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25 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet

In the search for a healthier lifestyle, many people turn to eat healthier. One of the most common questions asked is, “What are the healthiest foods?” 

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the nutrient-dense foods on Earth and how they can help you achieve your goals. 

We will explore what these superfoods have to offer in terms of nutrients and calories and how they can be used in different recipes. If you’re looking for ways to eat healthy without sacrificing taste, then this blog post is for you!

What are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet? Unfortunately, this question is one of those that are impossible to answer definitively because there’s no way to rank something like kale against a sweet potato. But we can tell you about some really good contenders for your diet and why they’re so beneficial. 

Take black beans as an example: not only does this versatile legume provide protein, fibre, iron, zinc and folate (vitamin B9), it also has anthocyanins – potent antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation. All in all, these little guys pack more than 16 grams of protein per cup!

The following list is a compilation of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. These foods will help you get your daily dose of nutrients and even provide you with extra energy to keep going throughout the day! 

This blog post includes kale, omega-3s, chia seeds, beets, blueberries, spirulina, quinoa and dark chocolate. It’s important to eat these nutritious foods every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle and live a long life!

Nutrient density is the measure of nutrients divided by calories. A food’s nutrient density score is a percentage, with 100% representing the most nutritious foods on the planet.  

Some examples of these are kale, broccoli, and spinach which have high amounts of vitamins and minerals per calorie. They also contain a lot of fibre for a low number of calories. So if you want to eat healthily but need some ideas for cooking, check out this list!  

The foods listed below all have at least 10% more nutrients than calories from fat alone, so if you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier, this should be your go-to list!

What are the best foods to eat to be healthy? This is a question that many people ask themselves, and so we have compiled a list of the top 10 most nutrient-dense foods on Earth. 

These foods will give you more vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants than any other food available to us today. They help with your immune system, heart health, mental clarity and weight management, among other things. Make sure these are staples in your diet every day! 

Let’s get started!

1. Salmon

Not all fish are created equal.

Salmon — and other fatty types of fish — contain the greatest amount of omega-3s fatty acids.

Omega-3s are extremely important for the optimal function of your body. In addition, they’re linked to improved wellbeing and a lower risk of many serious diseases.

Although salmon is mainly prized for its beneficial composition of fatty acids, it also packs many other nutrients.

A 100-gram piece of wild salmon contains 2.8 grams of omega-3s, along with lots of high-quality animal protein and ample vitamins and minerals, including large amounts of magnesium, potassium, selenium and B vitamins.

It is a good idea to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week to get all the omega-3s your body needs.

Studies show that people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and many other common diseases.

Also, salmon tastes good and is fairly simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories.

If you can, choose wild salmon instead of farmed. It is more nutritious, has a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and is less likely to contain contaminants.

2. Pork

A longtime enemy of doctors and dieters, pork has been coming around as a healthier alternative of late—as long as you choose the right cut. 

Your best bet is pork tenderloin: A University of Wisconsin study found that a three-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has slightly less fat than a skinless chicken breast. 

It has 24 grams of protein per serving and 83 milligrams of waist-whittling choline (in the latter case, about the same as a medium egg). 

In a study published in the journal Nutrients, scientists asked 144 overweight people to eat a diet rich in fresh lean pork. After three months, the group saw a significant reduction in waist size, BMI and belly fat, with no reduction in muscle mass! 

They speculate that the amino acid profile of pork protein may contribute to greater fat burning.

3. Kale

vegetables-kale

Of all the healthy leafy greens, kale is the king.

It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds.

A 100-gram portion of kale contains:

  • Vitamin C: 200% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 300% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K1: 1,000% of the RDI

Large amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese

The same amount has 2 grams of fibre, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories.

Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are very nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, which are substances that can bind minerals like calcium in your intestine, preventing them from being absorbed.

Kale and other greens are also high in various bioactive compounds, including isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test-tube and animal studies.

4. Pink Lady Apples

Apples are a great fruit source of fibre, which studies have proven to be integral to reducing visceral fat. 

