- Travel to Eat: The Top 10 Healthiest Cuisines
- 1. Greek
- 2. Japanese
- 3. Mexican
- 4. Korean
- 5. Thai
- 6. Spanish
- 7. Italian
- 8. Indian
- 9. French
- 10. Lebanese
- 8 Healthiest Cultures with the Best Food in the World
- 1. Greece
- 2. Sweden
- 3. Israel
- 4. Japan
- 5. Spain
- 6. India
- 7. Russia
- 8. Ethiopia
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Travel to Eat: The Top 10 Healthiest Cuisines
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Across the world, people chow down on delicious eats without compromising their bodies. That’s because many local cuisines rely on natural and unprocessed ingredients, and time-tested preparation methods.
Read on to learn which countries are putting health first. Then hit up an authentic restaurant, buy a good cookbook, or start planning your own gastronomic vacation.
Greek food offers up most of the ingredients that make other Mediterranean region cuisines so healthy. In fact, the popular Mediterranean diet actually originated on the Greek island of Crete, says pediatric nutritionist and dietician Keith Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., F.A.D.A., an associate clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. According to research, Cretans have a high life expectancy and lower risk of heart disease largely because of the food they eat.
“This diet has lots of olive oil, not much meat, is big on yogurt and lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, and nuts,” Ayoob says. You’ll want to look for the freshest, simplest dishes, such as grilled fish, souvlaki, and louvi (black-eyed bean salad). Avoid too many high-fat dishes, such as spanakopita (spinach pie), baklava, and moussaka.
And you don’t have to book a flight to Greece or Cyprus to get it. Greek food is getting easier to find in the United States, and Chicago boasts its own famous Greektown.
Learn More About the Mediterranean Diet “
The Japanese diet is rich in seafood and fresh vegetables. And because of that, people on the Japanese island of Okinawa have some of the lowest rates of chronic disease, as well as the longest life span, in the world.
“The cuisine of Japan is generally considered to be healthy, with loads of vegetables and seafood in healthy preparations, such as a light steam or a quick stir-fry,” explains Marci Clow, M.S., R.D.N., a senior nutritionist at Rainbow Light. “Not to mention, uncooked sea vegetables, edamame, and raw fish.”
“On the unhealthier side, watch out for fried tempura, oily noodle dishes, and white rice.”
Maybe not so much the burritos and drive-thru staples, but traditional Mexican food can definitely be healthy.
“Beans are big here, so is fruit, so fiber plays a role in this cuisine,” says Ayoob, who adds that beans are “among the healthiest foods.”
Steer clear of fried foods like flautas and chimichangas, and go light on dishes with heavy cheese and sour cream, as well as the nachos and chips. Authenticity is key here, as you’ll find plenty of vegetable-heavy dishes prepared in a healthy manner if you’re discerning about your choice of restaurant.
Korean food is getting more and more popular in the United States, which is great news for fans of delicious, healthy new dishes. Among the healthiest in Korean cuisine is kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish. It’s considered a probiotic, and thanks to healthful ingredients like ginger, red pepper, garlic, and various vegetables, it has anti-cancer, anti-obesity, and cholesterol-lowering properties.
“Tons of vegetables here, not much fat, very big on rice and steamed foods,” says Ayoob, who notes that eating like a Korean may be more than just dining on Korean foods. “Culturally, this cuisine isn’t known for lots of snacking; it’s more of a meal-oriented focus on food.”
Because fermentation is big here, watch out for high-sodium foods.
Thai food is filled with intense flavors and doesn’t depend so much on fats and meats. Among the spices and flavors that make Thai a stand out are turmeric, coriander, ginger, lemongrass, and chili peppers.
Opt for dishes that include seafood and lightly cooked vegetables. Skip the fried spring rolls and fried rice, and only indulge in coconut milk dishes on occasion.
Learn More: Turmeric’s Antioxidant Potential “
Spain is another Mediterranean country where healthy eating is a top priority. Fresh seafood and vegetables are common here, as is a style of eating that is rapidly gaining popularity around the world – tapas.
“Spain is famous for its tapas, or small plates, giving Spain kudos for one of the only countries with an attempt at portion control,” says Clow.
