Some foods are packed with massive amounts of nutrients relative to their caloric content.
They may also contain some unique biologically active compound with powerful health benefits.
These 12 superfoods are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
1. Egg Yolks
Some people recommend that you ditch the yolks because of the cholesterol in them, but that is absolute nonsense.
The yolk is where all the nutrients reside. The white part of the egg mainly contains protein.
Therefore, ditching the yolk is just about the dumbest thing you could do.
There are very few foods even close to as nutritious as eggs. One egg contains all the nutrients necessary to grow an entire baby chicken.
Eggs are rich in:
- Protein - one large egg contains 6 grams of high quality protein with all the essential amino acids.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthine - these antioxidants are powerful protectors against eye diseases (4, 5).
- Vitamins A, B2, B5, B12 and Iron, Phosphorus, Selenium and others (6).
- Choline - Eggs are among the best dietary sources of choline, which is very important for brain health (7).
Eggs also score high on the satiety index, which is a measure of how fulfilling foods are. Studies show that eating eggs for breakfast can help you lose significant amounts of weight compared to a breakfast of bagels (8).
Eggs that are either pastured or Omega-3 enriched are the best choices.
Bottom Line: Eggs are among the most nutritious and fulfilling foods on the planet. The yolk contains almost all the nutrients, the white is mostly protein.
Garlic does more than taste good and give you a pleasant breath before a hot date.
It is also very nutritious and contains several bioactive compounds.
Many studies in humans have examined the effects of garlic on cardiovascular health:
- Garlic has been shown to lower blood triglycerides and cholesterol (9, 10).
- It can also reduce platelet aggregation, which theoretically could lower the risk of stroke (11, 12).
- One study also shows that garlic extract can significantly lower blood pressure (13).
One of the active compounds, Allicin, has also been shown to kill the super-bacteria MRSA, which is becoming an increasingly larger threat to the human race due to resistance to antibiotics (16).
You can get garlic extract from supplements, or simply add garlic to your foods. Fresh garlic is best, ditch the powder.
Bottom Line: Garlic is a very tasty herb that has been studied thoroughly for its health benefits. Several studies show that garlic can improve heart health.
Humans have been eating other animals for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years. For this reason, we have been genetically adapted to eating such foods throughout evolution.
However, our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn't just eat the muscles of the animals, like most of us do.No, they ate the organs too. Brain, kidneys, heart, bone marrow, liver and even testicles.
Organs are actually the most nutritious parts of the animal and the most nutritious of them all is the liver.
The liver is a remarkable organ that has hundreds of functions. It also concentrates many key nutrients like iron, B12 and some others. Liver is so nutritious that some people have called it nature's multivitamin.
A 100 gram (3.5 oz) portion of beef liver contains (16):
- 6.3 times the RDA for Vitamin A.
- 2 times the RDA for Riboflavin (B2).
- 12 times the RDA for Vitamin B12.
- 7 times the RDA for copper.
- It also contains massive amounts of other nutrients like Folate, B3, B5, B6 and others.
If you want to eat like a true hunter-gatherer, then you should eat some organ meats. Just one meal per week with liver will dramatically boost your average intake of many key nutrients.
Bottom Line: Humans adapted to eating plenty of animals and that includes organ meats like liver. Eating liver once per week will dramatically boost your intake of key nutrients.
Kale is arguably among the most nutritious vegetables you can eat, calorie for calorie.
A 100 gram serving of Kale contains only 50 calories and 10 gram carbs (2 of which are fiber).
It contains 10 times the RDA of Vitamin K1, 2 times the RDA for Vitamin C and 3 times the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-Carotene).
It is also rich in Calcium and Potassium (17).
Kale may be even better for you than Spinach, because Spinach contains Oxalates, which can bind some minerals like Calcium in the intestine and prevent them from being absorbed (20).
Bottom Line: Kale is among the most nutritious vegetables you can eat, containing an incredible amount of nutrients compared to its caloric value.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the best cooking oil you can use.
It consists almost entirely of saturated fats, which makes it very resistant to high heat.
Most of the fatty acids in it are of medium length, so-called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).
The most abundant fatty acid in coconut oil is the 12-carbon lauric acid.
Additionally, the Lauric Acid has been proven to have antimicrobial properties and is an efficient killer of pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi (24).
