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Any knowledge of the most nutritious plants and their variety ?

 
pollinator
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Hello everyone,

I think most people here are aware that the food we buy is getting less and less nutrient rich. And that most people aren't meeting the minimum recommended dietary allowance for far too many vitamins and minerals. There is also a lot of specialist who believe the RDA is for too low.

I've been reading a few books recently, and have discovered the "Caro Rich" tomato, which is said to have ten time the amount of vitamin A found in other tomato varieties. So obviously, what needed to happen happened: I am now obsessed with plant with higher than average nutrients. So I'm wondering if anyone know about other plants variety which are particularly rich in vitamins and minerals.

As far as I know, the darker, more colored a fruit/vegetable is, the more it's rich in good things, but not necessarily vitamins/minerals: black raspberries have more anthocyanin than yellow or red ones, white carrots have less carotene and so less vitamin A than orange or red carrots...

In fact, there are tons of interesting compounds found in plants, some being nutritional, and others being medicinal (although we could argue that the former is also medicinal in appropriate quantities). There is also the question, is the compound bio-available ? There are debates that vegetable sources of B12 vitamin are not bio-available for humans, but I want this to stay simple for now.

I'm looking for some kind of array with the most nutritious species available, and which variety of the plant has the most of X vitamin/mineral/other compound. If such a table doesn't exist, well, if anyone have knowledge to share, it could be a nice resource to build. The Caro Rich tomato I talked about has a lot of Vitamin A, goji berries  which are marketed as superfood have a lot vitamin A, some vitamin C, etc, but so far I have not read about one more nutritionally richer variety being cultivated. There are also a few uncommon fruits that are very rich in vitamin C for instance.
 
pollinator
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We have been growing the darker varieties over several years.  Some, like carrots and cabbage taste more robust with higher brix.   What that means I'm not sure.
Maybe a bigger difference can be found in remineralizing soil, using a
Greater diversity in fertilizing. We now add sifted chicken run soil, leaf mold, compost, thick hay mulch worm casting, and even making small batches of biochar. Not a lot of anything in particular but a little of everything, everywhere as we get it..   So assuming all that good stuff is available to the plants they would reach their genetic potential over time.
   After cancer hit a close family member several years ago we now grow the super food stuff. Morninga, very easy to grow here.( Taste like dirt but we dry and put in everything )
Tumeric, purslane and several others.
IMG_20220227_132453635.jpg
Purple carrots harvested this weekend
Purple carrots harvested this weekend
 
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like was said, soil health affects nutritional quality. i grow black chokeberry, black currants, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, goumi, autumn olive and sour cherry. all are in their own right are super foods. some more than others but incorporated in your diet they improve health and reduce chances of disease. i also grow the more colorful veggies for their benefits as well.
 
pollinator
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The microbial life in your soil will also have an impact on plant nutrition. I tend to grow the most colorful varieties I can, but as others have said, it comes down to the soil. The soil structure, minerals, microbial life, etc. will all improve the nutritional value of your food.
 
Mike Lafay
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Ralph Sluder wrote:We have been growing the darker varieties over several years.  Some, like carrots and cabbage taste more robust with higher brix.   What that means I'm not sure.
Maybe a bigger difference can be found in remineralizing soil, using a
Greater diversity in fertilizing. We now add sifted chicken run soil, leaf mold, compost, thick hay mulch worm casting, and even making small batches of biochar. Not a lot of anything in particular but a little of everything, everywhere as we get it..   So assuming all that good stuff is available to the plants they would reach their genetic potential over time.
   After cancer hit a close family member several years ago we now grow the super food stuff. Morninga, very easy to grow here.( Taste like dirt but we dry and put in everything )
Tumeric, purslane and several others.



Amazing carrots !

Do you mean Moringa ? I've heard a few good things about it.

steve bossie wrote:like was said, soil health affects nutritional quality. i grow black chokeberry, black currants, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, goumi, autumn olive and sour cherry. all are in their own right are super foods. some more than others but incorporated in your diet they improve health and reduce chances of disease. i also grow the more colorful veggies for their benefits as well.




Robin Katz wrote:The microbial life in your soil will also have an impact on plant nutrition. I tend to grow the most colorful varieties I can, but as others have said, it comes down to the soil. The soil structure, minerals, microbial life, etc. will all improve the nutritional value of your food.



Yes, one important step would be to have the soil contain all the important minerals (not just the NPK), a good soil texture, structure, and a good microbial life.

But let's say it's all taken care of. Best soil possible, no matter what is being planted. Let's say no matter if it requires clay or sand, acid, neutral or alkaline pH, it's covered. Yeah, black currants, blueberries, etc are really good to have around. Are there any cultivar that has better nutritional value than the average plant ? Like with my tomato example: yes, tomatoes are good to have around, but the "Caro Rich" has much more vitamin A than the average tomato. Black currants, blueberries, raspberries... good to have around, but is there any cultivar, variety, whatever it's called, that has more nutrient than the average, that was selected so it has more nutrient ?
 