Tapas make it easy to try dishes that may be unhealthy as a full portion. Clow suggests ordering options like deep-fried squid and Spanish chorizo as tapas plates to share, and ordering a big salad to help fill you up.
We’re not talking about that deep dish pizza and calzone stuffed with extra cheese here, but the Italian cuisine that focuses on olive oil, fresh tomatoes and herbs, and slow enjoyment of a meal with friends.
“Traditional Italian cuisine shies away from processed foods and features lots of fresh foods including beans, fish, grains, olive oil, seafood, fruits, and vegetables,” says Clow. Add in an occasional glass of heart-healthy red wine, and you’ll see why Italians are celebrated for their cuisine.
Indian food is packed with flavor, and while many traditional dishes are over-the-top spicy for the average Western palate, they aren’t all so daring.
“Much of this cuisine is very spicy, but not necessarily hot, just flavorful,” says Ayoob, adding that many of the spices used in Indian cuisine are great sources of antioxidants. And an added bonus for vegetarians: Many Indian dishes are vegetarian-friendly.
Watch out for too much ghee, or clarified butter, in your traditional Indian dishes. Fried samosas, kormas, and curry dishes with coconut milk are some other, less healthy options.
French cuisine sometimes gets a bad rap, as some dishes can be rather indulgent. But Clow says that isn’t true across the board.
“The foods from different regions vary greatly,” she notes. “The Provence region, for example, uses more olive oils, tomatoes, and herbs, whereas in Normandy, you may find more crème fraiche and butter.”
And like many countries on our list, it isn’t just the menu items that make French cuisine healthy.
“The thing about food and the French is that they not only savor good quality food and focus on local ingredients, but they tend to have a healthy or mindful attitude toward food,” says Clow.
The cuisine in Lebanon has much in common with Greek eating, according to Ayoob. It also shares similarities with the food in neighbors like Syria, and is the home base of the world’s favorite healthy dip option: hummus.
While there are also some high-fat options — mainly those that are lamb-based or feature butter — ordering a meze will present a host of healthful options, like potato-garlic dip, eggplant dip, beans, salads, and grilled meats.
“Lots of small dishes often make up a meal here, like hummus, tabbouleh, pita bread, and cheese — traditionally sheep’s milk cheese,” says Ayoob. “So, in restaurants, going for a meal of appetizers is often good.”
Eating healthy doesn’t only have to be having salads and grilled chicken. Expand your palate by going global.
The world is full of cultures and foods, and people say one of the best ways to travel is by trying different cuisines. It can, however, be overwhelming figuring out which cuisine helps us stay in line with our healthy eating while also offering variety. While we already made a list of the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, this list compiles the top 10 healthiest world cuisines and foods you can find globally, showcasing the healthy variety of new and tasty foods to introduce into your diet:
- Japanese – Japanese culture tends to eat well in small portions with colorful vegetables. The cuisine involves a lot of green vegetables such as cabbage, negi (green onion), and nasu (eggplant). As a culture, the Japanese strive to eat very healthy and using seasonal ingredients and flavors. When preparing their meals, the Japanese carefully select which ingredients are in season; during springtime, for example, they will include a variety of bitter vegetables and or/seasonings. When eating, they tend to have a variety of light condiments with their meals such as wasabi, soy sauce, miso soup, and tsukemono (pickles). Most Japanese also drink green tea with their meals, which is loaded with antioxidants.
- South Mediterranean (Italian and Greek) – Most of the dishes are rich in olive oil, which has been shown to be great for heart health. The Mediterranean diet is a great way to decrease any inflammation in the body caused by diseases while also being a good way to lose weight since it’s loaded with good saturated fats, vegetables, which bolster health and metabolism. An example of a simple and healthy Mediterranean dish would be a Greek salad or lemon basil shrimp (whole wheat) pasta.
- Indian – Indian food is high in both grains and fiber. Their cuisine incorporated the healthy fat found in legumes in addition to many health boosting spices and herbs that lower blood pressure and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. One popular and healthy dish is Lobhia, and consists of black-eyed beans covered in a tomato sauce with tons of herbs and spices. Another popular dish is chicken masala which is chicken, chili, yogurt which provides a good probiotic, ginger, onion, and garlic. To make your Indian food even healthier, just stay away from eating too much white rice, and opt instead for a healthier whole grain.
