Losing weight is a struggle that a lot of people go through at some point in their lives, including me. I have often tried to follow the common formula: “exercise more and eat less”, but it has rarely given me the desired results. I have ended up being frustrated and starving each time.
What I have learned in this long process is to focus on truly improving my nutrition rather than counting the calories I intake. Our final goal should be to gain and maintain good health, not just to obtain a slim figure. In order to achieve this, we need to adopt an overall healthy lifestyle by eating food that is more nutritious.
Food is the source of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) and macronutrients that provide calories and energy for our bodies (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). We need both micronutrients and macronutrients in order for our bodies to work properly but our selection of food should be based on products that have a higher micronutrient density for the smallest amount of calories. Nutrient density means how many nutrients you get from a certain food, in relation to the number of calories it contains.
The amount of food we eat every day is limited, so we need to make the most of the nutrients we take in relation to the amount of healthy calories that are also essential for our bodies.
In this respect, I have selected 10 of the most nutrient dense plant and animal foods on the planet. Let me share them with you:
Being a visual eater, the beautiful peachy color of salmon has always attracted me.
Apart from its wonderful taste, salmon is one of the fatty types of fish that have the highest amount of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are very important for our heart and brain health, they improve our overall wellbeing and lower the risk of many diseases.
Salmon also has a high content of animal protein, as well as magnesium, potassium, selenium and the B-vitamins. These vitamins and minerals are essential for the proper functioning of our nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems.
It is recommended that we eat fatty fish at least once a week.
To be honest, I have never really liked the earthy and rough taste of kale..
It turns out that kale is a super star among the leafy vegetables and it is really worth including in our daily diet. It is simply bursting with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and bioactive, anti-cancer compounds.
It has the highest amount of vitamin K of all the healthy foods in the world: the amazing 1000 % of the recommended dietary allowance. This vitamin is essential for regulating our body’s inflammatory processes and for blood coagulation.
It also contains a high amount of carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene that play a major role in reducing oxidative stress, which is linked to many serious diseases. It has immense detoxification powers: it can even detoxify our system at genetic level, meaning that it can repair DNA damage in the cells.
Its high amounts of glucosinolates offer us tremendous anti-cancer benefits.
Kale also contains vitamins C, A and B6 in large amounts, as well as minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese.
To make the most of all its benefits, it is recommended that we consume kale raw. Chef John of Food Wishes uses raw kale in many recipes. Here is what he has said: “If you slice kale thin and toss it with other tasty treats like apple, persimmon, orange, and nuts, the kale mellows out and serves as a perfect foil for other vegetation.”
These little green cabbages are not among the most favorite children’s vegetables, but they are surely one of the healthiest.
It takes only one serving of Brussels sprouts to meet our daily needs for vitamins C and K. They are also very rich in folate, manganese, fiber and vitamin B 6. Their special antioxidant properties offer us DNA protective benefits. Brussels sprouts have a remarkably rich content of glucosinolates, compounds that protect us from cancer.
They taste great when sautéed gently in butter or even roasted. They pick up the flavor of the ingredient they are cooked in, so you can easily create a blend of sweet or savory, depending on your taste. It has taken me some time to convince my 6 year old daughter to eat them, but it was worth the effort in the end. She always helps me peel and prepare them, then we make funny food faces with the sprouts.
Mushrooms are low in calories and provide immense health benefits.
They possess very high antioxidant capacities and contain a multitude of precious nutrients.
One of them is selenium, which prevents inflammation and boosts the immune system.
Selenium also stimulates production of killer T-cells and fights against cancer.
They contain a lot of fiber, which helps lower blood glucose levels and aids in weight loss.
Potassium regulates blood pressure and decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Clams and oysters are the most common types of shellfish.
All of them are extremely nutritious. They are loaded with vitamin B 12, vitamin C, B-vitamins, potassium, selenium, iron, copper, zink and vitamin D.
They are low in calories but provide an excellent source of protein and essential amino- acids, as well as omega 3 fatty acids.
Who doesn’t like blueberries? I have never met such a person.
This precious fruits are one the best regarding the amount of antioxidants they contain.
Antioxidants protect us from the damage that free radicals can cause, as well as from DNA cell damage. In this way, they help prevent many diseases, including cancer. Latest research also shows that blueberries are powerful in protecting our cognitive function and brain health. They taste delicious baked in deserts, but we should eat them raw to use all their health benefits.
Of all the foods that exist, I find that egg yolks suppress my hunger the most and they are an excellent aid in the process of losing weight.
They are naturally very rich in nutrients that very important for our good health: they contain proteins with all 9 essential amino acids and less than 0.5 grams of carbohydrates. They contain high amounts of selenium, an immune-boosting and anti-cancer nutrient. They are a rich source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that are important for our eye health, vitamin D for the health of our bones, and brain healthy B vitamins. The list of nutrients that egg yolks contain is endless and the latest study shows that we need not worry about their cholesterol level as long as we consume them in moderation.
It is extremely beneficial despite its strong odor that many people cannot tolerate in its fresh form, including me.
It is packed with bio compounds that reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system and fight against the most powerful bacteria.
Its active compound, allicin, lowers blood pressure and the harmful cholesterol.
It is rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C. it has shown beneficial effects on more than 150 different diseases.
My friend from Norway has told me that her family lived on potatoes for months during difficult times in World War 2.
They are very rich in precious minerals: potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese and they also contain plenty of vitamin C and most of the B vitamins.
Boiled potatoes are very fulfilling and they have the highest satiety value of all the other foods, according to some studies.
Cooked potatoes are very rich in resistant starch, which is a very healthy fiber-like substance.
I have saved the best for last, at least for me!
If we talk about dark chocolate with at least 70 % cocoa content, it is also one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.
It is full of antioxidants and full of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Cocoa offers immense health benefits – it improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, reduces the bad type of cholesterol and improves brain function.
As I have a sweet tooth, I treat myself to one little square of dark chocolate almost every day and it also improves my mood immediately.