Mike Lafay
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So a few more information I've found, however it's still all about tomatoes.

The "Caro" and "Caro Rich" have a lot of vitamin A (got a lot of beta-carotene).

The "Double Rich" has a lot of vitamin C.

The cherry tomato variety "Peacevine" seems to also have a lot of vitamin C, and contains a lot of GABA.

As it seems it wasn't clear when I asked the question, those plants are producing more vitamins and other interesting compounds that other varieties. None of those compounds contain anything other than oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and so the argument for a soil rich in minerals is not completely valid in the sense that those minerals are not present in those compounds.

Obviously, if some variety of potato or something else happen to contain a lot of calcium, it will need it from the soil, but perhaps another variety will need much less because it will contain much less.

Basically that's the whole question behind this thread. With identical growing conditions, which varieties will have more nutrients ?
 
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Fantastic carrots! I always wondered about their flavor. My kids like the orange ones so I am afraid they will not like it aw much if its too different
 
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There is “golden rice,” which contains beta carotene, but it’s a product of genetic engineering. https://www.irri.org/golden-rice.

It seems most of the “super nutrient” vegetables and fruits are just extra high in some select nutrient— either beta carotene or anthocyanins in the case of the purple or “black” vegetables on market.

I do wonder how these crops compare yield-wise to standard varieties, i.e. does it work out that you get more total nutrition over the lifecycle of the plant, or just a smaller number of fruits that are super high in a particular nutrient.
 
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I read somewhere that dandelions are the 4th most nutritious food on the planet.
 
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Several of my 75 tomatoes are Caro Rich. I came across it being offered by my tomatoe vendor of choice, and decided to try it. I’m anxious to see how they taste, and am already regretting not planting more of that variety.

Another new one to me, is an herb ~ fenugreek. Very popular in Mediterranean and Indian cooking, it is reported to have some impressive health qualities, but like many herbs, there are cautions as well. I only planted a small patch among my other herbs, but I do a lot of succession planting, so as I harvest, I plant. So I’ll be sticking in a much bigger row of it soon. Hopefully, we’ll get enough seeds to use in recipes. So far, I’ve used the leaves mixed in with kale, collards, and chard.
 
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Jo Robinson's book Eating on the Wild Side discusses different cultivars that have a higher percentage of nutrients. Usually, smaller varieties have more than bigger ones, since they have more skin to flesh ratio and much of the nutrients are in the peeling. For lettuces, open-leafed varieties are generally more nutritious than closed leaf since the former has more leaves exposed to the sun. She has plenty more tidbits like that, including naming the varieties and how to store them so you don't lose the nutrients.

Grow Yourself Healthy by Beth Marshall is another one. If I remember correctly, she doesn't talk about specific cultivars but focuses more on how to grow and when to harvest for the most nutrition.
 
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Mushrooms provide many of the same nutritional benefits as vegetables, as well as some commonly found in meat, beans and grains
98114A41-5F89-4589-893B-F8C77C010FFB.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 98114A41-5F89-4589-893B-F8C77C010FFB.jpeg]
 
master pollinator
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Just to put some numbers on the Caro tomato mentioned, since I was curious, I found a few people saying they have 10x the beta carotene as normal tomatoes. My calorie tracker says a medium sized, red tomato is about 120g and has 50mcg of beta carotene. So the same Caro would have 500mcg. RDA is 700mcg.

I actually track everything I eat, so I see exactly what nutrients I'm getting - theoretically. As mentioned, I can't know the actual nutrient density of my food. However, centering my diet on fruits and vegetables, I'm way over the RDA for pretty much everything every day.

Vitamin A/beta carotene and vitamin C are so easy to get I wouldn't bother looking for special varieties. I'm generally at 300-600% RDA on those - not including carrots, since one carrot will cover your beta carotene for the day. Even if the sources are quite a bit lower in nutrients than they should be, I'd probably still be more than fine.

The nutrients I sometimes need to pay attention to to get enough are vitamins B3/niacin, B5/pantothenic acid, and E and minerals calcium, iron and selenium. So plants or varieties of plants that are highest in those would be most important, I think.

For calcium and iron, as long as I'm eating lots of kale and turnip greens, I get lots. I get my iron tested regularly, so I know I'm absorbing it. I'll have to assume about the calcium, but my nails are thick and the dentist complained about how hard everything in my mouth was when I had a root canal on a broken tooth done a while ago.

