There are a wide range of systems for ranking the nutritional density of foods out there – Dr. Joel Fuhman’s ANDI Score (familiar to Whole Foods shoppers), ERNI scores from Eat Right America, and the Nutrient Rich Foods Index are just a few.
All of them classify foods based on different criteria, so the results vary in terms of what “the most nutrient dense food” is.
But any way you slice it, the following eight foods fit a lot of nutrients into every bite.
Ranked number one on the ANDI list, this leafy green vegetable packs a whole lot of nutrition into a small package. A single one-cup serving of kale contains at least double the RDA of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. Kale is also rich in manganese, with just about a quarter of the recommended daily intake value.
Low in fat but high in protein and fiber, beans are recognized as both a vegetable and a protein by the USDA.
All varieties of beans, from black to kidney to white, contain tons of phytonutrients, a class of antioxidants that are vital to protecting the body against heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
With 300 mg of Omega-3s per three ounce serving, oysters pack in more of this beneficial fatty acid than tuna or salmon. Plus, oysters contain a full daily recommended value of zinc, and a third of a day’s worth of iron. An extra bonus: oysters are super sustainable.
The probiotic properties of live-culture yogurt, as well as the high-quality protein, calcium, and potassium, make yogurt one of the most nutrient-dense dairy products you can eat. Just watch out for super-sugary yogurts and those that don’t contain active cultures, as you’ll lose out on some of the benefits of healthier options.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Unlike their somewhat lackluster brethren, sweet potatoes are one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables that you can put on your plate. When you leave the skins on, you’ll get sky-high values of vitamin A and potassium. They’ll also leave you feeling fuller longer than veggies that lack such a robust fiber content.
For vegans and vegetarians, mushrooms are something of a godsend when it comes to vitamin D – they’re the best non-meat supplier of this vital nutrient. Plus, mushrooms are rich in selenium, which has been proven to fight cancer, as well as copper and potassium.
Need a salty snack? Pistachios can give you a protein and fiber boost while also supplying tons of vitamins and minerals. Crack open a handful of pistachios for a big kick of vitamin B6, vitamin E, thiamin, potassium, magnesium, and countless healthy fats.
Berries tend to be the most well-known antioxidant-rich fruits, but kiwis are a great alternative for when you get bored of blueberries or when they get too expensive. Just one kiwi has a whole day’s worth of vitamin C under that fuzzy brown skin, and they’re also full of potassium, vitamins A and E, and fiber.
Know of any other nutrition powerhouses? Share them (and recipe ideas!) in the comments section below.