Eating healthy does not have to be boring. There are massive amounts of food that are both healthy and tasty.
Here are the 50 healthiest foods on Earth. Most of them are surprisingly delicious.
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1-6: Fruits and Berries
Fruits and berries are among the world’s most popular health foods.
This is not surprising, given that they taste incredible. Fruits are also very easy to incorporate into the diet, because they require little to no preparation.
The apple is high in fiber, vitamin C and numerous antioxidants. Apples are very fulfilling, and perfect as snacks if you find yourself hungry between meals.
Avocados are different than most fruits, because they are loaded with healthy fats instead of carbs. They are creamy, tasty and high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Bananas are among the world’s best sources of potassium. They are also high in vitamin B6 and fiber. Bananas are ridiculously convenient and portable.
Blueberries are not only delicious, but also among the most powerful sources of antioxidants in the world.
Oranges are well known for their vitamin C content. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants and taste incredible.
They are loaded with vitamin C, fiber and manganese, and are arguably among the most delicious foods in existence.
Other Healthy Fruits
There are many other healthy fruits and berries that aren’t listed here.
Some examples: Cherries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, mango, melons, olives, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums and raspberries.
Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.
It is a myth that meat is harmful. Unprocessed, gently cooked meat is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods you can eat.
8. Lean Beef
Lean beef is among the best sources of protein in existence, and loaded with highly bioavailable iron. Choosing the fatty cuts is fine if you’re on a low carb diet.
9. Chicken Breasts
Chicken breast is low in fat and calories, but extremely high in protein. It is a great source of many nutrients. Again, feel free to eat fattier cuts of chicken if you’re not eating that many carbs.
Lambs are usually grass-fed, and their meat tends to be high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
11-16: Nuts, Seeds and Peanuts
These foods are crunchy, fulfilling and loaded with important nutrients that many people don’t get enough of, including magnesium and vitamin E.
They also require zero preparation, which is important because it makes it easier to incorporate them into the diet.
The almond is a popular type of nut. It is loaded with vitamin E, antioxidants, magnesium and fiber. Studies show that almonds can help you lose weight, and provide impressive benefits for metabolic health (5).
12. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. A single ounce (28 grams) contains 11 grams of fiber, and a large part of the recommended intake for magnesium, manganese, calcium and various other nutrients.
Coconuts are loaded with fiber and powerful fatty acids called medium-chain triglycerides.
14. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are very tasty. They are much higher in monounsaturated fats, and lower in Omega-6 fatty acids, than most other nuts.
Walnuts are highly nutritious and loaded with fiber and all sorts of vitamins and minerals.
However, take it easy on the peanut butter. It is very high in calories and incredibly easy to eat excessive amounts of it.
Calorie for calorie, vegetables are among the world’s most concentrated sources of nutrients.
There is a wide variety available, and it is best to eat many different types of vegetables every day.
Asparagus is a popular vegetable. It is low in both carbs and calories, but loaded with vitamin K.
18. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers come in several colors, including red, yellow and green. They are crunchy and taste very sweet, and are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that tastes great both raw and cooked. It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C, and contains a decent amount of protein compared to other vegetables.
The carrot is a popular root vegetable. It is extremely tasty and crunchy, and loaded with nutrients like fiber and vitamin K. Carrots are also very high in carotene antioxidants, which have numerous benefits.
Cauliflower is a very versatile cruciferous vegetable. It can be used to make all sorts of healthy recipes, and also tastes pretty good on its own.
The cucumber is one of the world’s most popular vegetables. It is very low in both carbs and calories, and consists mostly of water. However, it does contain a number of nutrients in small amounts, including vitamin K.
Kale has been very popular in recent years, for good reason. It is incredibly high in vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber and a number of other nutrients. It is perfect to add a satisfying crunch to salads and recipes.
Onions have a very strong flavor, and are very popular for use in recipes. They contain a number of bioactive compounds believed to have health benefits.
Tomatoes are usually categorized as a vegetable, although they are technically a fruit. They are tasty and loaded with nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.
More Healthy Vegetables
These weren’t listed, but are also very healthy: Artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, eggplant, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, squash, swiss chard, turnips, zucchini.
27-32: Fish and Seafood
Fish and other seafoods tend to be very healthy and nutritious.
They are especially rich in in omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, two nutrients that most people don’t get enough of.
Studies show that people who eat the most foods from the sea (especially fish) tend to live longer and have a lower risk of many diseases, including heart disease, dementia and depression (9, 10, 11).
Salmon is a type of oily fish that is incredibly popular due to its excellent taste and high amount of nutrients, including protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains some vitamin D.
Sardines are small, oily fish that are among the most nutritious foods you can eat. They contain hefty amounts of the majority of nutrients required by the human body.
Shellfish isn’t eaten very often, which is a shame because it contains more nutrients than almost every other food. It ranks similar to organ meats when it comes to nutrient density. Edible shellfish includes clams, mollusks and oysters.
