Top 10 Most Nutrient Dense Foods

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Many thanks to Christine & Stephanie for sharing their healthy-living nutritional tips with us! Check out below for some insight on some healthy eats!

Fresh avocado on cutting board over wooden background

Rather than just focusing on what to avoid (e.g., processed foods + sugar), we love to focus on what whole food to ADD into your diets to feel alive, glowing and energized. Nutrient density is about the vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential fats and proteins that are in food. Look beyond calories and focus on what foods have the highest nutrient profile (or combination of the above). Hint, they are WHOLE real foods!

Here are our top 10 most nutrient dense food choices and how we use them daily.Eggs (With the Yolk!)
Organic eggs WITH THEIR YOLKS contain high quality protein and healthy fats. They are considered the “gold standard” for protein quality because their amino acids are in the most digestible form to humans. They are high in Lutein and Zeaxanthine, antioxidants that can protect the eyes and reduce your risk of eye diseases. Eggs are also loaded with choline (B-complex vitamin), a brain nutrient that about 90% of people don’t get enough of. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits. There’s also evidence that, when consumed by pregnant women, dietary choline helps with fetal brain development. Eggs are high in sulfur, an essential nutrient that helps with everything from vitamin B absorption to liver function. Sulfur is also necessary for the production of collagen and keratin, which help create and maintain shiny hair, strong nails and glowing skin.There are hundreds of ways to enjoy your eggs! Scrambled, sunny side up, poached, hard boiled or as a veggie frit tata.  Enjoy them chopped in a salad and as a topping for soups or avocado toast. Eggs aren’t just for breakfast, they can be enjoyed all day long and make for a quick and nutrient packed meal when combined with vegetables, dark leafy greens and a whole grain.

Dark, Leafy Greens

Green veggies, such as spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens and broccoli have so many health benefits ranging from: detoxification of the liver, boosting of the immune system and increasing your energy. They are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K as well as B vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.  Greens may also help prevent cancer, purify your blood, lower cholesterol levels, improve circulation and help your digestion. Leafy greens are filled with antioxidants that keep your cells (and therefore your whole self) young and protected. They are high in fiber (keeps you fuller longer), iron (energy), potassium (blood pressure), magnesium and calcium (strong bones and teeth!) and in water content (helping you stay hydrated and keeping your skin glowing and smooth).

Use them in in place of lettuce in your salads. Add them towards the end of the cook time to soups or stir-frys, stuff them in sandwiches, scramble them in eggs, blend them in smoothies, sauces and dressings and more! Try using a dark, leafy green in place of basil for pesto!

Blueberries

Blueberries are nature’s candy, so enjoy them by the handful! They have the highest antioxidant density of all fresh fruit. They contain a plethora of immune boosting vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, B complex, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Iron. They are loaded with fiber to help aid in digestion and keep you fuller longer. Blueberries are also great for brain and central nervous system health. Some studies even suggest they can help improve memory and Alzheimer’s symptoms. They are also known to help prevent certain cancers.

Use them in your smoothies, baking, or just as a snack. Throw a handful into a spinach salad, make a fruit gazpacho or use them to flavor a pitcher of water.  Buy a bunch in peak season, wash and dry them and store them in the freezer.

Avocado

Avocados are a nutrient powerhouse. They contain the healthy fats that your body needs to metabolize your food and they help your skin glow from antioxidants that fight free radicals, boost your immune system and slow the aging process. They are the best fruit source of Vitamin E, which protects against many diseases, as well as Vitamin B6 and folic acid, a B vitamin that is critical during pregnancy. Taking folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. After you have a baby, the healthy fats and nutrients in avocados are amazing for your breast milk and overall health. Kids love to eat them too!

We blend avocados into our soups and smoothies, dice them into salads and mash them onto toast sprinkled with lemon or lime, cayenne and sea salt for a fabulous snack.  Or, just open cut and eat with sea salt.

Wild Salmon (SSR)

Wild salmon is not only high in protein, but it is also a mega-source of Omega-3s which have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, dementia depression and more. Omegas are also great for your hair and skin and joints! Wild salmon is also high in B-Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Zinc and Selenium. It is chock full of Vitamin D, A and E as well. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and free radicals. We always choose wild vs farm raised salmon because wild salmon is more nutrient dense, has half the fat,  ⅓ the saturated fat, fewer calories per serving and a better Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio.

