I’ve been tweaking my diet again lately and came across this interesting list of nutrient-dense foods:
When we consider whether a particular food is healthy, the nutrition content of that food is usually the most important factor.
This article takes a look at some of the most nutritious foods available.
From plant and animal foods to sea vegetation, here are 12 of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.
Crammed full of nutrients, if a “superfood” truly exists, then we have to give that recognition to liver.
Whether it’s beef, pork or chicken liver, all are incredibly rich in protein in addition to vitamins and minerals.
Here are the nutritional values of beef liver per 100g (1):
- Vitamin B12: 1176% RDA
- Copper: 714% RDA
- Vitamin A: 634% RDA
- Riboflavin: 201% RDA
- Niacin: 88% RDA
- Pantothenic Acid: 71% RDA
- Folate: 63% RDA
- Selenium: 52% RDA
- Phosphorus: 50% RDA
- Iron: 36% RDA
- Zinc: 35% RDA
- Manganese: 18% RDA
- Potassium: 10% RDA
As can be seen, liver is loaded with nutrition; it’s the most nutritious animal food in the world.
Liver also contains smaller amounts of magnesium, calcium, and vitamins C, E, and K.
How Often Should We Eat Liver?
Notably, liver contains vitamin A in such a high amount that we can actually experience hypervitaminosis A (toxicity) if we eat it too often (2).
Eating liver approximately once per week is enough, and it’s a great way to help ensure sufficient micronutrient intake.
Liver is also simple to make; just fry it in butter with some onions for a quick and easy meal.
For those who might not know, cacao comes from the seeds of a fruit (3).
Discovered centuries ago in ancient Mexico, chocolate now enjoys popularity throughout the world.
It’s one of the most nutrient-dense snacks too.
A point often overlooked by many is that cacao—and chocolate—are incredibly healthy.
But not all chocolate is made the same; you should aim for at least 85% cacao by weight. Pure cacao powder is also beneficial.
Here are the nutrients we can find in cacao per 100g (4):
- Manganese: 192% RDA
- Copper: 189% RDA
- Magnesium: 125% RDA
- Iron: 77% RDA
- Phosphorus: 73% RDA
- Zinc: 45% RDA
- Potassium: 44% RDA
- Selenium: 20% RDA
- Riboflavin: 14% RDA
- Calcium: 13% RDA
- Niacin: 11% RDA
The Benefits of Cacao
The nutrient density of cacao is certainly impressive; as you can see above, it contains almost every nutrient in the book.
However, that’s far from all.
Cacao also contains significant amounts of health-protective polyphenols that have extensive research-backed health benefits:
- Cacao products exert anti-inflammatory properties and positively modulate inflammatory markers involved in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) (5).
- Animal studies show that cacao polyphenols may prolong LDL-oxidation time, increase HDL, and decrease triglyceride levels (6).
- Cacao has several beneficial mechanisms of action on the brain. These include playing a role in the inhibition of neuronal death and inducing positive mood (7).
Eggs are probably the most nutritionally complete food in the world.
In short, an egg is a real-food version of a multi-vitamin and contains a neverending list of nutrients.
So, let’s take a look – here are the nutrients in 1 single egg (8):
- Selenium: 23% RDA
- Riboflavin: 14% RDA
- Vitamin B12: 11% RDA
- Phosphorus: 10% RDA
- Pantothenic Acid: 7% RDA
- Folate: 6% RDA
- Iron: 5% RDA
- Vitamin A: 5% RDA
- Vitamin B5: 5% RDA
- Zinc: 4% RDA
- Vitamin B6: 4% RDA
- Vitamin D: 4% RDA
- Calcium: 3% RDA
- Copper: 3% RDA
While these numbers may appear small, remember that this is for just one egg — if you eat several then they add up.
Besides this, eggs provide the most bio-available protein of all food and they’re high in healthy fats.
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Some years ago I jumped into the paleo diet and got healthier and leaner than I’d been in years. Recently, I’ve been going even more extreme and eating almost nothing but animal products. Oxtail, grilled chicken wings, fried snapper, sardines, pork liver… it’s been an interesting experiment so far. Before my trip to Indonesia, I’d actually gotten so low-carb that when I was out working in the sun I was sweating ammonia. When your body is burning almost nothing but protein, that’s a side-effect. Nice, clean, and pure. I could’ve used my shirts to clean windows. And if I passed out, I’d be able to wake myself right up again.
Note that some of the most nutrient-dense foods are animal foods. There’s a lot to be said for ditching grains and sugar and upping meat consumption.