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The 10 Most Nutritious Foods

by Jill-Ann Ouellette


Imagine the ideal food… one that contains all the nutrients necessary to meet but not exceed our daily nutrient demands. If such a food existed, consuming it alone would provide the optimal daily nutritional balance for your body. It sounds like it could be boring!


Well, such a food does not exist. After analyzing more than 1,000 raw foods, British researchers ranked the foods that provide the best balance of daily nutritional requirements and they found a few surprises. I noticed some superfoods missing from the top of the list (like avocado, blueberries, kale, salmon and fermented foods—all ranking lower on the list), but I love to learn new things.


The key to a healthy diet is to eat a balance of highly nutritional foods, while staying within the daily recommended amounts of those nutrients. An important note is that preparing the foods in unhealthy ways is counterproductive. It’s best to eat vegetables raw, steam them, or lightly stir fry them. Fish can be baked, broiled or grilled. Yes, most items on this list are nuts, leafy greens, and fish!


Ranked by scientists and researchers, these are the ten most nutritious foods:


10. Dried parsley: Parsley that is dried and ground to use as a spice. It is high in boron, fluoride, and calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Shake, shake, shake in your recipes—not just for looks, there’s nutrition in there too. 292 kcal per 100 g


9. Snapper: A family of mainly marine fish, with red snapper being the best known. Rich in vitamins A and B, potassium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritious but may contain mercury and best eaten in moderation. 100 kcal per 100 g


8. Beet greens: The leaves of beetroot vegetables. They are considered a superfood, high in calcium, iron, vitamin K and B (especially riboflavin), magnesium and potassium. A personal favorite of mine. 22 kcal per 100 g


7. Swiss chard: A rare, dietary source of betalains (red and yellow pigments, phytochemicals thought to have antioxidant and other health properties). Considered a superfood, rich in vitamins A, C and K, magnesium, iron and potassium. 19 kcal per 100 g


6. Pumpkin seeds: Including the seeds of other squashes. A good source of healthy fats, magnesium, iron, zinc and antioxidants. One of the richest plant-based sources of iron and manganese. Eating them plain is perfect or roast them with light spices. 559 kcal per 100 g


5. Chia seeds: Tiny, black seeds that contain high amounts of dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals and Omega-3 fatty acids. They are rich in protein, a-linolenic acid, phenolic acid and vitamins. These are considered a superfood and are easy to add to many recipes without changing the flavor, such as in puddings, salads and salad dressings, crackers, and breads. 486 kcal per 100 g


4. Flatfish: Sole and flounder species. Generally free from mercury and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. These fish are on the bland side and need some spicing up, so reach for that parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper, etc. 70 kcal per 100 g


3. Ocean perch: The Atlantic species. A deep-water fish sometimes called rockfish. It is high in protein and low in saturated fat. It’s a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, phosphorus, and selenium. 79 kcal per 100 g


2. Cherimoya (a tropical custard apple): Cherimoya fruit is fleshy and sweet with a white pulp. It is nutrient-dense and rich in vitamins A, C, B1 and B2, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and antioxidants. Rich in sugar. These are native to Southern California and can often be found often at local markets or on Amazon. 75 kcal per 100 g


1. Almonds: These are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. They promote cardiovascular health and may help with diabetes. They are a calorie-dense food that is high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, magnesium, and vitamin E. You can eat these raw, roasted, added to stir fries, etc. Remember that soaking nuts and seeds overnight allows their enzymes to break down the phytic acid and makes the nutrients more bioavailable. 579 kcal per 100 g

The benefits of eating healthy are boundless. If you would like to live longer (with all your five senses) and healthy, to improve digestive function, to support your muscles, boost your immunity, strength your bones, or lower health risks like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and to support your baby’s health during pregnancy and breastfeeding, what you eat matters. So, make informed decisions and, of course, buy organic when you can!


Excerpted from BBC Future. Nutritional data based on The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

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