The healthiest vegetable you probably didn't know about

Green and leafy veggies lead in plant-based diets, yet not all are equal. Discover the "world's healthiest vegetable."

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

You're likely aware that incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet is essential for maintaining good health. But have you ever wondered if some vegetables are superior to others in terms of nutritional value?

A study originally published in the journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 is once again grabbing headlines worldwide. This study has singled out one vegetable as the undisputed "healthiest food in the world:" Watercress.

In this study, scientists meticulously evaluated each fruit and vegetable based on their content of essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.

Couscous with watermelon, watercress and feta (credit: Courtesy)
Couscous with watermelon, watercress and feta (credit: Courtesy)

The Remarkable Health Benefits of Watercress

Watercress boasts two key nutrients: vitamin C and vitamin K.

These nutrients are abundant in this leafy green and offer a wide array of health benefits.

Vitamin C is renowned for its role in supporting the immune system, but it also contributes to collagen production, aids in iron absorption, facilitates protein metabolism, and acts as an antioxidant defender. While most individuals meet their daily vitamin C requirements, incorporating watercress into your diet can be an excellent way to ensure you're getting plenty of this beneficial vitamin.

On the other hand, vitamin K, a lesser-known nutrient, plays several critical roles in the body, including its involvement in blood clotting and bone health. This nutrient is most prevalent in leafy greens, and watercress happens to be an outstanding source of vitamin K.

Interestingly, the study also ranked other vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, parsley, pumpkin, and romaine lettuce, quite high. When it comes to fruits, the healthiest options included red pepper, pumpkin, tomato, lemon, and strawberry.

Study author Jennifer DiNoia, a sociology professor at William Paterson University, explained that fruits and vegetables are strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain types of cancers.

She noted that her rankings could assist consumers in better understanding their daily nutritional requirements and how to maximize nutrient intake through their food choices.