1. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Leafy greens are the king of the vegetable kingdom. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but low in calories. Some of the nutrients naturally found in leafy greens include vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, nitrates, lutein, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium. These nutrients help support healthy immune function, eye health, gut health, brain health, increased blood flow, reduced blood pressure, and can even help you prevent cancer. So load up on kale, collard greens, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, cabbage, and other leafy greens. Aim for a variety of leafy greens to reap the maximum amount of health benefits.
2. FATTY FISH
Fish is a very important part of a healthy diet. Fish is a major source of healthy omega-3 fats and also rich in other nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat. It has been shown that eating 1–3 small servings (3 ounces) of fatty fish a week can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent. Fatty fish has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides, and inflammation. Eating fish just 1–2 times per week may also reduce the risk of stroke, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. The best fish to eat are salmon, herring, mackeral, anchovies, and sardines.
Nuts are nutrition powerhouses, packed with good sources of fat, fiber, and protein. Certain fats common in nuts — specifically mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids — have been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, eating nuts has been shown to lower the risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Studies have shown that nut eaters live 2–3 years longer on average than people who don’t eat nuts. Nuts are also the most common snack in the blue zones — the places around the world where people live the longest. Aim to eat 2 handfuls of nuts per day — almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, or any other type of nut you enjoy. Opt for raw or dry roasted nuts for maximum health benefits (and stay away from varieties loaded with salt, sugar, or other additives).
4. EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Olive oil is a central component of the Mediterranean Diet, ranked the healthiest diet in the world. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Extra-virgin olive oil — pressed from ripe olives and processed without high heat or chemical solvents — protects the beneficial polyphenols in the oil. Consuming olive oil may help prevent strokes, protect against heart disease, fight Alzheimer’s Disease, reduce Type 2 Diabetes risk, and reduce the risk of cancer. Eat high quality extra-virgin olive oil daily to benefit your heart, brain, joints, and more.
5. DARK CHOCOLATE
Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients and one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. Dark chocolate is packed with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, as well as potassium, zinc, and selenium. Dark chocolate has been shown to have even higher levels of antioxidants — polyphenols and flavanols — than potent berries such as blueberries and acai berries. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure, normalize cholesterol, reduce heart disease risk, enhance brain function, and possibly even protect your skin from the sun. Opt for high-quality dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao. All you need is a square or two per day to reap the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and dark chocolate are the 5 most nutrient-dense foods in the world.
Make these foods a central part of your diet to achieve optimal health.
Andrew Merle writes about living well. Read more and subscribe to his email list at andrewmerle.com.