Some foods pack more nutritional punch than others, and these 20 offer the most health benefits pound for pound of all food on the planet. They not only show up on our massive list of Superfoods, but they also make it onto plenty of top 1o lists across the internet, and several have long been known to provide plenty of nutrients and and goodies for the body. There are a few that you might not be familiar with, so consider this an introduction, and then you can get to know them better in the future…
Much has been written about the virtues of spinach, and rightly so. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. It’s also readily available at most local supermarkets, and reasonably priced. You can get it fresh in the produce section, or you can buy it frozen in leaf form, and also canned in the canned veggies aisle. The main concern is getting more of it into your system so you can reap all of the positive benefits.
Right away spinach is going to go to work for you, providing you with energy, and helping you to fill your stomach without adding a lot of calories to your daily intake. When you factor in the phytonutrients working as antioxidants you’re doing yourself a huge favor with the battle against free radical damage. Not to mention you’re helping to nourish your body on a cellular level, providing increased energy, and it aids any weight loss efforts.
Nutritional Breakdown per Cup – Raw, think fresh leafy greens
Vitamin A – 2813 IU – over half of what you need daily.
Vitamin K – 145mcg – almost twice as much as needed daily.
Folate – 58.2mcg – a good chunk of your daily requirement.
2. Goji Berries
Many people are just finding out how good goji berries are for your overall feeling of well-being. You’ll want to find dried goji berries, and not simply rely on a juice or other product claiming to contain goji berries in it. They make a great snack to hold you over between meals, and when compared to drinking phony energy drinks, you can get actual energy from these, and also be introducing plenty of antioxidants into your system.
Your immune system gets a dose of support when you eat a serving of goji berries, and you’ll also be helping yourself beat the onslaught of free radicals that occur as a result of a stressful environment and processed foods that don’t offer nutritional support to the body. The benefit that most of us would be interested in is the ability of goji berries to help us fight fatigue. It’s no wonder that our modern lifestyles have us burning the candle at both ends, and by eating a food like these berries you’ll be increasing the amount of time it takes you to wear out.
Nutritional Breakdown per Ounce – Dried, the most commonly found version.
Vitamin A – 170% of your daily value.
Vitamin C – 20% not quite as good as an orange, but still good.
Protein – 4g – a surprising amount of protein for a fruit.
What makes this fish so special that it stands apart from all the others? It’s the omega-3 content that does it, and of course it has the benefit that most fish has of being high in protein. Many also prefer the delicate, not-so-fishy flavor of salmon to other fish. You’ll want to stick to Alaskan wild salmon to get the full amount of benefits, and make sure that you’re not eating smoked salmon as it does not have the same nutritional benefits as freshly caught and cooked.
For those of you that are strength training, salmon will provide support to your muscle tissue with the protein it contains. The reason the omega-3s are so important is that they provide vital support to your heart and circulatory system. You’ll also receive tertiary benefits in the form of increased memory function and a decrease in the likelihood of degenerative diseases like Alzheimers. It also helps to make your skin and hair look their best.
Nutritional Breakdown per 100g – wild Alaskan, seek this out specifically.
Vitamin A – 9% of your daily needs.
Vitamin B1 – 13% of what you need each day, helps with heart health.
Protein – 20g – making this a fantastic protein source for those lifting weights.
Niacin – 42% of your daily needs, helps to keep your skin and hair tip-top.
If you’re not already a fan of avocado, you should try adding more of it into your life. It tends to be one of the more expensive items in the produce section, especially if you go the organic route. It can also be a little tricky to pick the right ones and then consume them before they go bad. But you don’t have to eat them everyday in order to benefit from them. Adding one or two a week to your diet would be a great start, and would keep costs down.
One of the most referenced benefits of avocado is their amounts of healthy monounsaturated fat. It’s interesting that this is a high-fat fruit, as most of them are very low fat or fat free. These fats actually help you to lose fat, if that’s what you’re trying to do. They also help you to feel fuller longer, and are not the same sort of fats found in a cheeseburger. The carotenoid levels help with eye health, and avocados in general will help stabilize your blood glucose levels so you don’t hit dangerous peaks and valleys.
Nutritional Breakdown per 100g – Raw
Monounsaturated fat – 10g – This means roughly 10% of the avocado is healthy fat!
Vitamin B6 – 16% of what you need daily for proper metabolism.
Folate – 22% of your daily requirement, for heart disease prevention.
Known by vegetarians for several years now, quinoa has been catching on more in the mainstream as a tasty and filling way to complement a meal, or be the foundation of a meal. Even those that follow a no wheat diet can turn to quinoa, although it doesn’t quite appeal to those that have written off grains altogether. If you’re not familiar with how to cook it you can get up to speed quickly, and it’s now readily available at most supermarkets, where once it was a bit rare.
You’re getting a quality protein without the cholesterol and fat that can come with animal sources. You’re also getting smart carbs that don’t register very highly on the Glycemic Index, so your body can process them without converting them to fat later. On top of that it doesn’t contain much fat, so you can eat this when following a weight loss plan, and it also keeps you under the limit for calories if you’re watching those.