- Korean – Korean cuisine includes a variety of great healthy vegetables. One of their main dishes Kimchi contains cabbage, radish, and ginger; it is also fermented and loaded with probiotics for better gut health. Korean basic seasonings are the healthy combination of red pepper, green onion, bean paste, garlic, ginger, sesame, and vinegar. Similar to the Japanese food culture, Korean cuisine has a variety of light and healthy side dishes during each meal, such as miso soup, kimchi, steamed vegetables covered in chili paste. Most Koreans eat a vegetable with every meal.
- Ethiopian – Ethiopian cuisine is made up of grains, spicy peppers, lentils, cabbage, kale, tomato, lamb, and eggs. As a whole, Ethiopians do not consume pork. One popularly healthy Ethiopian food is called injera, which is a bread very high in both fiber/protein. Another dish is lentil edamame soup, high in fiber content which is great for dietary purposes such as irregular bowel incontinence.
- Nordic Scandinavian – The Scandinavian diet is rated as one of the healthiest diets in the world. In Sweden, the rate of obesity falls below 10% and neighboring Scandinavian countries fall within the same percentage range. The Scandinavian diet is quite simple and often people cook it from home and from scratch. Danish cuisine is highly nutritional in foods that are enriched in vitamins, minerals, proteins, poultry, and fish. They include fish like Herring and Salmon into their meals which are high in Omega-3s. The Scandinavian diet also includes a lot of cabbage, root vegetables such as carrot or beet. They tend to include whole-grain rye bread into their diets, and eat a plethora of Brussels sprouts which are high in vitamin C and K. Berries such as lingonberries and cloudberries are popular and often eaten as dessert. Most of their dishes include spices/herbs like chives, thyme, cardamom, and parsley.
- Vietnamese – Most Vietnamese cuisine is low in fat, containing a variety of vitamin-enriched vegetables in dishes such as Pho, a soup jam-packed with flavorful vegetables with your choice of either pork, beef, or chicken. After lunch or dinner, rather than a heavy pastry, fruit is usually presented as desert. There are many exotic and super healthy varieties, such as “fruit of paradise” known as the fruit with the highest concentration in vitamin A. Studies have also found that it may contain more lycopene than tomatoes.
- Thai – Thai cuisine is typically low in saturated fat. Many dishes are high in fiber and protein, consisting of tofu, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and carrots. Also it is cooked with lean meats. Authentic Thai food is usually a far cry from what is depicted in Western restaurants and is usually made with fresh vegetables and produce. Thai cuisine is a mixture of healthy spices, sweetness, and tanginess which brings out all of the flavors. Thai cuisine is usually cooked with coconut oil/coconut milk and is usually very spicy, increasing metabolism.
- Spanish – Spanish cuisine includes a lot of dried fruits and nuts, which are high in fiber content. Like the French, wine is a big part of their diet. Known for their small dishes called tapas, they consume a lot of olive oil, sardines, chickpeas, and chicken in their meals. In Spanish culture, it is common to take a siesta (nap) daily, improving sleep hours, and therefore also improving overall health.
- West African – Countries like Nigeria, Liberia, Mali, and Guinea are entering the conversation of the healthiest cuisines. They introduce lean meats, vegetables such as okra, swiss chard, bell peppers, legumes, and cabbage into many of their dishes. Yam is high in potassium, vitamin c, and manganese. Plantains are high in fiber and vitamin A. One popular West African dish is vegetable stew, which contains nuts and spices like raisins, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and cinnamon.
8 Healthiest Cultures with the Best Food in the World
Think it’s possible for the best-tasting food to come from some of the healthiest cultures? You might be surprised. We can learn from the healthiest cultures to make their best tasting food in the comfort of our own kitchen! If ingredients are hard to find, you’ll have to plan a visit to try some of the nutrient-packed, best food in the world. Ranked in no particular order, here are some of the healthiest cultures with the yummiest dishes:
Ever heard of the Mediterranean diet? It’s a traditional diet that stems from Greek and Italian foods from the 1960s. The diet mainly consists of fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Such dietary habits reveal a reduced risk in strokes, heart attacks, certain chronic diseases, and depression.