Bottom Line: Coconut oil is the best choice for cooking at high heats. It also has powerful health benefits and may help you lose weight compared to other fats.
6. Sweet Potato
I don't always eat starch, but when I do... my favorite is without a doubt the sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are very nutritious and rich in some key nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium.
They are also relatively rich in fiber, a 100 gram serving supplying about 3 grams.
If you want to eat carbs, then you should definitely stick to healthier ones like sweet potatoes.
Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes are without a doubt among the healthiest starchy foods around.
Blueberries are incredibly tasty and fairly nutrient rich compared to their caloric value.
Where blueberries really shine is in their antioxidant content. The ORAC, a measure of the antioxidant value of food, places blueberries close to the top.
One study in obese men and women with metabolic syndrome showed that blueberries significantly lowered blood pressure and markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol (27).
Another study in older adults showed that blueberries can improve memory (28).
They are also relatively low in carbohydrates, which makes them the perfect fruit for people on low-carb diets (Blueberries + Whipped Cream = Awesome).
Bottom Line: Blueberries are very rich in antioxidants and have a relatively low carb content which makes them perfect for people on carb-restricted diets.
Iodine is a nutrient that is very often lacking in modern diets (31).
This nutrient is crucial for thyroid health and the thyroid is very important for the health of the rest of the body.
A deficiency in iodine can lead to hypothyroidism, fatigue, mental retardation and many diseases.
Unfortunately, most of the foods we eat today are relatively low in iodine. However, a lot of iodine is concentrated in the sea and seafoods are excellent sources of this nutrient.
A great way to make sure you don't lack iodine is to eat some seaweed once or twice a week. It's actually very tasty. As an alternative, you can supplement with Kelp tablets, which are relatively cheap and supply all the iodine you need.
Bottom Line: Seaweed is an excellent source of Iodine, a nutrient that is lacking in the modern diet and is incredibly important for thyroid health.
Salmon is one of the "fatty" fishes - meaning that it contains a large proportion of calories as fat.
These fats are primarily Omega-3 fatty acids, which most people don't get enough of.
Eating oily fish like salmon 1-2 times per week pretty much satisfies your body's need for Omega-3 fats.
Additionally, salmon is very rich in high quality proteins and many nutrients. These include Potassium, Selenium, Vitamins B1, B3, B6 and B12.
I personally find salmon (and other fish) to be incredibly fulfilling. I feel stuffed even though I've only eaten half as many calories as I would have in a regular meal.
If you can get it, wild salmon is best. Otherwise, farmed salmon is a cheaper alternative but still very healthy.
Bottom Line: Salmon is very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients. It is a good idea to eat fatty fish once or twice a week.
10. Cod Fish Liver Oil
The easiest way to add Omega-3s to your diet is to supplement with fish oil.
The best fish oil is cod fish liver oil.
A tablespoon of it contains a total of 2,6g Omega-3 fatty acids, which is more than the recommended daily intake (34).
It is also the only good source of Vitamin D3 in the diet.
One tablespoon actually supplies 1350 IU, which is more than double the RDA. This may be enough to prevent deficiency symptoms for most people.
Many people in Western countries, especially those who live in Northern climates, are deficient in this vitamin. A deficiency in D3 can have various consequences, including an elevated risk of cancer and diabetes (35, 36).
Cod fish liver oil is also very rich in Vitamin A, one tablespoon supplying 13500 IU or almost triple the RDA.
If you don't eat much Omega-3 from animal foods, then consider supplementing with a tablespoon of cod fish liver oil every day.
Bottom Line: Cod fish liver oil is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A.
11. Grass-fed beef
Despite having been demonized in the past, meat is actually very healthy.
Humans have been eating meat throughout evolution... and we're literally made of meat.
Despite the fear mongering, studies show that unprocessed red meat does NOT raise your risk of disease (37).
Meat is among the best sources of protein, it is rich in healthy fatty acids and plenty of vitamins and minerals. It is also a good source of creatine, carnosine and carnitine, as well as other unique nutrients that you can't get from plants.
If you can, it is by far the best to eat meat from animals that have been naturally fed, such as grass-fed beef.
If you can't buy grass-fed for some reason, eating grain-fed meat is still a healthy alternative.