The 11 Most Nutritious Foods in the World

The 11 Most Nutritious Foods in the World

Young Woman Eating Chocolate

Want to learn the secret to eating as much as you like and not getting fat? The answer is pretty simple…

Eat nutrient-dense foods!

Check this out:

A hundred grams of kale has only forty-nine calories while the same amount of fries has 312 calories. But that hundred grams of kale contains 200% of your daily requirement of vitamins A and C, while the same amount of fries barely registers.

When you eat nutrient-dense foods, you get more nutrients while taking in fewer calories. This has all kinds of positive effects… your appetite is satiated because your body knows you’ve gotten the nutrition it craves to function optimally, you stave off chronic disease, and the pounds melt away as a nice side effect.

That’s why today I want to tell you about the eleven most nutrient-dense food you can get your hands on. Eat these and you’ll go a long way toward improving your health and trimming down your waistline.

#1 Blueberries

blueberries

Blueberries are rich in potent anti-oxidants, including anthocyanins and several phytochemicals.[i]

When included in a regular diet, they increase the antioxidant value in blood.  Furthermore, the bioactive principles of blueberries, such as the phytochemicals, can pass through the blood-brain barrier and offer beneficial effects on the brain, including the improvement of visual function.[ii]

Another one of the many tried and tested benefits of consuming blueberries is the preservation and even enhancement of memory in older adults. Preliminary investigation shows that supplementing with blueberries may mitigate brain degeneration, which can lead to dementia.[iii]

Some studies suggest that these fruits decrease cardiovascular risk in obese people with metabolic syndrome. Regular consumption of blueberries has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol.[iv]

#2 Kale

Bunch of fresh kale over a wooden background

Ah, veggies – what childhood is complete without the familiar lines, ‘‘Eat it! It’s healthy for you”? Vegetables are the standard health food, though many complain they are ‘rabbit food.’

One of the healthiest in the world is kale, a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbages; it is one of the healthiest leafy greens around because it is rich in nutrients, namely anti-oxidants, various vitamins, and assorted bioactive components.

For example, 100 grams of raw kale contains only 50 calories. While it also contains very little fiber (about 2 grams) and protein (only 3 grams), it is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese and offers large percentages of the RDA of vitamin B6, vitamin C (200%), vitamin A (308%), and vitamin K1 (1000%).[v]

Kale can be eaten raw as a salad, served as a garnish, stir fried, sautéed, braised, or used in soup.  Seasoned, cripsy kale chips are even available as a replacement for potato chips. So, be sure to include kale the next time you fix up some leafy greens for your meal.

#3 Garlic

garlicOne of the main benefits of consuming garlic is attributed to a component called allicin, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Allicin lowers total cholesterol levels, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, but maintains the level of HDL (“healthy”) cholesterol[vi]. It can also reduce the risk of certain cancers. Studies show that garlic can significantly lower the risk of getting stomach and colon cancer. Garlic’s active compounds become inactivated when it is cooked. Allowing crushed garlic to “stand” for 10 minutes before cooking may prevent a total loss of the anticarcinogenic activity.

#4 Potatoes

Tasty warm potatoes…mmmm. The main ingredient in French fries is in all actuality a healthy and nutritious food.

After cooked potatoes are allowed to cool, they form a large amount of resistant starch, a healthy and beneficial dietary fiber. Additionally, potatoes are so rich in nutrients they have almost every nutrient a person needs in her daily diet. A large potato contains high amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese, and plenty of vitamins such as C and various B vitamins.[vii] Sweet potatoes or yams offer a higher level of fiber and carotenoid content. Just don’t over do potatoes because they do have a high carbohydrate content. Eat the skin as that is where most of the fiber and nutrients are found. Go organic will help you avoid GMO potatoes too!

#5 Seaweed

Healthy Kelp Salad

Seaweed is an irreplaceable ingredient used in sushi and various other dishes.

