You can only eat a limited amount of food in a single day. To maximize the amount of nutrients you take in, it’s smart to spend your calorie budget wisely by choosing foods that contain the greatest amount and variety of nutrients.
Here are the 11 most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Not all fish are created equal. Salmon and other types of oily fish contain the most omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are extremely important for the optimal functioning of your body. They are linked to improved well-being and a reduced risk of many serious diseases. Although salmon is primarily valued for its beneficial fatty acid composition, it also contains massive amounts of other nutrients. A 100 gram serving of wild Atlantic salmon contains around 2.2 grams of omega-3s, along with plenty of high-quality animal protein and a high amount of vitamins and minerals, including high amounts of magnesium, potassium, selenium and B vitamins.
It’s a good idea to eat oily fish at least once or twice a week to get all the omega-3s your body needs. Studies show that people who regularly eat fatty fish have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and many other common health problems. The salmon tastes great and is quite simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories. If you can, choose wild salmon over farmed salmon. It is more nutritious, has a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and is less likely to contain contaminants
Of all the leafy green vegetables, kale is the king. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds. Kale is particularly rich in vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K1. It also contains large amounts of vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. A one-cup serving has only 9 calories. Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are very nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, substances that can bind minerals like calcium in your gut, preventing them from being absorbed. Kale and other green vegetables are also rich in various bioactive compounds, including isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test-tube and animal studies.
The sea does not only contain fish. It also contains massive amounts of vegetation. There are thousands of different plant species in the ocean, some of which are highly nutritious. They are generally referred to collectively as algae. Seaweed is popular in dishes like sushi. Many sushi dishes include a type of seaweed called nori, which serves as an edible wrapper.
In many cases, seaweed is even more nutritious than land vegetables. They are particularly rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. They are also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including phycocyanins and carotenoids. Some of these substances are antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory abilities. But seaweed really shines with its high content of iodine, a mineral your body uses to make thyroid hormones. Just eat an iodine-rich seaweed like kelp a few times a month to give your body all the iodine it needs. If you don’t like the taste of seaweed, you can also take it as a supplement. Dried kelp tablets are very inexpensive and loaded with iodine.
Garlic is truly an amazing ingredient. It can make all kinds of bland dishes delicious, and it’s very nutritious. It is rich in vitamins C, B1 and B6, as well as calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium. Garlic is also rich in beneficial sulfur compounds such as allicin. Numerous studies suggest that allicin and garlic can reduce blood pressure as well as total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol). They also help raise HDL (good cholesterol), potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. Garlic also has various cancer-fighting properties. Some old studies suggest 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.
Many marine animals are nutrient dense, but shellfish are perhaps among the most nutritious of them all. Clams, oysters, scallops, and mussels are commonly eaten types of shellfish. Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 out there, with 100 grams of clams providing over 16 times the RDA. They are also rich in vitamin C, various B vitamins, potassium, selenium and iron. Oysters are also very nutritious. Just 100 grams provides 600% of the AQR for zinc, 200% of the AQR for copper, and large amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin D, and several other nutrients. Although shellfish are among the most nutritious foods in the world, most people rarely eat them.
Potatoes are rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. They also contain vitamin C and most B vitamins. They contain a little of almost every nutrient you need. There are testimonies of people who lived for a long time without eating anything but potatoes. Potatoes are also one of the most filling foods. When researchers compared the satiety values of different foods, boiled potatoes scored higher than all of the other foods measured. If you allow potatoes to cool after cooking, they also form resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that has many health benefits.
Humans and our distant ancestors have been eating animals for millions of years. However, the modern Western diet favors muscle meat over organs. Compared to organs, muscle meat is nutritionally poor. Of all the organs, the liver is by far the most nutritious. The liver is a remarkable organ that has hundreds of functions related to metabolism. One of its functions is to store important nutrients for the rest of your body.
A 100 gram serving of beef liver contains:
Vitamin B12: 1176% DV
Vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and folate: more than 50% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
Vitamin B2: 201% of the DV
Vitamin A: 634% of the DV
Copper: 714% DV
Iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium: more than 30% of the daily intake.
High quality animal protein: 29 grams
Eating liver once a week is a good way to ensure an optimal intake of these vital nutrients.
Sardines are small fatty fish that can be eaten whole. Since organs are usually the most nutritious parts of an animal, it’s no surprise that whole sardines are very filling. They contain a bit of almost every nutrient your body needs. Like other oily fish, they are also very high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a class of their own. Although they are not as rich, calorie for calorie, in vitamins and minerals as vegetables, they are 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 looked at the health effects of blueberries in humans. One of them found that blueberries improved memory in older people. Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had lower blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL (bad cholesterol) after adding blueberries to their diet. This finding is consistent with studies showing that blueberries increase the antioxidant value of the blood.
10. Egg yolk
Egg yolks have been unjustly demonized because of their cholesterol content. However, studies suggest that dietary cholesterol is generally not a problem to worry about.
Consuming moderate amounts of cholesterol does not raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. The egg yolk is therefore one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Whole eggs are so nutritious that they are sometimes called “nature’s multivitamin.” Egg yolks are loaded with vitamins, minerals and various powerful nutrients, including choline. They are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may protect your eyes and reduce the risk of eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. Eggs also contain high quality protein and healthy fats. Several studies suggest that they can help with weight loss. They are also cheap, tasty and easy to prepare. If you can, buy pasture-raised eggs and/or omega-3 enriched eggs. These types of eggs are more nutritious than most conventional supermarket eggs.
11. Dark chocolate (cocoa)
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. But its biggest benefit is its amazing array of antioxidants. In fact, one study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had higher antioxidant content than any other food tested, including blueberries and acai berries.
Multiple human studies suggest that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits, including improved blood circulation, lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL cholesterol, and improved brain function. One study found that people who ate chocolate more than 5 times a week had a 57% lower risk of heart disease.
Be sure to consume dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or more. Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate each day may be one of the best ways to supplement your diet with additional antioxidants.
Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients relative to their calorie content. These include various healthy foods such as whole vegetables, fruits, cocoa, seafood, eggs and liver.