Shrimp is a type of animal found in the sea. It tends to be low in fat and calories, but high in protein. It is also loaded with various other nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12.
Trout is another type of delicious oily fish, similar to salmon.
Tuna is very popular in Western countries, and tends to be low in fat and calories, but high in protein. It is perfect people who need to add more protein to their diets, while keeping calories low.
Grains have gotten a bad rap in recent years, mainly due to them being a forbidden food on the wildly popular paleo diet.
However, it is a mistake to lump all grains together. There are many different types of grains, and some of them are very healthy.
Just keep in mind that they are still pretty high in carbs, so they are not recommended on a low carb diet.
33. Brown Rice
Rice is one of the oldest cereal grains, and is currently a staple food for more than half of people in the world. Brown (whole grain) rice is fairly nutritious, with a decent amount of fiber, vitamin B1 and magnesium.
Oats are incredibly healthy. They are loaded with nutrients, and also contain powerful fibers called beta-glucans, shown to have numerous benefits.
Quinoa has become incredibly popular among health conscious individuals in recent years. It is a tasty grain that is high in nutrients like fiber and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of plant-based protein.
Most people eat a lot of bread.
For those who are trying to adopt a healthier diet for the first time, it can be extremely challenging to find something to eat instead of bread.
Fortunately, there are several healthy (or at least “less bad”) options available.
36. Ezekiel Bread
Ezekiel bread may be the healthiest bread you can buy at the store. It is made from organic, sprouted whole grains, and also contains several types of legumes.
37. Homemade low-carb breads
The safest choice for healthy bread is something that you make yourself. Here is a list of 15 recipes for healthy breads that are gluten-free and low in carbs.
Legumes are another food group that has been unfairly demonized in recent years.
It is true that legumes contain anti-nutrients, substances that can interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
However, these anti-nutrients can be eliminated by soaking and properly preparing the legumes before eating them (12).
What we’re left with is an incredibly cheap source of quality nutrition, including a great plant-based source of protein.
38. Green beans
Green beans, also called string beans, are unripe varieties of the common bean. They are very popular in Western countries.
39. Kidney beans
Kidney beans are loaded with various vitamins and minerals, and are very high in fiber. Just make sure to cook them properly, because they are toxic when raw.
Lentils are another popular legume. They are high in fiber and are among the best sources of plant-based protein. Lentils also taste delicious, and have a very satisfying texture.
Many people can’t tolerate dairy products.
However, for people who do tolerate them, they are a healthy source of various important nutrients.
If the dairy comes from grass-fed cows, then that may be even better, as it is higher in some bioactive fatty acids like CLA.
Cheese is incredibly nutritious, and a single slice of it contains about the same nutrients as an entire cup of milk. It is also one of the most delicious foods you can eat.
42. Whole milk
Whole milk is very high in vitamins, minerals, quality animal protein and healthy fats. It is one of the best sources of calcium.
Yogurt is made from milk that is fermented by adding live bacteria to it. It has many of the same health effects as milk, except with the added benefits of the friendly probiotic bacteria.
44-46: Fats and Oils
The “war” on fat is lost, and many fats and oils have been making a comeback as health foods.
44. Butter from grass-fed cows
45. Coconut Oil
46. Extra virgin olive oil
Tubers are the storage organs of some plants. They tend to contain a number of beneficial nutrients.
Potatoes are a very popular food around the world. They are loaded with potassium, and contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need, including vitamin C.
They are also incredibly fulfilling. One study found that boiled potatoes were by far the most filling of 38 foods that were tested (17).
48. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are among the most delicious starchy foods you can eat. They are loaded with antioxidants and all sorts of healthy nutrients.
49. Apple Cider Vinegar
It is great to use in salad dressings, and to add flavor to meals.
50. Dark Chocolate
Not only is dark chocolate the most delicious food on this list, but it may also be the healthiest.
Dark chocolate is loaded with fiber and magnesium, and is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants in existence (20).
51. Anything Else?
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add to the list!
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By Melissa Gaskill
Two decades ago scientists and volunteers along the Virginia coast started tossing seagrass seeds into barren seaside lagoons. Disease and an intense hurricane had wiped out the plants in the 1930s, and no nearby meadows could serve as a naturally dispersing source of seeds to bring them back.