A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fibre eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 per cent over five years. 

A study conducted by University of Western Australia researchers found that the Pink Lady variety had the highest level of antioxidant flavonoids.

5. Seaweed

The sea has more than just fish. It also contains massive amounts of vegetation.

There are thousands of different plant species in the ocean, some of which are very nutritious. Usually, they are referred to collectively as seaweed.

Seaweed is popular in dishes like sushi. Many sushi dishes also include a type of seaweed known as nori, which is used as an edible wrapping.

In many cases, seaweed is even more nutritious than land vegetables. It is particularly high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese.

It is also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including phycocyanins and carotenoids. Some of these substances are antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory capacities.

But seaweed really shines in its high iodine content, a mineral your body uses to make thyroid hormones.

Just eating a high-iodine seaweed like kelp a few times per month can give your body all the iodine it needs.

If you don’t like the taste of seaweed, you can also take it in supplement form. Dried kelp tablets are very cheap and loaded with iodine.

6. Avocado

Though somewhat villainized for being high in calories, avocados are more than worthy of a role in your diet. 

Just half of an avocado contains 4.6 grams of belly-filling fibre, and the green fruit’s satiating powers are so potent that a study in Nutrition Journal discovered that folks who added half a fresh avocado to their meal reported a 40 per cent decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. 

Furthermore, avocados contain metabolism-enhancing monounsaturated fats that have been shown to reduce hunger, and unsaturated fats, which seem to prevent the storage of belly fat. 

In fact, according to a review that appeared in the journal Phytotherapy Research, avocados may help combat metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of risk factors including high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index that may then lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

7. Garlic

Garlic is an amazing ingredient.

Not only can it turn all sorts of bland dishes delicious, but it is also very nutritious.

It is high in vitamins C, B1 and B6, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.

Garlic is also high in beneficial sulphur compounds such as allicin.

Many studies show that allicin and garlic may lower blood pressure and total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. It also raises “good” HDL cholesterol, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease down the line.

It also has various cancer-fighting properties. For example, studies show that people who eat a lot of garlic have a much lower risk of several common cancers, especially colon and stomach cancers.

Raw garlic also has significant antibacterial and antifungal properties. 

8. Beets

These ruby-red roots contain a type of antioxidant called betalains that help repair and regenerate cells in the liver, your body’s primary detox organ. 

Beets are also high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fibre, and essential minerals like potassium, which allows for healthy nerve and muscle function, and manganese, which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. 

What’s more? According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, Beets also contain nitrates, which lowers blood pressure and helps those with chronic kidney disease.

9. Shellfish

Many sea animals are high in nutrients, but shellfish may be among the most nutritious of all.

Commonly consumed types of shellfish include clams, oysters, scallops and mussels.

Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 in existence, with 100 grams of clams supplying over 16 times the RDI. They are also loaded with vitamin C, various B vitamins, potassium, selenium and iron.

Oysters are also very nutritious. For example, only 100 grams supply 600% of the RDI for zinc, 200% of the RDI for copper and large amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin D and several other nutrients.

Though shellfish are among the world’s most nutritious foods, most people rarely consume them.

10. Broccoli

In addition to warding off prostate, breast, lung and skin cancers, this flowery vegetable can also help you whittle your middle. 

According to experts, broccoli contains a phytonutrient called sulforaphane that increases testosterone and fights off body fat storage. It’s also rich in vitamin C ( a mere cup of the stuff can help you hit your daily mark), a nutrient that can lower cortisol levels during stressful situations. 

The only downside? It can make some people with sensitive stomachs a bit gassy and bloated—which isn’t a good look if you’re planning to hit the beach or rock a tight-fitting outfit. 

That’s no reason to steer clear of this veggie on a day-to-day basis, though. Whip up this parmesan roasted broccoli recipe to reap the belly-flattening benefits—just maybe not the day before you need to look your leanest.