Nutritional Breakdown per Cup
Fat – 1.9g – A low fat count and low calorie count make this a winner for dieters.
Folate – !0% of your daily requirement, good for maintaining a healthy heart.
Protein 4.4g – A relatively high protein level for a grain.
The quintessential healthy food, broccoli has often been referenced as a good side item to add to any meal to health things up. Just as long as you don’t smother it in butter or cheese it’s able to retain it’s healthy effects. Steam it up to lock in the flavor, make it easier to eat, and retain as many nutrients as possible. There are only a few buying options when it comes to broccoli, you can get it fresh from the produce aisle or find it in the frozen vegetables section. Either way, opting for organic is a great idea on this one.
The fiber in broccoli will help keep things in order, digestively speaking, and it is a good non-dairy source of calcium. The Vitamin C that one serving contains is all that you need for the day, and this will help your body stave off illnesses. The Vitamin K it has doesn’t get much press but is important if you want to keep your bones healthy. It’s great for your eyes and your heart, and can even help to keep cancer away.
Nutritional Breakdown per 100g – Raw
Vitamin C – 150% of your daily recommendation, so you’re more than covered.
Vitamin B6 – 10% of what you need to keep your metabolism strong.
Fiber – 2.6g – May not seem like a lot, but it’s a tenth of your daily needs.
Almonds provide a go anywhere snacking option that will help you to feel full between meals, and give you the energy you need to start the day. Just make sure that when you choose your almonds you’re not getting the kind that have a lot of salt or oil added like those that are dry roasted. Go for raw almonds, and don’t overeat them because since they’re crunchy and snacky it’s easy to keep munching on them.
Almonds are often mentioned by fitness instructors as a way to help feed your muscles, but they also have plenty of other benefits that makes them worthy of making it onto your daily menu. They help prevent heart attacks, and can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol produced in the body. They are a source of healthy fat, and can help your brain function better. If you weren’t on board already they also help to strengthen bones and teeth.
Nutritional Breakdown per 100g – Raw Almonds
Iron – 20% of your daily recommendation, for those with an iron deficiency.
Protein – 21g – making them good for enhancing lean muscle.
Vitamin B2 – 59% of what is needed daily, helping to give you that energetic feeling.
Beets are unique because they contain things that are good for you that are only found in beets. What you’re looking for here is the beetroot, and not necessarily the pickled beets you’ll find in jars and on Greek salads. If you’re intimidated by the thought of preparing and cooking beetroot, there are plenty of recipes online that can show you how it’s done. It’s worth the time and effort to start incorporating more beets into your diet.
The boron in beets will help put the pep back in your step, sexually speaking. You’ll also feel a general sense of having more energy. They are great for nourishing the brain as well, and can assist in lowering your blood pressure. Because of the broad amount of vitamins and minerals they contain, you can add them to smoothies to instantly up your nutrient count without adding to the calories or fat.
Nutritional Breakdown per Cup
Folate – 27% of what you need to help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Magnesium – 6% of your daily requirement to keep your energy levels up.
Vitamin C – 8% of your daily needs, use other foods on this list to get you there.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes made it to the big time when they were featured on Oprah as a superfood that was flying under the radar. What’s nice about them is that they easy to cook, with lots of wiggle room for error. They also fill you up, are brimming with vitamins, and contain fiber which is essential for the proper functioning of your digestive system. They are a nice addition to any meal, and can provide instant balance since they fall somewhere between a starch and a vegetable.
There are a wide range of benefits for sweet potatoes, but some of the highlights are that they can help to prevent a heart attack, keep your skin looking young, help you to feel relaxed, keep your immune system working well, gives you more energy, and contains antioxidants that can help reduce the amount of breakdown in your body due to free radicals. This is why they consistently make lists of superfoods and healthiest vegetables.
Nutritional Breakdown per 100g
Vitamin A – 384% – almost four times more than the daily recommendation!
Vitamin C – 33% of what you need daily of this powerful antioxidant.
Protein – 2g – a nice source of plant-based protein.
It’s well known that tomatoes are good for the body, and the more research that is done on them the more they seem to rank high on the health-o-meter. There isn’t one specific reason to eat them, because they help with so many different things. They’re also a very versatile food, you can add them fresh to a salad, cook them up into a sauce, or drop them in the blender if you’re making a fruit or vegetable smoothie. Just be careful that you don’t consider eating ketchup or pizza a way to eat more tomatoes.
The reason tomatoes get so much attention is that they help with the baddest of the baddies when it comes to health. They can help prevent cancer, and they can fight off heart disease when eaten on a regular basis. The lycopene is believed to be what’s helping to avoid cancer, and an ensemble of vitamins and minerals is responsible for helping your cardiovascular system.
Nutritional Breakdown per 100
Vitamin A – 17% of your daily requirement, an effective antioxidant
Vitamin C – 23% RDV – Helps to round out your daily intake of this essential vitamin.
Vitamin B6 – 5% of your daily needs, helps to metabolize your foods.