.
While this mixture of conventional nutrients gives the spinach a unique place in the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory regard, it’s the unusual mixture of phytonutrients in spinach that “seals the deal” in terms of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components.
In terms of flavonoids, the spinach is a unique source of methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides, and in terms of carotenoids, it’s difficult to find a more helpful source of lutein and zeaxanthin. The epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids neoxanthin and violaxanthin are also excellent constituents of spinach leaves.
2. Swiss chard
Serving size: 1 cup
Amount (mg): 150.5
Nutrient density: 19.4
The chard is a tall leafy green vegetable commonly referred to as the Swiss chard.Scientifically, it’s known as Beta vulgaris.
The chard belongs to the same family as beets and spinach and shares a similar taste profile with a flavor that is bitter, pungent, and slightly salty.
The Swiss chard is truly one of the vegetable “valedictorians” with its exceptionally impressive list of health-promoting nutrients. Although the Swiss chard is available year around, its peak season runs from June through August.
The Swiss chard—along with kale, mustard greens and collard greens—is one of several leafy green vegetables often referred to as “greens”. It is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in white, red or yellow with wide fan-like green leaves.
The chard has a thick, crunchy stalk to which fan-like wide green leaves are attached. The leaves may be either smooth or curly, depending on the variety, and feature lighter-colored ribs running throughout. The stalk, which can measure almost 2 feet in length, comes in a variety of colors including white, red, yellow and orange. In the green market, different colored varieties may be bunched together and labeled “therainbow chard.”
The Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin E, and iron. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, choline, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and protein. The Swiss chard is also a good source of pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, folate, and selenium.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Serving size: 0.25 cup
Amount (mg): 190.92
Like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, and squash, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds belong to the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family. Within this family, the genus Cucurbita contains all of the pumpkins (and their seeds). The most common species of pumpkin used as a source of pumpkin seeds are Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita mixta.
Pumpkin seeds—also known as pepitas—are flat, dark green seeds. Some are encased in a yellow-white husk (often called the “shell”), although some varieties of pumpkins produce seeds without shells. Pumpkin seeds have a malleable, chewy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor.
While roasted pumpkins seeds are probably best known for their role as a perennial Halloween treat, these seeds are so delicious and nutritious that they can be enjoyed throughout the year!
Pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including: the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic, syringic acid, and the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol.
Pumpkins seeds also contain health-supportive phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, sitostanol, and avenasterol. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc and iron. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein.
4. Sesame seeds
Serving size: 0.25cup
Amount (mg): 126.36
The scientific name for sesame seeds is Sesamun indicum. Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible crunch. They come in a host of different hues, depending upon the variety, including white, yellow, black and red.
Sesame seeds are highly valued for their high content of sesame oil that is very resistant to rancidity. Sesame seeds are the main ingredients in both tahini and the Middle Eastern sweet treat, halvah. “Open sesame!”—the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights—reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity.
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, vitamin B1, selenium, and dietary fiber.
5. Sunflower seeds
Serving size: 0.25cup
Amount (mg): 113.75
Sunflower seeds are the gift of the beautiful sunflower, a plant with rays of petals emanating from its bright yellow, seed-studded center. The sunflower’s Latin scientific name, Helianthus annuus, reflects its solar appearance.
The sunflower produces grayish-green or black seeds encased in tear-dropped shaped gray or black shells that oftentimes feature black and white stripes. Since these seeds have very high oil content, they are one of the main sources used to produce polyunsaturated oil.
Shelled sunflower seeds have a mild nutty taste and firm, but tender texture. Their taste is oftentimes compared with the Jerusalem artichoke (not to be confused with the bulb artichoke), another member of the Helianthus family.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E and a very good source of copper and vitamin B1. In addition, sunflower seeds are a good source of manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin.
Serving size: 0.75cup
Amount (mg): 118.4
Researchers date the popularity of the quinoa to approximately 3,000 BC, when its consumption became widespread in the Andes mountains regions of South America. About 250 different varieties of quinoa were already present at the time, giving quinoa a remarkable tolerance for different growing conditions.
The quinoa is able to survive high altitudes, thin and cold air, hot sun, salty or sandy soil, little rainfall, and sub-freezing temperatures. In addition, all parts of the quinoaplant could be eaten, including not only the seeds that we buy in stores and green markets, and that may also have been dried and ground into flour, but also the leaves and stems.
Betacyanin pigmentspresent in some quinoa leaves give them their bright reddish color, but it’s also possible to find orange, pink, purple, tan, and black quinoa as well.
