At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I was taught that there is no such thing as a good or bad food. My teachers explained that what makes some foods “evil” and others pristine has nothing to do with their individual morality and everything to do with how we use them.
After reading hundreds of books on food and attending dozens of lectures from some of the top minds in health and nutrition, I still hold this belief to be true.
However there are a few messages about food types that seem to be universal, even among differing branches of belief. In this article, I am providing what I believe to be the 5 healthiest foods for human health based on the theory of least resistance—meaning almost everyone who has written a book or considers himself/herself an expert in nutrition has no gripe with these foods:
1) SEA VEGETABLES, or “seaweed”
Quite frankly, sea vegetables are the most misunderstood and under-utilized food in Western culture! There are approximately 90 minerals identified in modern nutrition and ALL of them are represented in seaweed. Sea vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals than every other food on the planet ounce for ounce; they contain 20-200% more minerals than land-based vegetables. Seaweed holds high levels of Vitamins C, D, K and B and has more Vitamin A than carrots.
Seaweed is also very rich in protein and strengthens the kidneys and nervous system. When eaten consistently, sea vegetables calm hyperactivity, reduce stress and are excellent for the thyroid gland. People complain about the taste and the general rule of thumb with seaweed is this: the worse it tastes for you, the more you need it. Dulse, Kelp and Nori are excellent types.
Chocolate originates from a bean called “Cacao”, and is one of the most complex food substances on earth. According to Healing with Natural Foods author Paul Pitchford Cacao has over 300 chemically identifiable compounds. Energetics of Food author Eric Gagne claims raw chocolate has 700 naturally occurring chemicals and almost everyone agrees Cacao is one of the highest anti-oxidant foods on the planet (including the New York Times)!
This is beneficial because antioxidants fight “free radical cells” which cause inflammation and disease in our bodies. Cacao also contains 10x more magnesium and chromium than any other food in the world. Magnesium is the most important mineral for our health activating over 350 processes, according to Pitchford. So YES, chocolate is extremely healthy, just make sure to buy raw and organic chocolate from a health food store. An excellent way to integrate this food into your diet is by adding it to health shakes.
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WA) is an ancient whole grain, and has been consumed by people for more than 8,000 years. Quinoa has the highest nutritional profile of all grains. It contains high levels of dietary fiber and B Vitamins and has all 8 essential amino acids. Whole grains are some of the best sources for nutritional support, providing long-lasting energy (as a result of the body absorbing them slowly unlike simple carbs).
Quinoa is high in zinc, potassium, calcium and Vitamin E and is known to strengthen the kidney and heart!
It is well-known that leafy green vegetables are extremely nutritious and jam-packed with a wide array of vitamins. Energetically speaking, leafy greens contain a high concentration of chlorophyll, the “life-blood” of our planet…and Kale is the king of them!
It’s never surprising to see studies on diet and disease that say “vegetables—especially green leafy vegetables—are associated with a lower risk of…” as they have a high concentration of Vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, lutein and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are components of fruits or vegetables that may help to prevent disease, and perhaps even help to treat some disorders.
Kale goes a step further and is also an incredible source of calcium, folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium. For a green, Kale is unusually high in fiber and in many ways is a true superfood, and certainly one of the most nutritious foods known to man!
According to raw food extraordinaire David Wolfe, berries are the most natural food for human consumption and a cleanser for the human body. We spend so much time thinking about what we put in our bodies we forget the importance of what comes out (David Wolfe calls himself the world’s biggest “gastronaut”…I love it)! Furthermore, berries are a wonderful source of Vitamins C, E, calcium and folic acid and are rich in phytochemicals.
Berries are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which has been linked to lowered cholesterol levels. Some forms have even shown to have anti-cancer properties in laboratory settings The goji berry, the #1 food in Chinese medicine, is one of the highest anti-oxidant foods on the planet and well-worth looking into!
In conclusion, I am aware that the foods described in this article are not considered “main course” items in our society. However, learning more about these foods and integrating them into your diet can do absolute wonders for your health. Try them out, as they really are some of the most nutritious foods on the planet…
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