Some amazingly delicious and nutritious dishes from Greece include hummus, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and melitzanosalata (eggplant salad).
Sweden is one of the healthiest cultures in the world with some of the best-tasting food. Likewise, it also maintains an unrivaled healthcare system. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic Diet emphasizes seasonal, local foods such as herring, bilberries (cousin of blueberries), and rapeseed oil (canola). Swedes love their bread and potatoes, and they traditionally indulge on sweets every Saturday. Similar diets are also found in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland.
Following such a Swedish diet can be difficult for those outside the Nordic regions, so you should visit the country to try the best Swedish meals.
Israelis love their salad. With tomatoes and lettuce as local favorites, it’s no question why salads are so prevalent in Israel. Another sister to the Mediterranean diet, Israeli food focuses on legumes, eggplants, and olive oil. Traditional meals in Israel include spices such as mint and tahini that add nutritional value to every meal. Israeli food is excellent on the digestive system because of high levels of vitamins and minerals.
Some tasty and healthy dishes from Israel include falafel, shakshouka (poached eggs), and shawarma (similar to a gyro).
As an island nation, Japan thrives on the seafood market to cook some of the best food in the world. Citizens eat lighter foods such as veggies, soybeans, and fish mixed with broths, rice, or noodles. Opting for fresh or fermented foods, the Japanese eat few refined foods and sugars. Such a diet marks Japan as one of the healthiest cultures in the world.
Some authentic and healthy dishes you should try while visiting Japan include miso soup, soba noodle bowls, and their legendary sushi.
High in fiber and low in fat, the Spanish diet incorporates plenty of beans, veggies, fish, crustaceans, and olive oil. These foods balance omega-3s and carbohydrates in a savory, weight-loss blend. Smaller portions packed with cancer-fighting nutrients and antitoxins make authentic Spanish meals incredibly healthy for you.
A few noteworthy and nutritious Spanish meals include seafood paella and gazpacho. Each is easy to cook from your home kitchen!
You may be surprised to find Indian food on this list, but authentic Indian food is incredibly healthy. Western cultures have botched the nutritional value of Indian food by deep frying and smothering dishes with creams. Contrastly, traditional Indian spices add tasty flavors packed with essential amino acids and nutrients.
Authentic Indian curry is magical, making it part of the best food in the world. It’s the crown of Indian dishes with impeccable health benefits such as reducing inflammation, aiding digestion, and controlling blood sugar levels.
If you visit Russia, you need to taste their national spin on buckwheat groats known as Kasha. It’s similar to oatmeal, though it’s boosted with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and an insane amount of antitoxins to help reduce blood pressure. Kasha is high in protein, so it keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Other healthy Russian foods you should try include borsch (beet and beef soup), cabbage rolls, and sauerkraut.
Bonus tip: Contrary to the name, buckwheat doesn’t actually contain wheat, which makes it an excellent food for the gluten-free traveler!
Ethiopian food has a unique, spicy flavor as locals season their dishes with hot peppers and berbere powder. Their diet is dense in nutrients and low in fat, revolving around teff (an ancient, gluten-free grain), lentils, and a variety of vegetables. It’s a vegetarian’s paradise. Ethiopians also consume large amounts of milk and honey, which provide calcium and antitoxins, respectfully.
Try their gluten-free injera (sourdough flatbread) and split pea stew for some traditional, Ethiopian dishes.
There you have it! The best food in the world can indeed come from the healthiest cultures. Is there a country we missed? What ethnic food from the world’s healthiest cultures would you include? Share your favorite, best-tasting food from a destination you visited.
Check out our other resources for the traveling foodie:
- This is Why European Food Tastes Better: a Healthy Comparison
- Travel Survival Guide for the Gluten Free
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- Sesame Bar
- Tropical Banana Treat
What are the most healthful foods?
This article lists the 15 foods that sources and studies across the United States and Western Europe deem the most healthful.
It is vital to have awareness of the most healthful foods to ensure a wide a range of nutrients in the diet.
A balanced diet is the secret to healthful eating. This article will cover the 15 most healthful foods and their benefits.
Nuts, pulses, and grains
Share on PinterestA healthful diet can help ensure that the body gets all the nutrients it needs.
