Nutrition

Most Nutrient-Dense Foods You Need To Eat

✅ Evidence Based Article

Nutrient-dense foods are crazily excellent for your well-being. They supply your body with a myriad of essential vitamins, minerals, including alkaline minerals, phytonutrients, powerful antioxidants, and other compounds that are crucially important for your health.

Eating these award-winning, nutrient-rich foods on a daily basis will ensure a longer and healthier life that each of us strives to live.

1.Avocado

This amazingly nutritious food has been a subject of many studies for several decades in a row. Countless studies have proven the astonishing health benefits of avocado.

Apart from having rich texture and flavor, avocado boasts a rich nutrient value. No wonder, it’s often considered as a superfood.

Depending on the type of avocado that varies from green to black colored and from round to pear-shaped, avocado contains up to 20 various vitamins and minerals. Moreover, it’s an excellent source of heart-healthy fats and is cholesterol -, sugar- and sodium-free.

One serving of avocado (100 grams) provides your body with 15 grams of healthy fats, 2 grams of protein, 7 grams of dietary fiber, 485 mg of potassium, 17% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin E, 15% of vitamin B6, 14% of vitamin B5, 20% of folate, 26% of vitamin K, 7% of magnesium, 3% of iron, and 2% of vitamin A.

One serving contains 160 calories. 77% of the calories come from fat, which is mainly oleic acid. Also being the key component of olive oil, oleic acid aids in chronic inflammation prevention and treatment, as well as cancer prevention.

Eating avocado regularly helps to decrease the risk of kidney failure, stroke, and heart attack. It also helps to control high blood pressure, prevent blood sugar spikes, reduce the triglyceride levels that trigger cardiovascular diseases, maintain healthy eyes, relieve arthritis symptoms, lose weight, and ward off cancer.

Related: Avocado; 15 Powerful Health Benefits

2.Legumes

Whether you’re vegetarian, or vegan, or just someone trying to boost a protein or iron intake, legumes must become your favorite weekly food.

Peas, lentils, and beans are excellent options that supply the body with 10 to 20 grams of quality plant-based protein per one cooked cup. Legumes are packed with health-promoting antioxidants, nutrients, and plant compounds, including zinc, manganese, folate, iron, slowly digested carbs, fiber.

Fermented and sprout legumes are also rich sources of probiotics, which are needed for healthy digestion.

100 grams of chickpeas, for instance, contain 17 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of protein, 25% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, 10% of calcium, 28% of magnesium, 25% of vitamin B6, 34% of iron, and 6% of vitamin C.

A cup of boiled lentils contains 18 grams protein, 16 grams dietary fiber, 20% of potassium, 17% of magnesium, 20% of vitamin B6, 36% of iron, 5% of vitamin C, and 3% calcium.

Legumes keep glucose levels at bay, improve digestion, ensure bowel regularity, aid in weight loss, maintain heart health, relieve the symptoms of PMS, treat allergies, and are recommended for pregnant women.

3.Salmon

The fatty types of fish, such as salmon, are among the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth, too. Salmon is considered to be the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids of all fish. Omega-3s are essential for many body functions.

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Multiple studies have proven that frequent consumption of omega-3s rich foods helps to reduce the risk for developing many serious diseases and conditions, including dementia, heart diseases, constipation, strokes, anxiety, depression, and others. Apart from omega-3s, salmon is over-brimming with numerous nutrients.

100 grams of salmon provides the body with 2586mg of omega-3s, 25.4 grams of protein, and 220 mg of omega-6s. It also contains a host of vitamins, such as pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin A. The minerals found in salmon are selenium, manganese, copper, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Wild salmon is more nutritious than a farmed one, so if you care about nutrients, try to find wild salmon.

4.Seaweed

If you don’t eat fish, incorporating seaweed into your weekly meal plan is truly a must. Seaweed is a great source of a mineral called iodine, which plays a critical role in producing thyroid hormones. Kelp is particularly high in iodine.

It’s also loaded with a variety of bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids and phycocyanins, as well as potent antioxidants that have astonishing anti-inflammatory properties.

100 grams of raw kelp contain vitamins like choline, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin A, and minerals like fluoride, selenium, manganese, copper, zinc, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium. It also contains 8 mg of omega-3s.

The health benefits of seaweed include blood sugar control, diabetes prevention, reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, gut health support, hunger control, weight management, and thyroid function support.

5.Kale

Kale is known for being king among all the super healthy greens. Rich in all kinds of beneficial compounds, kale boasts incredible medicinal properties. Although there are many kinds of kale, all of them are packed with a host of nutrients.

A cup of this cruciferous vegetable provides the body with 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 684% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, 6% of magnesium, 9% of potassium, 10% of copper, 9% of calcium, 26% of manganese, 9% of vitamin B6, along with small yet significant amount of phosphorus, iron, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Plus, it contains only 33 calories, making it a wonderful diet-friendly food for people trying to shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight.  Antioxidants like kaempferol and quercetin found in kale help to ward off premature aging, reduce high blood pressure, relieve the symptoms of depression, fight viruses, lower cancer risk, improve heart health, and combat inflammation.

Kale also strengthens your immune system, keeps bad cholesterol levels in control, maintains good eye health, helps to treat eye disorders, and prevents osteoporosis.

