Gobbling multivitamins every day might be a good way to inject some nutrients in to your system, but let’s face it—eating real food is much more fun than swallowing multivitamins. If you choose the right combination of foods, you are guaranteed to get the essential nutrients your body needs to keep healthy and strong. You just need to know which foods provide the most nutrients.
According to The George Mateljan Foundation (TGMF), a not-for-profit foundation out to help make a healthier you and a healthier world, there are thousands of different foods in the world that contain at least several of the nutrients our bodies need. These nutrient-rich foods are among the world’s healthiest foods and serve as the basis of our healthiest diets.
In the best-selling book The World’s Healthiest Foods, biologist, nutritionist, and TGMF founder George Mateljan says the healthiest foods in the world are the most nutrient-dense sources of natural, essential nutrients. These foods are also the best-tasting, most readily available, common, and inexpensive foods in the world. If you are looking to change your diet for tasty, natural, nutrient-rich foods, these top 10 foods represent the world’s healthiest foods.
You can’t argue about the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables. Vegetables keep your appetite in check so you don’t consume too much or too little food. They lower blood pressure and risk of digestive and eye problems. Vegetables also reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, and some cancers.
Among the most nutritious vegetables you can eat are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Sea vegetables
- Squash, summer
- Squash, winter
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
Fruits are nature’s best gift of medicine complete with minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and a host of other beneficial, plant-derived micronutrients (phyto-nutrients). These foods are naturally low in fat and calories, and none have cholesterol. Their high disease-prevention value includes protection from chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Some of the most nutritious fruits you can add to your diet are:
3. Whole grains
Whole grains are low in fat and high in fiber. They help keep the colon and heart healthy and also calm inflamed tissues that can cause health problems like swollen feet.
Some of the world’s most nutritious whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
4. Legumes (dried beans and peas)
Legumes are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. They are rich in healthy amounts of iron, magnesium and folic acid. Iron from legumes is especially helpful for people who don’t eat meat. Moreover, dried beans and peas are low in fat and high in quality protein, which is a powerful, health-boosting combination.
Some of the world’s most nutrient-dense legumes are:
- Black beans
- Dried peas
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Tofu and Tempeh
Seafood provide vital nutrients (most notably the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA} that help prevent and mitigate common chronic diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, “Fish is a food of excellent nutritional value, providing high quality protein and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium and iodine in marine fish.”
Because of the high nutritional value of seafood, experts recommend you eat two seafood meals each week. Some of the most nutritious and tasty seafood you can eat are:
6. Low-fat dairy products
Dairy products and milk constitute 10 to 12 percent of our total dietary fat. While whole milk is a good source of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorus, it is high in saturated fat and can cause problems with high calories and weight gain. Low-fat milk (1% milk) and eggs have very little fat. The low-fat products help build muscles, prevent obesity, and lower risks of diseases like type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Among the world’s best low-fat dairy products and eggs are:
- Cheese, grass-fed
- Cow’s milk, grass-fed
- Eggs, pasture-raised
- Milk, goat
- Yogurt, grass-fed
7. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a delicious and reliable source of enriching proteins, vitamins, fiber and complex carbohydrates. These foods also provide generous amounts of ‘trace’ or ‘minor’ minerals like selenium, magnesium, copper, and zinc, which are under-consumed in today’s over-processed diets.
Some of the most nutritious nuts and seeds in the world are:
- Flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
8. Natural sweeteners
Whether made from sugar cane or plants like maple, incorporating natural sweeteners in your diet is one of the healthiest ways to lose weight. Generally, the less you process the sugar source the more nutrients you get in your sweetener.
The world’s best sources of natural sweeteners are:
- Blackstrap molasses
- Maple syrup
9. Lean meats and poultry
Lean meat provides essential proteins that have a lower fat and calorie content compared to non-lean meats. Poultry provide important vitamins like vitamins B3 and vitamins B6, as well as trace minerals like selenium and choline. Choline helps with proper nerve function. If you are following a low fat and low calorie diet, lean meats and poultry are a good option for you.
Among the most nutrient-dense lean meats and poultry are:
- Beef, grass-fed
- Chicken, pasture-raised
- Turkey, pasture-raised
10. Healthy drinks
Besides quenching thirst, drinks can also make part of a healthy diet. Incorporate drinks that offer the most nutritional and health benefits in your diet.
Three of the most nutritious drinks you can use are:
- Green tea – rich in polyphenols and catechins that fight various cancers and help your heart function properly.
- Soy sauce – a great antioxidant that is rich in many essential minerals and vitamins.
- Water – keeps you hydrated and brings a host of health benefits, including preventing kidney damage.
Of course, there are many other health-promoting foods like olive oil (extra virgin) that did not make it on this list. If you know other nutrient-dense foods that make a wonderful, healthy diet, don’t hesitate to mention them in the comments. Let us know about them so we can all enjoy the great and natural tastes of those foods too.
Sometimes cooking takes a lot of time in our life, but we got some good news for you: Over 100 Quick and Easy Healthy FoodsFeatured photo credit: Bench in the autumn park via Shutterstock