It Ain't Easy Bein' Greens

Photography by: David Prince
It Ain't Easy Bein' Greens
Bonus points: 1,084 IU vitamin A, 157 mg potassium, and 26 mg calcium per 1-cup serving.

The innocuous-sounding name belies its sharp, peppery tang. "Watercress is a nice counterpunch to some of the blander salad greens," says Dianne Onstad, author of the Whole Foods Companion. It offers 959 mcg beta carotene per 1-cup serving, as well as generous amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and lutein--though almost no folate, so pair it with endive as shown.
Bonus points: Among cruciferous vegetables (yes, succulent, leggy watercress belongs to the same family as broccoli and cabbage), watercress has the highest levels of a compound called phenylethylisothiocyanate. According to researchers at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, PEITC blocks cancer-causing chemicals; in laboratory studies, it appeared to protect the lungs of smokers from carcinogens associated with tobacco. Watercress is also one of the few greens with traces of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.