Seaweed is one of the best and most common sources of iodine, a mineral which prevents goiter, and which the body uses in the making of essential thyroid hormones.

Besides being a good source of iodine, seaweeds are rich in phytonutrients and carotenoids, which are anti-oxidants that are potent anti-inflammatory agents. Seaweed also contains a high content of chlorophyll, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.[viii]

Japanese food stores, and more and more conventional grocery stores, have dried seaweed in a variety of flavors, which is sold as snack-like chips in colorful bags.  However, if the thought of eating seaweed is distasteful, there are dried kelp tablets available as iodine-packed supplements if more natural iodine is needed in the diet. Be careful about brown seaweed as it can accumulate heavy metals like arsenic. A study in 2004 found that hijiki seaweed contained significant amounts of arsenic, so go lightly on these![ix]

#6 Liver

Liver and Onion meal

Humans have been eating meat since before recorded history. We were hunters and gatherers before we were farmers. In terms of nutritional content, organ meats such as the liver have a higher value than lean muscle meat. In fact, there are cases in which modern hunters eat only the organs and use the lean meat as dog food![x]

The liver is one of the most nutrient-rich organs. Its two main functions are the production of bile, which helps in the body’s digestion, and the storing of nutrients. Because of that latter function, in comparison to lean meat, the liver is considerably more beneficial to consume. The composition of nutrients in the liver is such that it is low in sodium and rich in protein, iron, zinc, selenium and copper, plus high vitamin content:[xi]

Best to obtain liver from animals fed a healthy diet with no antibiotics or hormones, as all the chemicals they ingest, including pesticides, must be metabolized by the liver, which can accumulate toxins as the animal ages. Also, liver is high in cholesterol, so those who respond negatively to cholesterol in the diet could be best served to eat this sparingly.[xii]

#7 Eggs

Eggs have been viewed in a bad light because of their high cholesterol levels; a standard-sized egg contains 62% of the recommended daily intake of cholesterol (186 mg). However, eating eggs does not significantly change  total and LDL cholesterol levels in all subjects.[xiii]

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods in the world, and so they are being classified as a ‘super food’ and have been called ‘nature’s multivitamin.’ They have high protein content and are rich in riboflavin, phosphorus, selenium and choline. Choline especially is important – it is a vital nutrient involved in brain development, but sadly, 90% of the world’s population does not receive enough of it.[xiv]

Eggs are also inexpensive, readily available and there are thousands of ways to prepare them.

#8 Salmon

salmon steak in the frypan

Salmon is a great tasting, nutritious, fatty fish that is cooked in numerous of ways, or even eaten raw as sashimi.

A hundred-gram serving of wild Atlantic salmon has low levels of sodium, and is a good source of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.[xv]

Be careful about eating cultivated salmon and other farmed fish, because when bred in polluted water, fish absorbs mercury and other pollutants from their surroundings and the food they eat into their tissues, passing it along to whomever its it.

#9 Sardines

Sandwich with sardines

Another interesting fatty fish is sardines, oily fish that measure around six inches in length and are available canned or bottled whole. Sardines can be consumed whole which makes them extremely healthy as all of their organs are edible – even their bones can be eaten.

Sardines are rich in protein and a good source of vitamins, including niacin, vitamin D, & vitamin B12 and minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, and selenium. In total, the nutrient content of sardines has a portion of everything we need.[xvi]

Since sardines are relatively low on the food chain, they have low levels of mercury. Another bonus is that they are cheap and easily available. Sardines in cans or jars are sold almost everywhere in supermarkets and even available at drug stores and gas stations. However, when buying fresh sardines, check if the sardines have a mild fishy aroma and make sure the eyes are bright and the skin is shiny and smooth.