Nuts, pulses, and grains are all highly nutritious. The following are some of the most healthful:
Almonds provide plenty of nutrients, including:
- vitamin E
One 2019 meta-analysis found that consuming almonds significantly reduced total cholesterol levels.
2. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are some of the most healthful nuts available.
They are an excellent source of both protein and carbohydrates, and they also provide good amounts of vitamin B-1, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.
Brazil nuts also contain more selenium than many other foods. Selenium is a vital mineral for maintaining thyroid function, and it is a great antioxidant for the human body.
These nuts come in a hard shell and are usually available ready to eat, making them a quick, nutritious snack.
Learn more about Brazil nuts here.
A lentil is a pulse that features prominently in many food cultures around the world, including those of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
Lentils provide good amounts of fiber, magnesium, and potassium.
They tend to require a long cooking time. However, manufacturers can sprout the seeds, making them a delicious, healthful, ready-to-eat snack.
Adding a container of sprouted lentils to a lunchbox or picnic basket, perhaps with some chili powder or pepper for flavoring, makes for a delicious and healthful snack.
Learn more about the health benefits of lentils here.
Interest in oatmeal has increased considerably during the past 20 years because of its health benefits.
In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed that foods with high levels of rolled oats or oat bran could include data on the label about their cardiovascular health benefits as part of a low fat diet. This led to a surge in oatmeal’s popularity.
Research has found that the cereal’s soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
Oats contain complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fiber. These slow down digestion and help stabilize levels of blood glucose. Oatmeal is also a good source of folate and potassium.
People can make oatmeal from rolled or ground oats. Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.
5. Wheat germ
Wheat germ is the part of wheat that grows into a plant. It is essentially the embryo of a seed. Germ, along with bran, is a byproduct of milling. Refining cereals often removes the germ and bran content.
Whole grain products, however, still contain the germ and bran. This makes them a more healthful choice.
Wheat germ is high in several vital nutrients, including:
- vitamin E
- folic acid
- fatty alcohols
- essential fatty acids
Fruits, vegetables, and berries
Fruits, vegetables, and berries are easy to incorporate into the diet. The following are some of the most healthful:
Broccoli provides good amounts of fiber, calcium, potassium, folate, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds that reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Broccoli also provides essential antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. In fact, a single half-cup serving of broccoli can provide around 85% of a person’s daily vitamin C value.
Another compound in broccoli, called sulforaphane, may have anticancer and anti-inflammatory qualities, according to one 2019 study.
However, overcooking broccoli can destroy many of its key nutrients. For this reason, it is best to eat it raw or lightly steamed.
Learn more about the nutritional impact of broccoli here.
Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, which combat free radicals. Free radicals are damaging substances that the body generates. They cause undesirable changes in the body and may contribute to chronic conditions, as well as the aging process.
However, some studies have suggested that an antioxidant in apples might extend a person’s life span and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Learn more about apples here.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that offers a wide range of different nutrients. For example, this powerfully nutritious plant is an excellent source of vitamins C and K.
People can cook or steam kale. They can also blend it into smoothies or juices for a nutritional kick.
Learn more about how to include kale in the diet here.
Blueberries provide substantial amounts of fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Unlike minerals and vitamins, phytonutrients are not essential for survival. However, they may help prevent disease and maintain vital bodily functions.
In a 2019 review of 16 studies, the authors suggest that consuming blueberries may help protect against cognitive decline, which may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that blueberries might help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Another 2019 study, this time in mice, found that blueberry polyphenols reduced obesity and certain metabolic risk factors. They also improved the composition of gut bacteria.
According to a 2015 clinical trial, eating 22 grams of freeze dried blueberries every day for 8 weeks led to a significant decrease in blood pressure among women with stage 1 hypertension.
Discover the nutritional power of blueberries.
Some people avoid consuming avocados due to their high fat content. However, avocados provide healthful fats, as well as B vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Avocados are also a good source of fiber.
In one 2018 review of studies, avocados increased levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol. This type of cholesterol removes more harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Avocados might also have anticancer properties. A 2019 test tube study of avocados showed that colored avocado seed extract reduced the viability of breast, colon, and prostate cancer cells. However, the study did not indicate whether or not the effects would be the same in humans.