11. Amaranth

Like quinoa, amaranth is not technically a grain but the seed of an amaranth plant. Naturally gluten-free, amaranth is higher in muscle-building protein than wheat and brown rice—with more than 9 grams per cup—and surprisingly high in other nutrients such as calcium and fibre as well.

Amaranth is also an excellent source of manganese, iron, and selenium, which keeps your thyroid in check and preserves elastin in the skin, helping your skin stay supple, smooth and tight. 

What’s more? Cooked amaranth leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, manganese, and folate.

12. Potatoes

potatoes-sack

A single large potato is high in potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. It also contains vitamin C and most B vitamins.

They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. There are accounts of people living on nothing but potatoes for a long time.

They are also one of the most filling foods. When researchers compared the satiety value of different foods, boiled potatoes scored higher than any other food measured.

If you allow potatoes to cool after cooking, they also form resistant starch, a fibre-like substance with many powerful health benefits.

13. Beans

Beans are good for more than just your heart. They’re loaded with proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can benefit your brain and muscles, too. 

Not to mention, they digest very slowly, which can help you feel fuller, longer, and fuel weight loss efforts without causing feelings of deprivation. Look for easy-to-use, pre-cooked BPA-free varieties that come in a pouch or a box. 

Add them to soups and salads or mix them with brown rice and steamed vegetables to create a hearty—yet healthy—dinner. Big into snacking? Mix black beans with some salsa and corn, and serve with some whole grain crackers (make sure they are one of our go-to low carb snacks).

14. Liver

Humans and our remote ancestors have been eating animals for millions of years.

However, the modern Western diet has prioritized muscle meat over organ meats. Compared to the organs, muscle meat is nutritionally poor.

Out of all the organs, the liver is by far the most nutritious.

The liver is a remarkable organ with hundreds of functions related to metabolism. One of its functions is to store important nutrients for the rest of your body.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of beef liver contains:

  • Vitamin B12: 1,176% of the DV
  • Vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and folate: Over 50% of the DV
  • Vitamin B2: 201% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 634% of the DV
  • Copper: 714% of the DV
  • Iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium: Over 30% of the DV
  • High-quality animal protein: 29 grams

Eating liver once per week is a good way to ensure that you get optimal amounts of these vital nutrients.

15. Soybean Products

Vegetarians rejoice! Soy protein, such as tofu or tempeh, might not be as popular as chicken or fish. Still, it boasts its own set of impressive nutritional benefits that include protecting lean body mass and reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. 

A review published in the journal Nutrients found that soy, in addition to lowering bad cholesterol, can also improve cardiovascular health through mechanisms that have nothing to do with its protein content. 

Thanks to additional components—namely isoflavones, lecithins, saponins, and fibre—numerous studies have shown that soy can alleviate cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension, hyperglycemia, inflammation, and obesity beyond cholesterol lowering. 

A 2016 study even found that vegetarian-safe food can also improve kidney function among older adults.

16. Sardines

Sardines are small, oily fish that can be eaten whole.

Shop for sardines online.

Given that the organs are usually the most nutritious parts of an animal, it is not surprising that whole sardines are very nourishing.

They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient that your body needs and are nearly nutritionally perfect.

Like other fatty fish, they’re also very high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

17. Lentils

Here are some pretty amazing proportions: One cup of lentils has the protein of three eggs, with less than one gram of fat! 

Their high fibre content makes them extremely satiating. Moreover, studies have shown that they speed fat loss: Spanish researchers found that people whose diets included four weekly servings of legumes lost more weight and improved their cholesterol more than people who didn’t. 

Eat them on their own as a side or simmer them into a soup.

18. Triticale

While you may have never heard of this hearty whole grain before, it may become your new favourite. 

This wheat-rye hybrid packs 12 grams of protein per half-cup and is also rich in brain-boosting iron, bloat-busting potassium, magnesium and heart-healthy fibre. 

Use triticale berries in place of rice and mix it with soy sauce, fresh ginger, cloves, shiitake mushrooms and edamame to make a healthy, Asian-inspired dish. 

If you prefer to fire up the oven to using the stove, use triticale flour in place of traditional flour in your baking.