Quinoa leaves taste similar in flavor to the leaves of their fellow chenopods, namely, spinach, chard, and beets. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet also slightly crunchy. They may also sometimes have an amazing translucent appearance. The flavor of the cooked seeds is delicate and somewhat nutty.
The quinoa is food of high protein quality and is typically regarded as an adequate source of all essential amino acids, including lysine and isoleucine. It provides a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including ferulic, coumaric, hydroxybenzoic, and vanillic acid.
Antioxidant flavonoids including quercetin and kaempferol are also especially plentiful in the quinoa. Anti-inflammatory polysaccharides in the quinoa include arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans. Many members of the vitamin E tocopherol family are provided by the quinoa, including important amounts of gamma-tocopherol. The quinoa is a very good source of manganese. It is also a good source of phosphorus, copper, magnesium, dietary fiber, folate, and zinc.
Serving size: 1 cup
Amount (mg): 147.92
While not the most widely cultivated of all beans (that distinction goes to Phaseolus vulgaris, aka “common bean”), soybeans are a traditional part of diets in China, Japan and Korea.
At present, the U.S.alone plants and produces more soybeans than any other country in the world—approximately 83 million metric tons grown on 75 million acres of land! However, nearly 99% of all soybeans grown in the U.S. are processed for production of soil meal (to be used in animal feed) and soy oil.
Other whole food forms of soy include full fat soy milk, tofu, natto, and miso. Processed forms of soy such soybean oil, defatted soy flour and soy protein concentrates such as TVP (texturized soy protein and SPI (soy protein isolate) abound.
Soybeans are perhaps best known for their fantastic blend of protein and fiber. But soybeans are also an excellent source of molybdenum and copper. They are a very good source of manganese, phosphorus, and protein as well as a good source of iron, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, vitamin B2, magnesium, vitamin K, and potassium. There are also a wide range of unique proteins, peptides, and phytonutrients contained in soy.
These nutrients include flavonoids and isoflavonoids (daidzein,genistein, malonylgenistin, and malonyldaidzin); phenolic acids (caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, gallic and sinapic acids); phytoalexins (glyceollin I, glyceollin II, and glyceollin III); phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, beta-stigmasterol, campestrol); unique proteins and peptides (defensins, glycinin, conglycinin, and lunacin); and saponins (soyasaponins from group A and group B, and soyasapogenols).
8. Black beans
Serving size: 1cup
Amount (mg): 120.4
Black beans could not be more succinctly and descriptively named. They are commonly referred to as turtle beans, probably in reference to their shiny, dark, shell-like appearance.
With a rich flavor that has been compared to mushrooms, black beans have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking.
Black beans are actually a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and belong to the popular legume family of plants. Black beans share many characteristics with their fellow bean family members, including red (kidney) beans, white (navy) beans, yellow beans, pinto (mottled) beans, pink beans, and anasazi beans.
The seed coat (outermost surface) of black beans is an outstanding source of 3 anthocyanin flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. Kaempferol and quercetin are additional flavonoids provided by this legume. Also contained in black beans are hydroxycinnamic acids including ferulic, sinapic, and chlorogenic acid, as well as numerous triterpenoid phytonutrients. Black beans also provide about 180 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per cup in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Black beans emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of molybdenum. In addition, they are a very good source of folate and dietary fiber. Our food ranking system also qualified black beans as a good source of copper, manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorus, protein, magnesium, and iron. In the case of protein, for instance, a one cup serving of cooked black beans provided about 1/3 of a day’s protein requirement.
9. Navy beans
Serving size: 1cup
Amount (mg): 96.46
Navy beans are small, pea-sized beans that are creamy white in color. They are “fiber all-star” beans that are dense and smooth.
Like other common beans, navy beans are one of 13,000 species of the family of legumes, or plants that produce edible pods.
Combined with whole grains such as rice, navy beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.
Navy beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and a very good source of both folate and manganese. They are also a good source of many minerals including: copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
In addition, navy beans are a good source of protein and vitamin B1.
Serving size: 0.25cup
Amount (mg): 116.8
Cashews, scientifically known as Anacardium occidentale, belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio nut.
Cashew nuts are actually seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, which is native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil. Cashew apples, while not known in the U.S., are regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean. The seed we know as the kidney-shaped cashew “nut” is delicate in flavor and firm, but slightly spongy, in texture.
You have probably noticed that cashews in the shell are not available in stores and markets. This is because these nuts are always sold pre-shelled since the interior of their shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before they are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.
Cashews are an excellent source of copper, and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
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