Avocados may also have associations with improved nutrient absorption, better overall diet, and fewer metabolic risk factors, according to one 2013 study.
Avocados are highly nutritious and very filling. Learn more about them here.
11. Leafy green vegetables
One 2019 study in rats showed that consuming leafy greens for 6 weeks led to a significant reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.
Spinach is an example of a leafy green with antioxidant content, especially when it is raw, steamed, or very lightly boiled. It is a good source of the following nutrients:
- vitamins A, B-6, C, E, and K
Learn about the many benefits of spinach here.
12. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and potassium.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes with that of several other vegetables.
Sweet potatoes ranked number one for their vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, and complex carbohydrate content.
Fish, meat, and eggs
When it comes to fish, meat, and eggs, many healthful options are available. For example:
13. Oily fish
Some examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies. These types of fish have oil in their tissues and around their gut.
Their lean fillets contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These oils may provide benefits for the heart and nervous system, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
The ODS also suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. They are also plentiful in vitamins A and D.
One 2014 study suggested that fatty acids can significantly reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Chicken is a cost effective and healthful meat. Free-range chicken serves as an excellent source of protein.
However, it is important to remember that preparation and cooking methods affect how healthful chicken is. This means that people should limit their intake of deep-fried chicken and always remove the skin before consumption. Chicken skin has high levels of saturated fat.
Eggs are another source of protein that people can easily incorporate into a balanced diet, as they are highly versatile.
Eggs contain vitamins including B-2 and B-12, both of which are important for preserving energy and generating red blood cells. Eggs are also a good source of the essential amino acid leucine, which plays a role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Eggs also provide a good amount of choline, which is important for cell membranes.
The yolk contains most of the egg’s vitamins and minerals, as well as the fat and cholesterol. However, one 2017 review found that eating up to seven eggs per week does not increase the risk of heart disease. That said, the authors mention that people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes should seek medical consultation about including eggs in the diet.
Indeed, one study found higher rates of cardiovascular disease in people who consumed more cholesterol from eggs.
Consuming fat in moderate amounts is healthful as part of a balanced, nutritious diet.
Learn more about eggs here.
Balance and moderation
Including these 15 foods in the diet can provide notable health benefits. However, it is important for people to have a balanced diet that does not focus on one specific type of food.
People should remember that having an occasional treat is not going to be harmful to overall health, as long as they ensure a regular and varied intake of nutrients.
I want to follow a vegan diet. Can I still obtain all the healthful proteins I need?
People who follow a vegan diet can obtain healthful proteins from plant sources, but not all plant sources contain all of the essential amino acids that animal sources of protein do.
Therefore, pairing certain plant foods together is important to ensure that the person consumes all of the essential amino acids they need. Quinoa and tofu contain all essential amino acids.
Beans and rice, hummus and pita, and whole grain bread with peanut butter are examples of pairs of plant-based foods that provide all the essential amino acids.
Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Eating healthy does not have to be boring. There are massive amounts of food that are both healthy and tasty.
Here are the 50 healthiest foods on Earth. Most of them are surprisingly delicious.
Calorie for calorie, vegetables are among the world’s most concentrated sources of nutrients. There is a wide variety available, and it is best to eat many different types of vegetables every day. Photo credit:
1-6: Fruits and Berries
Fruits and berries are among the world’s most popular health foods.
This is not surprising, given that they taste incredible. Fruits are also very easy to incorporate into the diet, because they require little to no preparation.
The apple is high in fiber, vitamin C and numerous antioxidants. Apples are very fulfilling, and perfect as snacks if you find yourself hungry between meals.
Avocados are different than most fruits, because they are loaded with healthy fats instead of carbs. They are creamy, tasty and high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Bananas are among the world’s best sources of potassium. They are also high in vitamin B6 and fiber. Bananas are ridiculously convenient and portable.
Blueberries are not only delicious, but also among the most powerful sources of antioxidants in the world.
Oranges are well known for their vitamin C content. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants and taste incredible.
Strawberries are highly nutritious, and are low in both carbs and calories.
They are loaded with vitamin C, fiber and manganese, and are arguably among the most delicious foods in existence.
Other Healthy Fruits
There are many other healthy fruits and berries that aren’t listed here.
Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.