6.Blueberries

All berries are overflowing with nutrients, but blueberries definitely stand out. Even though these berries don’t have a rich vitamin and mineral contents like salmon or legumes have, blueberries are fortified with powerful antioxidants.

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A diversity of phytochemicals and anthocyanins found in blueberries have been shown to improve the brain function. Another scientific review indicated that blueberries help to enhance memory in elders.

A cup of blueberries contains 85 calories, 3.6 grams of dietary fiber, 114 mg potassium, zero fats and cholesterol, a gram of protein, 24% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 5% of vitamin B6, 2% of iron and magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. No wonder blueberries are so effective in a fight with cancer.

7.Greek yogurt

Extra-thick, creamy, and smooth, Greek yogurt is packed with calcium, potassium, and protein and is a rich source of essential probiotics. One container of plain Greek yogurt contains 17 grams of protein, 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 21% of vitamin B12, 6% of potassium, 4% of magnesium, and 5% of vitamin B6, among the others.

All these nutrients aid in improving digestion, building strong bones, and boosting the immune system. Unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt contains less watery whey and thus it’s incredibly thick. Moreover, it contains twice the protein, fewer carbs, and less sodium if compared with regular yogurt.

What makes Greek yogurt so wholesome is that it’s one of the best sources of vitamin B12, which is vital for DNA synthesis, brain functions, and red blood cells to form. It’s not easy to get this vitamin from food, especially if you don’t eat meat and fish. Including Greek yogurt in your daily diet will provide your body with this essential vitamin.

8.Mushrooms

Besides being low in fats and calories and high in nutrients, mushrooms also add a fantastic flavor to soups, stir-fries, and salads. They’re also loaded with selenium, a powerful mineral that wards off many types of cancers.

A single serving of mushrooms (100 grams) provides the body with 12 mcg of selenium. Moreover, mushrooms are the richest vegan source of vitamin D. A 3-ounce serving contains at least 400 IU of this vitamin.

Mushrooms are also packed with potassium (318 mg per 100 grams) and copper (65% of the recommended daily intake in one cup). These nutrients are essential for a proper nerve function, healthy heart rhythm, and proper production of red blood cells.

Mushrooms are plentiful in other nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin B6, iron, vitamin C, and protein.

9.Pistachio nuts

All nuts are high in nutrients, but pistachio nuts are truly nutrient-dense. Not to mention that they’re incredibly tasty. Pistachio nuts are high in healthy fats, along with vitamins, such as vitamin E, thiamin, and vitamin B6.

These nuts provide the body with 25 grams of protein, 36% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, 37% of magnesium, 104% of vitamin B6, 11% of vitamin C, 12% of calcium, 10% of vitamin A, 26% of iron, and 52% of dietary fiber – all in a single cup. The drawback is, pistachio nuts are high in calories – one cup contains about 700 calories.

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Apart from vitamins and minerals, these healthy nuts are loaded with antioxidants, which aid in preventing cell-damaging free radicals and lowering the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Pine nuts and walnuts are excellent alternatives to pistachio nuts.

10.Eggs

Eggs, particularly yolks, have got a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol, but numerous studies prove that eggs are actually good for us. A study done by the University of Connecticut showed that dietary cholesterol in eggs doesn’t contribute to the increased bad cholesterol levels.

Often called as nature’s multivitamin, whole eggs are astonishingly nutrient-dense and they offer tons of health benefits. Egg yolks, in particular, are overflowing with powerful nutrients and antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein. Not only do these antioxidants help to keep your eyes healthy, but they also decrease the risk factor for widely spread vision diseases, including macular degeneration and cataracts.

Plus, eggs are one of the richest sources of a brain nutrient called choline, which the majority of people are deficient in. Healthy fats and top quality protein make eggs a popular weight loss food. One boiled egg contains 6 grams of protein, 63 mg of potassium, 10% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D, 2% of calcium, 5% of vitamin A, 5% of vitamin B6, and 3% of iron.

11.Garlic

Known as a powerful, all-natural antibiotic, garlic deserves its place of this list, too. Garlic adds a fantastic flavor to your dishes while supplying your body with a myriad of essential nutrients.

Low in calories, garlic contains 9 grams of carbs, 1.8 grams of protein, and 0.6 grams of dietary fiber in a 1-ounce serving. Plus, it offers 15% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 17% of vitamin B6, 23% of magnesium, and 6% of selenium.

Garlic acts as a potent immune booster and helps to prevent sickness like cold and flu. Whether raw or in a form of supplements, garlic has been shown to help control high blood pressure that triggers cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack. People with high cholesterol can significantly reduce their likelihood of developing heart disease by eating garlic each day.

Thanks to its high antioxidant content, garlic alleviates oxidative damage from free radicals, preventing the development of common brain diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Garlic helps to prevent premature aging.  Moreover, garlic consumption can help your body get rid of heavy metals that tend to damage the organs and cause headaches. Garlic supplementation stops bone loss and reduces the risk of osteoarthritis.

Related: 11 Health Benefits of Including Garlic in Your Diet

Adding these nutrient-dense foods to your weekly meal plan is sure to help you improve your overall health and treat any existing diseases and conditions. However, keep in mind that moderation is still important. If you’re going to try any supplements, especially garlic supplements. Be sure you consult your doctor first as there are some serious side effects.

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