Which fruit packs the most fibre? Which popular veggie has more potassium than a banana? Which lettuce can strengthen your skeleton? Test your supermarket smarts with this fun produce food label quiz.
Scouring food labels on processed foods like pasta sauce, cereal, and ice cream has become de rigueur during food shopping, but fresh, unpackaged produce doesn’t come with such visibility into calories, fat, fiber, protein, and key vitamins and nutrients.
Of course, nutrition experts would be happy if North Americans ate more of pretty much any fruit or vegetable (only about 32 percent of adults consume recommended levels of fruit and 25 percent recommended levels of veggies, according to government data), but you may be surprised to actually see the nutrition profiles of your favorite produce. Which high-fat fruit can take good care of your ticker? What popular salad topper is shockingly high in sodium?
So we asked Everyday Health dietitians to use their comprehensive nutrition database to create fruit and veggie food labels. Here, test your produce savvy and discover unusual facts about the produce you thought you knew so well.
This high-fat fruit is a healthy, flavourful alternative to condiments like butter or mayonnaise.
It's true: Avocados are high in fat, but it's a super-healthy type! Their monounsaturated fat can help lower cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. Avocados also contain lutein, an antioxidant that strengthens eyesight, and vitamin E, which may lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. Just be sure to watch your portion size or you could overdo it on fat and calories (a whole medium avocado packs 320 calories and 28 grams of fat!).
This water-rich vegetable is a low-cal dipping staple.
Celery, which is 95 per cent water, may not be as nutrient-rich as other produce, but it does contain some healthy compounds, including vitamin A and C, and phthalides, which help lower blood pressure and stress hormones levels. Although celery is also widely touted as a "negative calorie food" -- meaning that eating and digesting it burns more calories than the amount in the stalk -- experts say the amount of the calorie burn is too small to have a meaningful impact on weight loss.
This colourful fruit was once called a 'star berry' because it has a star-shaped crown on top.
Blueberries are the second-most popular berry in the United States (behind strawberries), and contain more antioxidants than almost any other fruit or vegetable, according to the USDA. Anthocyanins, the antioxidants that give this fruit its beautifully rich blue hue, may boost brainpower, fight off disease, and slow down the aging process.
This dried fruit adds a tangy punch to sandwiches, salads, and spreads.
Answer: Sun-Dried Tomato
Yep, tomatoes are technically a fruit, not a vegetable. Best known for their high levels of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes also pack such nutrients as vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium into each bite. But remember that the sun-dried kind are high in sodium, so stick with a small serving.
This fruit is one of the most fibre-rich around.
Pears have more dietary fibre than most other fruits, including apples. One medium-sized pear has up to 6 grams of fibre, about one-quarter of the daily value. Since most of the fruit's fibre is found in its skin, think twice before peeling! More fun facts: There are more than 3,000 varieties of pears grown around the world, and they're technically members of the rose family.
Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, this leafy veggie packs a serious health punch.
Popeye was right to load up on spinach, which is rich in energy-boosting iron, B vitamins, and vitamins A and C. It's an especially good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, providing almost 200 percent of the daily value. Other nutrients in spinach may also protect your immune system and keep your skin and hair healthy.
This green or yellow legume is a main ingredient in a popular hearty soup.
Answer: Split Pea
With 5 grams of fibre per one-third cup serving, split peas are a great source of the cholesterol-lowering nutrient, which can also help promote weight loss and steady blood sugar. People who regularly eat legumes like peas may have a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The most widely eaten vegetable, this root veggie is consumed in one out of every three meals in the United States.
Did you know potatoes provide one of the most concentrated sources of blood pressure-lowering potassium (926 milligrams per one medium potato) -- even more than bananas (422 milligrams per one medium fruit)? Of course potatoes become a lot less healthy when they're slathered with butter and sour cream, but in their natural state, they're fat- and cholesterol-free. To get the most nutrients out of your taters, steam them with the skin on (it's the most nutrient-rich part) instead of peeling and boiling.
This sweet fruit is a popular breakfast cereal topper.
A good source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber, bananas are also tasty mood-boosters. They contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can be converted to the brain chemical serotonin, which lifts your mood and reduces stress. Bonus: Their hardy peels make them perfect grab-and-go snacks.
This bite-sized fruit comes in more than 50 varieties and a rainbow of colours including red, white, purple, green, blue, black, and golden.
Even though the majority of their calories come from sugar, grapes' nutritional pros far outweigh their cons. Studies show that resveratrol, the antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes, limits cancer cell growth. Other polyphenol antioxidants can reduce inflammation linked to several health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.
This veggie is most famous for its sky-high vitamin A levels, which help maintain healthy eyes.
Mom was right: The high amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene in carrots (and other orange veggies like sweet potatoes and pumpkin) do help keep the eye doctor away, but that's far from the only way they boost your health. Adequate intake has also been linked to a lower risk of lung and other cancers, a strong immune system, and even maintaining brain health with age.
You might start a meal with this protein- and fibre-packed legume, often served hot with a sprinkle of salt.
No wonder edamame are a vegetarian diet staple: Research suggests eating such non-processed forms of soy can help reduce the risk of heart disease and breast and prostate cancer. Heat up frozen edamame pods for an easy, pop-in-your-mouth snack when you're in the mood to munch, but make sure to go easy on the salt shaker.
This exotic dried fruit is usually found in the supermarket baking aisle -- not the produce section.
Answer: Dried Coconut
Shredded dried coconut may be great for forming a crust on shrimp or a layer in a German chocolate cake, but it does pack a lot of saturated fat. So stick to the serving size for a sweet indulgence that won't take a toll on your ticker.