Laura Holland identifies the seven most nutrient-dense foods in the world
Time is of the essence, in every aspect of life, including our health. Anything that takes too much time is either removed or rescheduled, and eating nutritiously has a tendency to fall off the to-do list more often than any of us would prefer.
For time-strapped health conscious types, the key is to eat foods that offer the most amount of nutrients in the smallest package; preferably items that do not require too much effort to find and prepare. Discovering what has the most nutrition, then concentrating our efforts on including these foods in our daily diets, is a time-efficient way of tending to the nutritional requirements of our body.
Dr Joel Fuhrman, a specialist in nutrition and best-selling author, has created something called the Andi score – Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. This is a scale from 1 to 1,000 based on the nutrition content of a food calculated by micronutrients per calorie.
Kale, collard greens, mustard greens and watercress all receive the highest score of 1,000, followed by other leafy greens and vegetables. The first fruit featured is the tomato, coming in at 186, followed by the strawberry at 182 and then the blueberry at 132. Pasta, french fries and corn chips score a very low 16, 12 and 7 points, respectively.
You can see there is a huge drop in nutrition from vegetables to fruit. Incidentally, vegetables tend to be the most undereaten of all food categories. Therefore, increasing our intake of leafy greens would prove incredibly effective.
While the Andi score provides great insights into what we should eat, critics point out that no superfoods are covered in the analysis and there is also no appreciation for the benefits of some nutrients compared to others.
To find the best of the best, we need to combine Fuhrman’s Andi scale with the latest nutrition research, as documented in Natural News. So here is the Top 7 and how to eat them, quickly!
The protein queen is brimming with magnesium, calcium, iron, antioxidants, B vitamins and other phytonutrients that are easy for your body to absorb, which is what gives spirulina its nutrition magic.
Add one teaspoon of spirulina powder to water, juices or smoothies and drink daily.
Kale is the new beef and it’s your new best friend. It has more iron than beef by weight, with an abundance of minerals and detoxifying phytonutrients. Its dark green colour gives its nutritional status away. The goodness inside those leaves is worth getting that juicer out. Add to salads or juice with apple, lime and cucumber.
Cacao has the highest Orac (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) rating of all foods, meaning it is the most potent antioxidant to keep your entire system healthy. It also has one of the richest contents of magnesium. Eat raw chocolate. Cacao powder does taste great when added to smoothies, too.
Chia means strength in Mayan and this is certainly apt. These tiny, protein-dense seeds have more Omega 3 than flaxseeds and are at the top of the tree for fatty acids. Their fibre content aids your digestion and they are also full of minerals and vitamins. Sprinkle over fruit and salads or make a chia dessert with almond milk, cacao powder, agave nectar and freshly shredded coconut.
This seed is known to have the perfect ratio of fatty acids Omega 3, 6 and 9 for the human body. Given that omegas are crucial for the body’s proper functioning and optimal health, these seeds provide seriously good nutrition. The seeds themselves make a great addition to muesli and fruit; otherwise you can use the oil as a salad dressing or add to smoothies.
6. Noni juice
Noni juice is part of the Hawaiian culture and used in the traditional medicine of Polynesia. It is derived from the fruit of the Morinda Citrifolia tree, also known as “painkiller and headache tree”. Its medicinal qualities are well-documented, perhaps due to its high antioxidant content, which is said to be even higher than grape seed extract. This is a real beauty and health tonic, stimulating digestion, boosting immunity, a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer food. Drink this juice in the morning or add to your regular juices and smoothies.
7. Aloe vera juice
This plant is said to contain over 200 active components, including all kinds of nutrients, and has stood the test of time, being used for more than 5,000 years therapeutically. One of its most beautiful qualities is that it is an adaptogen, meaning that aloe vera boosts the body’s natural ability to adapt to external changes and resist illness. Again, drink the juice in the morning or add to your smoothie or veggie juice.