Salmon is great roasted, grilled, smoked, poached or seared. We love adding it to our eggs, top our avocado toast with it or add it to salads or pastas. Cook a large portion once and use it in throughout the week in creative ways!

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Greek Yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a protein and probiotic powerhouse. One serving boasts an impressive amount of protein (20 grams in a 7oz serving of “Fage”). According to Harvard Medical School, that’s 1/3 of your daily protein needs! It is also low in sugar with just around 8g per serving. Even fruit flavored Greek yogurt is a good option with just around 15g of sugar per serving. The live bacteria probiotics in Greek yogurt are so good for your belly, helping to ease bloating, boost your immunity and improve digestion. Greek yogurt is also a rich source of calcium and potassium, helping to build strong bones and boost immunity.

Use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, in dips, dressings and marinades and of course as part of breakfast in your daily smoothie or topped with berries, nuts, cinnamon and homemade granola!

Seaweed and Blue and Green Algae

Seaweed is an amazing source of vitamins and minerals including Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Manganese. It is also chock-full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Seaweed is most importantly packed with iodine, which is critical for healthy thyroid function. The dark green color shows the concentrated amount of phytochemicals and cleansing compounds.

We love adding a piece of kombu to our grains and beans while they cook, ordering seaweed salad at Japanese restaurants, using Nori as a wrap in place of a tortilla or sprinkling dried arame onto our salads for some extra superfood punch!

Spirulina and Chlorella are blue and green algae that are rich in chlorophyll and loaded with nutrients.

Spirulina is considered one of the most nutritionally complete of all food supplements. It is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, and has 10 times the beat-carotene of carrots. It’s a complete protein (contains more protein per ounce than a serving of steak!) and is rich in essential fatty acids. It’s also rich in vitamins, minerals potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron and magnesium. Spirulina has been shown to increase energy, boost immunity, protect against cancer, aid in detoxing and weight loss.

Chlorella boasts just as many nutritional accolades. In fact, this green-algae contains the highest amount of chlorophyll of any known plant.  It has similiar benefits as Spirulina plus has been shown to support healthy hormonal function, good cardiovascular health and the removal of harmful toxins in our body.

We use them daily in powdered form in our smoothies. They can also be taken via an oral supplement. We love to make dressings with them or carry Chlorella in the packet form in our bags. Toss in water and it’s an instant energy and nutrient boost.

Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and Nuts are a great on-the-go snack, providing slowly digested protein, healthy fats, fiber and vitamins and minerals. We suggesting buying organic and sprouted (or sprouting on you own!) nuts, if possible. The soaking and sprouting process reduces the phytic acid naturally found in grains, nuts and legumes. Phytic Acid chelates (binds to) the minerals and vitamins (zinc, iron, calcium) found in grains, beans and nuts, making it harder for our bodies to absorb them, so soaking and sprouting is a great way to get more good out of what you are eating.

Add nuts and seeds to trail mix, granola or your morning oatmeal. Add crunch to salads or pasta dishes. Crust your chicken or fish or try garnishing with turmeric roasted nuts! We also love nut butters for dipping and spreading and homemade nut milks in our smoothies and soups.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are a carb we like to load up on! These jewel-toned spuds top the charts for their nutrient density, especially when you eat the skins too! Sweet Potatoes (aka Yams) are rich in Vitamin A, B, C, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper and Manganese. And they taste deliciously sweet, decadent and filling.

We love to slice them into ¼ inch rounds and roast them with oil and spices, or cube them and boil them for 10-15 minutes until tender and toss them with spinach or chard, olive oil, dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper!

Quinoa

We LOVE quinoa! It is a gluten-free, vegan, complete protein source, containing all of the essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a great source of heart-healthy fats such as oleic acid, monounsaturated fats and ALAs (aka Omega-3s), making this seed a fabulous anti-inflammatory agent!  Quinoa is also an antioxidant containing phytonutrients and flavonoids and provides more than 40% DV of Manganese, copper and phosphorus and about 20% DV of magnesium, fiber, folate and zinc! Not to mention it is quick and easy to cook in about 15 minutes.

We love to add in chopped roasted or grilled veggies, beans or any lean protein, dried fruits and nuts and a homemade dressing for a super simple salad!

Bye-bye calorie counting, HELLO nutrient dense goodness.

With love & gratitude,

Christine & Stephanie