127 foods that can serve as the basis of your Healthiest Way of Eating
Of course, there are many other nutritious foods other than those that included in this list that are wonderful, health-promoting foods; if there are other whole foods - such as fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, etc - that you like, by all means enjoy them. Just because a food is not in the list doesn't mean that it can be included in a diet geared towards the Healthiest Way of Eating as long as it is a whole, natural, nutrient-rich food.
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Green beans
- Green peas
- Mushrooms, crimini
- Mushrooms, shiitake
- Mustard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Sea vegetables
- Squash, summer
- Squash, winter
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
Eggs & Low-Fat Dairy
- Cheese, low-fat
- Milk, 2% (personlly prefer skim, or almond milk), cow's
- Milk, goat
Beans & Legumes
- Black beans
- Dried peas
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Tofu and Tempeh
Poultry & Lean Meats
- Beef, lean organic
Nuts, Seeds & Oils
- Olive oil, extra virgin
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
Spices & Herbs
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili pepper, dried
- Cilantro/Coriander seeds
- Cinnamon, ground
- Cumin seeds
- Mustard seeds
- Blackstrap molasses
- Maple syrup
- Green tea
FAQs about the World's Healthiest Foods
Criteria for The World's Healthiest Foods
Among the thousands of different foods our world provides, the majority contain at least several of the nutrients our bodies need but to be included as one of the World's Healthiest Foods they had to meet the criteria listed below.
The criteria we used will also help you understand why some of your favorite (and also nutritious) foods may not be included on our list. For example, Readers have asked why pomegranate, a very nutritious food, is not included on our website. While pomegranates taste great and are rich in vitamins and flavonoid phytonutrients, they are still rather expensive which makes them not as widely available to many people.
1. The World's Healthiest Foods are the Most Nutrient Dense
The World's Healthiest Foods have been selected because they are among the richest sources of many of the essential nutrients needed for optimal health. We used a concept called nutrient density to determine which foods have the highest nutritional value.
Nutrient density is a measure of the amount of nutrients a food contains in comparison to the number of calories. A food is more nutrient dense when the level of nutrients is high in relationship to the number of calories the food contains. By eating the World's Healthiest Foods, you'll get all the essential nutrients that you need for excellent health, including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, fiber and more for the least number of calories. Read more about Our Food and Recipe Rating System.
2. The World's Healthiest Foods are Whole Foods
The World's Healthiest Foods are also whole foods complete with all their rich natural endowment of nutrients. They have not been highly processed nor do they contain synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients. And whenever possible, The Healthier Way of Eating recommends purchasing "Organically Grown" foods, since they not only promote your health, but also the health of our planet.
3. The World's Healthiest Foods are Familiar Foods
The World's Healthiest Foods are common "everyday" foods. These include the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean meats, fish, olive oil, herbs and spices that are familiar to most people.
4. The World's Healthiest Foods are Readily Available
Although there are many foods that are exceptionally nutritious, many of them are not readily available in different areas of the country. The World's Healthiest Foods are foods that the majority people can easily find at their local market.
5. The World's Healthiest Foods are Affordable
We have selected foods that are not only familiar and available, but also affordable, especially if you purchase them locally and in season. This is also the time when they are the freshest and of the best quality.
6. The World's Healthiest Foods Taste Good
The World's Healthiest Foods are also some of the world's best tasting foods. We have created recipes using the World's Healthiest Foods that do not overpower, but enhance, the unique flavor of each food. Each recipe provides a flavor adventure so you can discover new ways to experience and enjoy the great natural tastes of these foods.
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CLEAN eating TIPS
Choosing whole foods is a simple way to ensure that what you eat is micronutrient dense and free of unnecessary additives. A "whole food" is any food in its most essential, pure, delicious and basic form: an asparagus spear, a lemon, a scoop of quinoa, or a fillet of salmon. Whole foods are the best ingredients for creating tasty and healthy meals, and, diets loaded with whole and unrefined foods may help keep you healthy.
- Choose whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal, unrefined and unprocessed foods.
- Eliminate artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats from your diet.
No matter what type of diet you follow -- including those that incorporate dairy, meat and/or seafood -- begin to reconfigure your plate so that the majority of your meal is made from an abundance of plant-based foods. When you eat more plants -- like raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains -- you're helping your body get the key micronutrients it needs to function at its best.
- Emphasize plant-based foods, no matter what type of diet you generally follow.
- Eat a colorful variety of plants to ensure you're getting the best nutrients for your body, which leads to feeling satisfied.
Get your healthy fats by eating whole plant-based foods like nuts, seeds and avocados. Then, work to minimize (or eliminate) the amounts of extracted oils and processed fats you cook with on a daily basis.
- Choose whole foods (nuts, seeds, avocados) when looking for a micronutrient dense source of healthy fats
- Minimize or eliminate extracted oils and processed fats (like margarine).