Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables

It is not merely consuming too much fat that causes diseases. It is not merely eating empty-calorie foods or the high consumption of animal foods, such as milk, cheese, butter, meat, and chicken that causes premature deaths in America. It is also what we are missing in our diets by not eating enough plant foods. Why are plant foods so protective and essential for human health?

Let's compare the nutrient density of meat to the nutrient density of green vegetables to illustrate this important point.

Nutrients present in 100-calorie portions
BroccoliSirloin SteakRomaine LettuceKale
Protein11.2 gm5.4 gm7.5 gm11 gm
Calcium322 mg2.4 mg374 mg470 mg
Iron3.5 mg.7 mg7.7 mg5.8 mg
Magnesium74.5 mg5 mg60.5 mg97 mg
Fiber4.7 g04 g3.4 g
PhytochemicalsVery High0Very HighVery High
AntioxidantsVery High0Very HighVery High
Folate257 mcg3 mcg969 mcg60 mcg
B2.71 mg.04 mg.45 mg.32 mg
Niacin2.8 mg1.1 mg2.2 mg2.1 mg
Zinc1.04 mg1.2 mg1.2 mg gm.55 mg
Vitamin C350 mg0100 mg329 mg
Vitamin A7750 IU24 IU10,450 IU23,407 IU
Vitamin E26 IU032 IU34 IU
Cholesterol05.5 mg00
Weight307 gm24 gm550 gm266 gm
(10.6 oz)(.84 oz)(19 oz)(9.2 oz)

This table is from the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

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Comments (12) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Robin K - January 23, 2006 10:25 AM

I find it helpful that you remind us (followers of your plan) of this. Thank you.
In an Eat-to-Live blog I peruse, it seems that some followers warp your recommendations by eating the foods you recommend but reducing quantities. They eat less fruit, raw veggies, and cooked greens, and maybe no fats (nuts or avocado) to hasten weight loss, I guess. But they are missing your point about nutritional excellence gained through these foods IN THE AMOUNTS recommended.

kim - January 11, 2007 10:04 PM

What are the ten top green vegetables to eat?

Mike - September 6, 2008 3:41 PM

Every dietary analysis I looked up for sirlion steak showed it had 12 grams or more per 100 cals. I'm not saying steak is great for you. I want to know where you guys your dietary analysis from? I just want to make sure when I tell people about how lettuce has double the amount of protein than steak, it's the truth.

Ayumi Hasimoto - October 16, 2008 11:28 AM

Could it be because in most of the data the fat is trimmed? I found one that's 8.6 g protein. That's "Beef, top sirloin, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/4" fat, choice, cooked, pan-fried [Sirloin steak, Sirloin strip]" If it is not trimmed, it could well be 5.4 g, I think. I noticed the cholesterol data is not accurate, though. It is way more than 5.5 mg per 100 calories. It should be between 30-60 mg. Anyway, even if meat has about the same amount of protein as green, kinds of amino acid in the protein are not the same as greens. Talking about fats, Greens have lots of omega 3.

Kelsey - February 3, 2010 5:29 PM

How interesting that B12 was conveniently left off the list!

Lets also remember that 100 calories of broccoli is nearly 3 cups, while 100 calories of steak is a measly 1 ounce!

Tom - February 5, 2010 7:23 AM

Exactly Kelsey, very good point.

Also Ayumi makes a good point, this jumped out at me straight away, how about comparing this to a meat with a decent fat content. Or to something like liver or kidney, or organic butter. Yeah, exactly...

But then I'm a firm believer of eating what humans have been eating for thousands of years before we had massively high counts of heart disease and other such problems, i.e before "fat is bad", "dietary cholesterol is the number one problem"(one of the most important components of our body, and actually acts as an antioxidant, this being the reason why older people have higher levels of cholesterol)

Yeah - Go read some Weston Price.

Tan - March 24, 2010 12:42 PM

Firstly, I think the 5.4gms protein/100 cals of sirloin steak is completely false. So I tend to not completely trust the other data either. (It would be too much effort to try to actually verify each and everything.)
Moreover, the data is deliberately skewed to favor a vegetarian diet. The best vegetarian foods are compared to the less healthy among animal options (steak).
Also, the nutrients animal foods are richer in are conveniently left out of the list.

alluring products distributed in california - June 10, 2010 8:53 AM

This table is very helpful especially for people who are on diet and want to stay healthy. Thanks for this post I love meat and now I realize that green vegetables are more important on our daily meals.

Buddy - December 13, 2010 1:33 PM

Sorry to comment on an old post, but I found this table hilarious. A real straw man. Steak is the 'rice' of the meat eaters world. A source of fat and protein. If you want to compare nutrient dense healthy foods you can't represent the meat world without liver or even heart or kidney.

(Liver 2oz)
protein: 16 g
calcium: 3.4mg
Iron: 3.6 mg
Magnesium: 11.8 mg
Fiber: 0
Phytochemicals: 0
Antioxidants: 0
Folate: 141.6 mcg
B2: 2000 mcg
B12: 39.6 mcg
Niacin: 9.8 mg
Zinc: 3.0 mg
Vit C: 1.0 mg
Vit A: 17,762 IU
Vit E: .2 mg
Pantothenic Acid: 4.0 mg
copper: 8mg
Selenium: 20.2 mcg
Cholesterol: 222 mg
106 calories

Delicious and nutritious. Also, those numbers on steak are under half what I am seeing everywhere. I think someone played with the numbers by selecting a very fatty piece of sirloin.


Sirloin steak:


That being said, I think everything on the chart is delicious and nutritious. I eat them all regularly.

Turbo - April 7, 2011 1:09 AM

My only critique is that with the above comparisons one would ha e to eat almost 1 pound of spinach or kale.

victoria - June 23, 2012 1:25 PM

oh my goodness - did you see the cholesterol - 222mg in only 2 oz of liver - no thanks - I actually love liver when it's cooked right - but not with those levels - . Kale is my new protein ;o}

And eating a pound of kale is easy when you juice it - Juice On

Angela Taylor - January 7, 2013 11:15 AM

What does a pound of kale look like? How much is it? It seems like it would be a ton of greens, and very expensive. I would love for this to be reasonable.

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