The 41 Healthiest Superfoods, Ranked

Leafy superfoods on plate
Trinette Reed / Getty Images

Beware the label “superfood”: It’s slapped on everything from chia seeds to cauliflower. But what does it mean? When even such a low-bar base camp as Wikipedia calls superfood “a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits,” you know skepticism is in order. 

But now scientists at William Paterson University have come up with a sensible superfood-esque rating system, testing the levels of 17 disease-fighting nutrients (including fiber, potassium, iron, and B vitamins) in produce and ranking the top 41 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.” 

The results were shocking. 

On the new list, former underdog watercress (#1) thrashed supposed superfood champ kale (#15). Meanwhile, beet greens (#4) beat down brussels sprouts (#21), parsley (#8) laid a pile drive on sweet potato (#40), and turnip greens (#11) smashed rutabaga (#36) into the turnbuckle. Even blackberries (#38) got body-slammed by strawberries (#30) and pink grapefruit (#35). 

Your strategy: Go for variety. “Don’t focus on just one or two foods on the list,” says the study’s Jennifer Di Noia, Ph.D. “For chronic disease prevention, all of them should be encouraged, as well as other plant foods, such as whole grains and beans.” 

Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: The Rankings

  1. Watercress
  2. Chinese cabbage
  3. Chard
  4. Beet green
  5. Spinach
  6. Chicory
  7. Leaf lettuce
  8. Parsley
  9. Romaine lettuce
  10. Collard green
  11. Turnip green
  12. Mustard green
  13. Endive
  14. Chive
  15. Kale
  16. Dandelion green
  17. Red pepper
  18. Arugula
  19. Broccoli
  20. Pumpkin
  21. Brussels sprout
  22. Scallion
  23. Kohlrabi
  24. Cauliflower
  25. Cabbage
  26. Carrot
  27. Tomato
  28. Lemon
  29. Iceberg lettuce
  30. Strawberry
  31. Radish
  32. Winter squash (all varieties)
  33. Orange
  34. Lime
  35. Grapefruit (pink and red)
  36. Rutabaga
  37. Turnip
  38. Blackberry
  39. Leek
  40. Sweet potato
  41. Grapefruit (white) 

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