The Nutrient Dense Diet
1. Dark leafy greensNutrients:Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, manganese, magnesium, calcium, fiber
Health boosts: May promote eye health (thanks to carotenoids, a group of pigments found mainly in green leafy vegetables, carrots, and tomatoes), fight cancer, and reduce diabetes risk (vitamin K improves insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control).
2. Bok ChoyNutrients: Vitamin C, folate, calcium, fiber
Health boosts: May help promote bone health and support immunity.
3. Brussels sproutsNutrients: Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6
Health boosts: Linked to reduced cancer risk, especially breast and colon cancers.
4. RadishesNutrients:Vitamin C, fiber, folate
Health boosts:Help with weight control; may boost the immune system.
5. Bean sproutsNutrients: Vitamins C and K, folate, protein, potassium
Health boosts: May boost satiety and assist in weight management.
6. Red bell peppersNutrients: Vitamin C (three times as much as green bell peppers), vitamins A, B6, and K, fiber, manganese, folate
Health boosts: May promote heart health. Vitamin C supports immunity; carotenoids may decrease risk of certain types of cancer, including lung cancer.
1. StrawberriesNutrients:Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate, flavonoids
Health boost: May have anti-inflammatory, anticancer effects and promote brain health; may lower cholesterol and improve the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering diets.
2. Pomegranate juiceNutrients:Antioxidants, flavonoids, potassium, fiber, calcium
Health boost:Studies indicate that pomegranate juice has antiatherogenic (protects against plaque in the arteries), antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory effects that help fight heart disease, certain types of cancer, and brain degeneration.
3. TomatoesNutrients:Vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, iron, folic acid, phosphorus, carotenoids, fiber
Health boost: Lycopene, a potent antioxidant in tomatoes, may prevent certain cancers, protect skin from UV rays, and promote overall prostate health.
4. PlumsNutrients:Fiber, vitamins A and C
Health boost: Plums help support immunity and may help slow development of artherosclerosis. Polyphenols from dried plums may promote bone strength and density by regulating growth factors linked to bone formation.
5. RaspberriesNutrients:Manganese, vitamin C, fiber
Health boost: Anthocyanins—red plant pigments—may protect eyes and improve heart health by preventing artery hardening and reducing blood pressure; ellagic acid, a phytochemical, helps kill certain types of cancer cells.
Beans and legumes:
1. LentilsNutrients:Protein, fiber, folate, iron, manganese, magnesium
Health boost: Folate may improve colon, breast, and brain health and lower blood pressure.
2. Black beansNutrients:Iron, fiber, protein, folate, manganese, magnesium
Health boost: Some of the best sources of antioxidants, as indicated by their dark color; may protect against colorectal cancer and slow tumor growth.
3. Adzuki beansNutrients: Protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, folate
Health boost: Promote heart health; help manage weight.
4. Red kidney beansNutrients:Folate, fiber, manganese, protein, iron, tryptophan, phosphorus
Health boost: Promote heart health; may help prevent diabetes.
1. OatsNutrients: Fiber, protein, calcium, iron
Health boost: Beta-glucan, a soluble fiber, can slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream to help fight diabetes. Oats also lower cholesterol and may reduce risk of heart disease and cancer.
2. Brown riceNutrients: Fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus
Health boost: May improve blood glucose control; helps control weight and manage cholesterol, and may decrease asthma risk.
3. Sprouted grain breadNutrients: Fiber, protein, vitamin B1
Health boost: When grain seedlings sprout, enzymes convert some of the fats and carbohydrates into vitamins, minerals, and amino acids; sprouted-seed breads are more filling and have less of a spiking impact on blood sugar than other breads.
4. BarleyNutrients: Fiber, folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin E
Health boost: Look for hulled barley, which contains more nutrients than pearl barley. The FDA recently confirmed the qualified health claim linking whole-grain barley to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease; soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and stabilizes blood glucose levels.
5. QuinoaNutrients: Protein, calcium, lysine, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, phosphorus, fiber
Health boost: Bolsters heart health; may protect against certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.
Seeds and Nuts:
1. Brazil nutsNutrients: Selenium, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin A, iron
Health boost: One of the richest sources of selenium, Brazil nuts may bolster immunity, reduce the risk of cancer, and promote liver health.
2. Sunflower seedsNutrients: Vitamins B1, B5, and E, manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, folate
Health boost: May help prevent cardiovascular disease and alleviate arthritis symptoms.
3. FlaxseedsNutrients: Lignans (phytoestrogens), fiber, omega-3s, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Health boost: May prevent colon, breast, skin, and lung cancers; can help treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases; may decrease cholesterol levels, arterial plaque formation, and diabetes risk.
4. Sesame seedsNutrients: Protein, calcium, vitamin B3, iron, zinc
Health boost: May decrease breast cancer risk.
5. Pumpkin seedsNutrients: Protein, iron, zinc, omega-3s, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus
Health boost: Help reduce cholesterol; may promote prostate health.