For vitamin E, I think turnip greens are a pretty good source. I wonder about the variety I have, though. I grow Dietrich's wild broccoli raab from EFN, which is a feral turnip.  Mostly though, I rely on sunflower seeds. I get the bulk of my selenium from them as well.  Are there varieties higher in these than others? I don't know. A red pepper that's higher than usual in vitamin E would be nice.

For B3 and B5, I should just eat more sunflower seeds and mushrooms, i guess. But I'd be interested in a potato that's particularly high in niacin, since they're a decent source already.
 
pollinator
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In Tomato Junction they have talked about the lycopene in tomatoes.   Red tomatoes have a form that our bodies can't use unless the tomatoes are cooked.
On the other hand orange tomatoes have varying amounts of tetra-cis-lycopene which our bodies can use without the tomato being cooked.   There was/is a group in New Zealand that tested a number of varieties and listed the amount of tetra-cis-lycopene they produce.  

The "blue" tomatoes produce the same blue pigment that is in blueberries and our body uses it the same way they would use blueberries. These ARE NOT GMO but rather were developed by crossing wild related species into domestic tomatoes.  

And yes they have also talked about beta carotene varieties.  It really is fascinating when you start delving into what tomatoes really have to offer...

 
steve bossie
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Dorothy Pohorelow wrote:In Tomato Junction they have talked about the lycopene in tomatoes.   Red tomatoes have a form that our bodies can't use unless the tomatoes are cooked.
On the other hand orange tomatoes have varying amounts of tetra-cis-lycopene which our bodies can use without the tomato being cooked.   There was/is a group in New Zealand that tested a number of varieties and listed the amount of tetra-cis-lycopene they produce.  

The "blue" tomatoes produce the same blue pigment that is in blueberries and our body uses it the same way they would use blueberries. These ARE NOT GMO but rather were developed by crossing wild related species into domestic tomatoes.  

And yes they have also talked about beta carotene varieties.  It really is fascinating when you start delving into what tomatoes really have to offer...

look into Autmn olive and goumi berry they have up to 10xs more lycopene than tomatoes and are perennial bushes. aronia or black chokeberry are off the charts for antioxidants and polyphenols. black currants and elderberry fall in a close 2nd. all are easy to grow with a low calorie count. i either make freezer jam or low temp juice from them to protect their nutrients from degrading. im growing atomic orange and painted mountain corn from rareseeds.com for fresh eating and cornmeal. atomic orange has high beta carotine and painted mountain has high antioxidents for a corn. also higher protien and they grow great in my short growing season. also growing red and blue fleshed potatoes for the same reasons. beets are really good for this also and i live me some spiced pickled beets! got 4 rows of red and purple carrots. ;)
 
steve bossie
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Mike Lafay wrote:

Ralph Sluder wrote:We have been growing the darker varieties over several years.  Some, like carrots and cabbage taste more robust with higher brix.   What that means I'm not sure.
Maybe a bigger difference can be found in remineralizing soil, using a
Greater diversity in fertilizing. We now add sifted chicken run soil, leaf mold, compost, thick hay mulch worm casting, and even making small batches of biochar. Not a lot of anything in particular but a little of everything, everywhere as we get it..   So assuming all that good stuff is available to the plants they would reach their genetic potential over time.
   After cancer hit a close family member several years ago we now grow the super food stuff. Morninga, very easy to grow here.( Taste like dirt but we dry and put in everything )
Tumeric, purslane and several others.



Amazing carrots !

Do you mean Moringa ? I've heard a few good things about it.

steve bossie wrote:like was said, soil health affects nutritional quality. i grow black chokeberry, black currants, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, goumi, autumn olive and sour cherry. all are in their own right are super foods. some more than others but incorporated in your diet they improve health and reduce chances of disease. i also grow the more colorful veggies for their benefits as well.




Robin Katz wrote:The microbial life in your soil will also have an impact on plant nutrition. I tend to grow the most colorful varieties I can, but as others have said, it comes down to the soil. The soil structure, minerals, microbial life, etc. will all improve the nutritional value of your food.



Yes, one important step would be to have the soil contain all the important minerals (not just the NPK), a good soil texture, structure, and a good microbial life.

But let's say it's all taken care of. Best soil possible, no matter what is being planted. Let's say no matter if it requires clay or sand, acid, neutral or alkaline pH, it's covered. Yeah, black currants, blueberries, etc are really good to have around. Are there any cultivar that has better nutritional value than the average plant ? Like with my tomato example: yes, tomatoes are good to have around, but the "Caro Rich" has much more vitamin A than the average tomato. Black currants, blueberries, raspberries... good to have around, but is there any cultivar, variety, whatever it's called, that has more nutrient than the average, that was selected so it has more nutrient ?

some of the cultivars are rated as having better nutrient profiles but i dont remember which ones. these minor fruits havent been improved on as long as more traditional fruits so i think the nutrients arent much different than the wild ones.
 
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