Nutrition science tells us again and again to eat more dark green leafy vegetables, so we reach for what we know. But a recent ranking of 47 ultra-healthful produce items reveals some surprising front-runners you may not have tried yet.
The 2014 study, published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, ranks the fruits and vegetables by their concentration of 17 key nutrients: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E and K.
The top of the list includes some familiar favorites, like spinach (#5) and kale (#15), as well as a few veggies that might seem exotic, but are actually widely available.
The next time you’re feeling adventurous, look for these three “powerhouse foods” in your produce section:
This is the blue ribbon super-green that ranked as the most nutrient-dense food among the 47 samples tested. It contains a wealth of fiber and vitamins and because it’s a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and radishes, it also contains special compounds called glucosinolates that can prevent cancer.
If you pick some up at the market today, get ready for a peppery punch! The small, delicate leaves of the watercress plant may look unassuming, but they deliver a strong and sometimes spicy flavor. Try mixing the chopped fresh leaves into a green salad with a sweet vinaigrette to offset the slight bitterness of this verdant veggie.
This category of leafy vegetables, which ranked 6th among the Powerhouse Foods, includes a few varieties you may never have tried before, like radicchio, escarole and leaf chicory. A single, raw cup of these greens provides more than a day’s worth of vitamin K and a third of your recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
Your grocery store might not have every variety, but any one of them will deliver amazing nutrition and unique flavors. Try curly-cue escarole in a crisp salad with Dijon dressing or vibrant cranberry-colored heads of radicchio, roasted and drizzled with balsamic reduction.
3. Turnip Greens
Do you eat turnip roots? Stop composting those greens! Turnip greens ranked 11th on the list of most nutrient-dense Powerhouse Foods—four places higher than beloved kale. The roots also made the list at #37, so you get a lot of superfood for your dollar when you buy a bunch.
Since turnip leaves wilt quickly when they’re attached to the root, snip them off and store them separately when you get home from the market. Then cook up a side-dish with Southern flair by stewing chopped turnip greens low and slow, with a little plant-based bacon to top them off at the table.
Remember: Any and all greens you enjoy eating deliver terrific nutritional benefits, so don’t skimp on your usual leafy fare. Instead, savor something new. Bon appétit!
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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