#10 Shellfish

shellfish

Shellfish are non-sentient animals and contain large amounts of nutrients.  A hundred grams of clams when cooked in moist heat contain 1684% of the RDA of Vitamin B12. They are a good source of protein, have low levels of saturated fats and are also a good source of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium, potassium and zinc.[xvii]

A hundred grams of oysters contain 324% of RDA for vitamin B12, 80% of RDA for vitamin D and are a good source of protein. This food is rich in magnesium and phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. It is also widely said that raw oysters are an aphrodisiac.  Oysters contain the highest levels of the rare amino acids that are said to increase the levels of sex hormones only during the spring.
Shellfish can be bought in wet markets and in supermarkets. Be warned, however, that while shellfish is one of the healthiest foods, they are not without risk. Always check if they are fresh before consumption, especially oysters. Oysters spoil quickly and have to be eaten immediately while they are still fresh.

#11 Chocolate

Last of all and the best, dessert! Chocolate has its downsides, mainly that it is high in sugar content, but chocolate has many powerful health benefits, particularly in relation to the heart, both physically and emotionally. Chocolate is made from cocoa bean extract, which is where the antioxidant content is derived. The best kinds of chocolates have 85% or at least 70% cocoa.

Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, which has a high cocoa content, is rich in antioxidants. One study found that its antioxidant content is higher than that of blueberries and acai berries.

Studies have shown that regular intake of dark chocolate is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Other studies have found that consuming dark chocolate reduces blood pressure and susceptibility to LDL oxidation. It also improves blood flow and brain activity.[xviii]

Chocolate increases the production of feel-good hormones called serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Experts warn, however, that chocolate should be consumed moderately and never in excess. It is quite possible to get addicted to chocolate because it releases these ‘happy hormones.’

There are a lot of nutritious foods you can add to the list. The key to health is to eat a variety of these foods and to eat moderately and carefully, because anything taken in excess can become a poison.

References:

[i] Fact Sheets, Berry Health Benefits Network, Retrieved September 23, 2015.

[ii] Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease, Kanti Bhooshan Pandey and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Published November 2009, Retrieved September 23, 2015.

[iii] Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults, Robert Krikorian, Marcelle D. Shidler, Tiffany A. Nas, Wilhelmina Kalt, Melinda R. Vinqvist-Tymchuk, Barbara Shukitt-Hale and James A. Joseph, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Published April 14, 2015, Retrieved September 23, 2015.

[iv] Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome, Arpita Basu,Mei Du, Misti J. Leyva, Karah Sanchez, Nancy M. Betts, Mingyuan Wu, Christopher E. Aston, and Timothy J. Lyons, The Journal of Nutrition, Published September 2010, Retrieved September 23, 2015.

[v] Kale, raw, Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 25, 2015.

[vi] Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension: a randomised controlled trial, Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP, Maturitas, July 1, 2010, Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[vii] Potato, baked, flesh and skin, without salt. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[viii] Seaweed, kelp, raw. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[ix] Seaweed – exploring its dietary value, Food Today, Published October 2008, Retrieved October 8, 2015.

[x] Guts and Grease: The Diet of Native Americans, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD, The Weston E. Price Foundation, Published January 1, 2000, Retrieved October 8, 2015.

[xi] Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, braised. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[xii] Organ Meats: Live Longer? drweil.com, Published May 21, 2012, Retrieved October 8, 2015.

[xiii] Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults – Effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk, Valentine Njike, Zubaida Faridi, Suparna Dutta, Anjelica L Gonzalez-Simon, and David L Katzcorresponding, Published July 2, 2010, Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[xiv] Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[xv] Fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked, dry heat. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[xvi] Fish, sardine, Pacific, canned in tomato sauce, drained solids with bone. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[xvii] Fish, sardine, Pacific, canned in tomato sauce, drained solids with bone. Nutrition Data, Self.com Retrieved September 29, 2015.

[xviii] Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalent coronary heart disease: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study, Djoussé L, Hopkins PN, North KE, et al., Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;30(2):182-7, Retrieved September 29, 2015.

 

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