Breaking out of your vegetable rut may be the smartest way to reduce your risk of chronic disease, according to new research from the CDC. They analyzed and ranked 47 different types of produce known to reduce chronic disease, giving the ones with the most nutrients per calorie top billing as “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables. Meet the winners’ circle:
Watercress, 4 calories per cup
Each serving of the salad-ready succulent delivers a quarter of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A and vitamin C, and 1 gram of protein.
Chinese cabbage, 9 calories per cup
Also known as bok choy, it’s an all-around goodie, with plenty of iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin c, protein, fiber, and a couple carbs to power you up.
Chard, 7 calories per cup
Each serving of the ribbed green has 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and vitamins A, E, and K—pair with a little healthy fat (avocadoes, almonds, olives, etc.) to get the most from those fat-soluble vitamins.
Beet greens, 8 calories per cup
One cup of the root toppers contain about 5% of the iron and calcium you need for the day, and a little power, too, with 2 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 1 gram of protein.
Spinach, 7 calories per cup
Classic spinach leaves have more than half your daily vitamin A and is also a good source of fiber and key minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper.
Chicory greens, 7 calories per cup
A serving of this herbaceous green provides a third of your daily vitamin A needs, as well as a gram of fiber and key B vitamins like riboflavin, B6, folate, and pantothenic acid.
Leaf lettuce, 1 calorie per cup
This salad-and-sandwich standby has trace amounts of vitamins A, C, K, and the B vitamins—but only a single calorie.
Parsley, 22 calories per cup
Each cup of the herb packs in two grams of protein and fiber, all the vitamin A and C you need in a day, and almost a quarter of the iron.
Romaine lettuce, 1 calorie per cup
Cup for cup, the dark salad favorite edges regular lettuce in terms of vitamin A content and has a much higher mineral content, with phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Collard greens, 11 calories per cup
This southern green is high in calcium, vitamin C, A, E, K, and B, and does pretty well for itself in terms of protein and fiber, with 1 gram of each.
Though you should absolutely turn to the top 10 as garnishes, side dishes, and for sandwich and salad fare, it would be a tough task to eat 100 calories’ worth of these high-nutrient, low-calorie foods if you tried. Plus, the low-calorie requirement gave leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables an unfair edge over, say, the equally nutritious but more substantial root vegetables, explains Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, a nutrition coach based in Burlington, Vermont. Long story short? Eat your vegetables. All of them.