They were previously demonized for being high in cholesterol, but new studies have shown that they are perfectly safe and healthy (1, 2).
It is a myth that meat is harmful. Unprocessed, gently cooked meat is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods you can eat.
8. Lean Beef
Lean beef is among the best sources of protein in existence, and loaded with highly bioavailable iron. Choosing the fatty cuts is fine if you’re on a low carb diet.
9. Chicken Breasts
Chicken breast is low in fat and calories, but extremely high in protein. It is a great source of many nutrients. Again, feel free to eat fattier cuts of chicken if you’re not eating that many carbs.
Lambs are usually grass-fed, and their meat tends to be high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
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11-16: Nuts, Seeds and Peanuts
Despite being high in fat and calories, studies suggest that nuts and seeds can help you lose weight (3, 4).
These foods are crunchy, fulfilling and loaded with important nutrients that many people don’t get enough of, including magnesium and vitamin E.
They also require zero preparation, which is important because it makes it easier to incorporate them into the diet.
The almond is a popular type of nut. It is loaded with vitamin E, antioxidants, magnesium and fiber. Studies show that almonds can help you lose weight, and provide impressive benefits for metabolic health (5).
12. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. A single ounce (28 grams) contains 11 grams of fiber, and a large part of the recommended intake for magnesium, manganese, calcium and various other nutrients.
Coconuts are loaded with fiber and powerful fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides.
14. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are very tasty. They are much higher in monounsaturated fats, and lower in Omega-6 fatty acids, than most other nuts.
Walnuts are highly nutritious and loaded with fiber and all sorts of vitamins and minerals.
Peanuts (technically legumes, not nuts) are incredibly tasty and high in nutrients and antioxidants. Several studies show that peanuts can help you lose weight (6, 7).
However, take it easy on the peanut butter. It is very high in calories and incredibly easy to eat excessive amounts of it.
Calorie for calorie, vegetables are among the world’s most concentrated sources of nutrients.
There is a wide variety available, and it is best to eat many different types of vegetables every day.
Asparagus is a popular vegetable. It is low in both carbs and calories, but loaded with vitamin K.
18. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers come in several colors, including red, yellow and green. They are crunchy and taste very sweet, and are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that tastes great both raw and cooked. It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C, and contains a decent amount of protein compared to other vegetables.
The carrot is a popular root vegetable. It is extremely tasty and crunchy, and loaded with nutrients like fiber and vitamin K. Carrots are also very high in carotene antioxidants, which have numerous benefits.
Cauliflower is a very versatile cruciferous vegetable. It can be used to make all sorts of healthy recipes, and also tastes pretty good on its own.
The cucumber is one of the world’s most popular vegetables. It is very low in both carbs and calories, and consists mostly of water. However, it does contain a number of nutrients in small amounts, including vitamin K.
Garlic is incredibly healthy. It contains allicin, a bioactive compound with powerful biological effects, including improved immune function (8).
Kale has been very popular in recent years, for good reason. It is incredibly high in vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber and a number of other nutrients. It is perfect to add a satisfying crunch to salads and recipes.
Onions have a very strong flavor, and are very popular for use in recipes. They contain a number of bioactive compounds believed to have health benefits.
Tomatoes are usually categorized as a vegetable, although they are technically a fruit. They are tasty and loaded with nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.
More Healthy Vegetables
27-32: Fish and Seafood
Fish and other seafoods tend to be very healthy and nutritious.
They are especially rich in in omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, two nutrients that most people don’t get enough of.
Studies show that people who eat the most foods from the sea (especially fish) tend to live longer and have a lower risk of many diseases, including heart disease, dementia and depression (9, 10, 11).
Salmon is a type of oily fish that is incredibly popular due to its excellent taste and high amount of nutrients, including protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains some vitamin D.
Sardines are small, oily fish that are among the most nutritious foods you can eat. They contain hefty amounts of the majority of nutrients required by the human body.
Shellfish isn’t eaten very often, which is a shame because it contains more nutrients than almost every other food. It ranks similar to organ meats when it comes to nutrient density. Edible shellfish includes clams, mollusks and oysters.
Shrimp is a type of animal found in the sea. It tends to be low in fat and calories, but high in protein. It is also loaded with various other nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12.