19. Blueberries
blueberries-berries

When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a league of their own.

Although not as high — calories for calories — in vitamins and minerals as vegetables, they’re packed with antioxidants.

They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances, including anthocyanins and various other plant compounds, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier and exert protective effects on your brain.

Several studies have examined the health effects of blueberries in humans.

One study found that blueberries improved memory in older adults.

Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol when they added blueberries to their diet.

This finding is in line with studies showing that blueberries increase the antioxidant value of your blood.

Multiple test-tube and animal studies also suggest that blueberries can help fight cancer.

20. Peanut Butter

This creamy spread is downright addictive. But, while eating too much peanut butter can wreak havoc on your waistline, a standard two-tablespoon serving provides a solid dose of muscle-building protein and healthy fats

According to a 2014 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming peanuts can prevent cardiovascular and coronary artery disease—the most common type of heart condition. 

Look for the unsalted; no sugar added varieties without hydrogenated oils to reap the most benefits. If you’re tired of plain old sandwiches, try stirring the spread into hot oatmeal, smearing it on fresh produce, or blending it into your post-workout smoothie.

21. Egg yolks

Egg yolks have been unfairly demonized because of their cholesterol content.

However, studies show that dietary cholesterol isn’t something you generally need to worry about.

Eating moderate amounts of cholesterol doesn’t raise the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood.

Egg yolks are, therefore, one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re sometimes referred to as “nature’s multivitamin.”

Egg yolks are loaded with vitamins, minerals and various powerful nutrients, including choline.

They’re high in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that can protect your eyes and reduce your risk of eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Eggs also contain high-quality protein and healthy fats. As a result, several studies suggest that they can help you lose weight.

They are also cheap, flavorful and easy to prepare.

If you can, buy pastured and omega-3 enriched eggs. They’re healthier and more nutritious than most conventional supermarket eggs.

22. Hummus

Hummus is made from the mighty garbanzo bean, also known as a chickpea. This satiating dip is higher in fibre, healthy fats, and protein than your average ranch dip, making it a healthier alternative for your crudite platter.

23. Dark chocolate (cocoa)

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

It is loaded with fibre, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.

But its biggest benefit is its amazing range of antioxidants.

A study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate scored higher in antioxidants than any other food tested, including blueberries and acai berries.

Multiple studies in humans show that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL and improved brain function.

One study found that people who consumed chocolate more than five times per week had a 57% lower risk of heart disease.

Given that heart disease is the most common cause of death worldwide, this finding could affect millions of people.

Make sure to get dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or higher.

Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate every day may be one of the best ways to supplement your diet with additional antioxidants.

24. Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

Not all loaves of bread are carb bombs waiting to shatter your weight loss goals. Instead, this nutrient-dense bread is loaded with folate-filled lentils, protein, and good-for-you grains and seeds like barley and millet. 

To boost the flavour of your slices, make a veggie sandwich overflowing with wholesome nutrients. 

On two slices of sprouted whole-grain bread, combine tahini-free hummus, avocado slices, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, onions, spinach, and tomatoes, one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

25. Teff

This nutty-flavoured gluten-free grain may be small, but it packs a mighty nutritional punch. It’s loaded with fibre, essential amino acids, calcium and vitamin C — a nutrient not typically found in grains. 

To reap the benefits, trade your morning oatmeal in for a protein-packed teff porridge. Combine a half cup of teff with one a half cup of water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. 

Let it come to a boil before turning the heat down to low and letting it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and top with apples, cinnamon and a dollop of natural peanut butter.

The bottom line

If you want lots of nutrients without many calories, the most obvious strategy is to take dietary supplements.

However, supplements can hardly replace a healthy diet. A better way to get all the nutrients you need is to fill your meals with nutrient-dense foods.

Nutrient-dense foods are rich in nutrients relative to their calorie content. These include various healthy foods such as whole vegetables, fruits, cocoa, seafood, eggs and liver.

Start adding the above foods to your diet today to reap their benefits.

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