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Tip: The USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory is more interesting than it sounds.

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…or maybe I’m just a data nerd. But try this: Go to their Nutrient Lists and scroll down the chart for your favorite nutrient. Of course you have a favorite: it’s what your doctor said you should be eating.

When you find it, look to the far right on that row and click on the button to make it sort the list by nutrient content.

For example, I wanted to know which foods, besides bananas, have lots of potassium, so I clicked on the button and it produced a list beginning with high-potassium foods like tomatoes, beet greens, and raisins, and ending in the potassium wasteland with hard candy and peanut oil.

If the page didn’t have those dull graphics and bureaucratic title, I would recommend using it with kids to teach them about nutrition. But they’re better off with Eat Smart, Play Hard, another USDA site in which superhero Power Panther and his nephew Slurp offer nutrition advice in comic-book format. Intellectual nutrition or empty brain calories? It’s your call, but their main page has icons for the Town Library AND the Farmers’ Market, so it can’t be all bad!

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