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Trout is another type of delicious oily fish, similar to salmon.
Tuna is very popular in Western countries, and tends to be low in fat and calories, but high in protein. It is perfect people who need to add more protein to their diets, while keeping calories low.
Grains have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to them being a forbidden food on the wildly popular paleo diet.
However, it is a mistake to lump all grains together. There are many different types of grains, and some of them are very healthy.
Just keep in mind that they are still pretty high in carbs, so they are not recommended on a low carb diet.
33. Brown Rice
Rice is one of the oldest cereal grains, and is currently a staple food for more than half of people in the world. Brown (whole grain) rice is fairly nutritious, with a decent amount of fiber, vitamin B1 and magnesium.
Oats are incredibly healthy. They are loaded with nutrients, and also contain powerful fibers called beta-glucans, shown to have numerous benefits.
Quinoa has become incredibly popular among health conscious individuals in recent years. It is a tasty grain that is high in nutrients like fiber and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of plant-based protein.
Most people eat a lot of bread.
For those who are trying to adopt a healthier diet for the first time, it can be extremely challenging to find something to eat instead of bread.
Fortunately, there are several healthy (or at least “less bad”) options available.
36. Ezekiel Bread
Ezekiel bread may be the healthiest bread you can buy at the store. It is made from organic, sprouted whole grains, and also contains several types of legumes.
37. Homemade low-carb breads
The safest choice for healthy bread is something that you make yourself. Here is a list of 15 recipes for healthy breads that are gluten-free and low in carbs.
Legumes are another food group that has been unfairly demonized in recent years.
It is true that legumes contain anti-nutrients, substances that can interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
However, these anti-nutrients can be eliminated by soaking and properly preparing the legumes before eating them (12).
What we’re left with is an incredibly cheap source of quality nutrition, including a great plant-based source of protein.
38. Green beans
Green beans, also called string beans, are unripe varieties of the common bean. They are very popular in Western countries.
39. Kidney beans
Kidney beans are loaded with various vitamins and minerals, and are very high in fiber. Just make sure to cook them properly, because they are toxic when raw.
Lentils are another popular legume. They are high in fiber and are among the best sources of plant-based protein. Lentils also taste delicious, and have a very satisfying texture.
Many people can’t tolerate dairy products.
However, for people who do tolerate them, they are a healthy source of various important nutrients.
Full-fat dairy products seem to be the best, and studies show that people who eat the most full-fat dairy have a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes (13, 14).
If the dairy comes from grass-fed cows, then that may be even better, as it is higher in some bioactive fatty acids like CLA.
Cheese is incredibly nutritious, and a single slice of it contains about the same nutrients as an entire cup of milk. It is also one of the most delicious foods you can eat.
42. Whole milk
Whole milk is very high in vitamins, minerals, quality animal protein and healthy fats. It is one of the best sources of calcium.
Yogurt is made from milk that is fermented by adding live bacteria to it. It has many of the same health effects as milk, except with the added benefits of the friendly probiotic bacteria.
44-46: Fats and Oils
The “war” on fat is lost, and many fats and oils have been making a comeback as health foods.
44. Butter from grass-fed cows
Butter from cows that were fed on grass is high in many important nutrients, including the very important vitamin K2.
45. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is loaded with powerful fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides. Coconut oil may have benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, and has been shown to help you lose belly fat (15, 16).
46. Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on earth. It contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and is very high in antioxidants with powerful health benefits.
Tubers are the storage organs of some plants. They tend to contain a number of beneficial nutrients.
Potatoes are a very popular food around the world. They are loaded with potassium, and contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, including vitamin C.
They are also incredibly fulfilling. One study found that boiled potatoes were by far the most filling of 38 foods that were tested (17).
48. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are among the most delicious starchy foods you can eat. They are loaded with antioxidants and all sorts of healthy nutrients.
49. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular in the natural health community. Studies show that it can help lower blood sugar levels and cause modest weight loss (18, 19).
It is great to use in salad dressings, and to add flavor to meals.
50. Dark Chocolate
Not only is dark chocolate the most delicious food on this list, but it may also be the healthiest.
Dark chocolate is loaded with fiber and magnesium, and is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants in existence (20).
51. Anything Else?
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add to the list!
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