Restored seagrass beds in Virginia now provide habitat for hundreds of thousands of scallops. Bob Orth, Virginia Institute of Marine Science / CC BY 2.0<p>The paper is part of a growing trend of evidence suggesting seagrass meadows can be easier to restore than other coastal habitats.</p><p>Successful seagrass-restoration methods include <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304377099000078?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">transplanting shoots</a>, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1061-2971.2004.00314.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mechanized planting</a> and, more recently, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17438-4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">biodegradable mats</a>. Removing threats, proximity to donor seagrass beds, planting techniques, project size and site selection all play roles in a restoration effort's success.</p><p>Human assistance isn't always necessary, though. In areas where some beds remain, seagrass can even recover on its own when stressors are reduced or removed. For example, seagrass began to recover when Tampa Bay improved its water quality by reducing nitrogen loads from runoff by roughly 90%.</p><p>But more and more, seagrass meadows struggle to hang on.</p><p>The marine flowering plants have declined globally since the 1930s and currently disappear at a rate equivalent to a football field every 30 minutes, according to the <a href="https://www.unep.org/resources/report/out-blue-value-seagrasses-environment-and-people" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Environment Programme</a>. And research published in 2018 found the rate of decline is <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GB005941" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">accelerating</a> in many regions.</p><p>The causes of decline vary and overlap, depending on the region. They include thermal stress from climate change; human activities such as dredging, anchoring and coastal infrastructure; and intentional removal in tourist areas. In addition, increased runoff from land carries sediment that clouds the water, blocking sunlight the plants need for photosynthesis. Runoff can also carry contaminants and nutrients from fertilizer that disrupt habitats and cause algal blooms.</p><p>All that damage comes with a cost.</p>
The Value of Seagrass<p>As with ecosystems like rainforests and <a href="https://therevelator.org/mangroves-climate-change/" target="_blank">mangroves</a>, loss of seagrass increases carbon dioxide emissions. And that spells trouble not just for certain habitats but for the whole planet.</p><p>Although seagrass covers at most 0.2% of the seabed, it <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/seagrass-secret-weapon-fight-against-global-heating" target="_blank">accounts for 10%</a> of the ocean's capacity to store carbon and soils, and these meadows store carbon dioxide an estimated 30 times faster than most terrestrial forests. Slow decomposition rates in seagrass sediments contribute to their <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/238506081_Assessing_the_capacity_of_seagrass_meadows_for_carbon_burial_Current_limitations_and_future_strategies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high carbon burial rates</a>. In Australia, according to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.15204" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">research</a> by scientists at Edith Cowan University, loss of seagrass meadows since the 1950s has increased carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to 5 million cars a year. The United Nations Environment Programme reports that a 29% decline in seagrass in Chesapeake Bay between 1991 and 2006 resulted in an estimated loss of up to 1.8 million tons of carbon.</p>
Eelgrass in the river delta at Prince William Sound, Alaska. Alaska ShoreZone Program NOAA / NMFS / AKFSC; Courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg / NOAA / NMFS / AKFSC<p>Seagrasses also protect costal habitats. A healthy meadow slows wave energy, reduces erosion and lowers the risk of flooding. In Morro Bay, California, a 90% decline in the seagrass species known as eelgrass caused extensive erosion, according to a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272771420303528?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper</a> from researchers at California Polytechnic State University.</p><p>"Right away, we noticed big patterns in sediment loss or erosion," said lead author Ryan Walter. "Many studies have shown this on individual eelgrass beds, but very few studies looked at it on a systemwide scale."</p><p>In the tropics, seagrass's natural protection can reduce the need for expensive and often-environmentally unfriendly <a href="https://www.nioz.nl/en/news/zeegras-spaart-stranden-en-geld" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">beach nourishments</a> regularly conducted in tourism areas.</p><p>Seagrass ecosystems improve water quality and clarity, filtering particles out of the water column and preventing resuspension of sediment. This role could be even more important in the future. By producing oxygen through photosynthesis, meadows could help offset decreased oxygen levels caused by warmer water temperatures (oxygen is less soluble in warm than in cold water).</p><p>The meadows also provide vital habitat for a wide variety of marine life, including fish, sea turtles, birds, marine mammals such as manatees, invertebrates and algae. They provide nursery habitat for <a href="https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/32636/seagrass.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly 20%</a> of the world's largest fisheries — an <a href="https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/seagrass-meadows-harbor-wildlife-for-centuries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">estimated 70%</a> of fish habitats in Florida alone.</p><p>Conversely, their disappearance can contribute to die-offs of marine life. The loss of more than 20 square miles of seagrass in Florida's Biscayne Bay may have helped set the stage for a widespread <a href="https://www.wlrn.org/2020-08-14/the-seagrass-died-that-may-have-triggered-a-widespread-fish-kill-in-biscayne-bay" target="_blank">fish kill</a> in summer 2020. Lack of grasses to produce oxygen left the basin more vulnerable when temperatures rose and oxygen levels dropped as a result, says Florida International University professor Piero Gardinali.</p>
Damaged Systems, a Changing Climate<p>Governments and conservationists around the world have already put a lot of effort into coastal restoration efforts. And that's helped some seagrass populations.</p><p>Where stressors remain, though, restoration grows more complicated. <a href="https://www.rug.nl/research/portal/en/publications/the-future-of-seagrass-ecosystem-services-in-a-changing-world(3a8c56db-7bed-4c9e-ac7f-c72453e2a102).html" target="_blank">Research</a> published this September found that only 37% of seagrass restorations have survived. Newly restored meadows remain vulnerable to the original stressors that depleted them, as well as to storms — and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/climate-crisis">climate change</a>.</p>
Seagrass in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida. Alicia Wellman / Florida Fish and Wildlife / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>In Chesapeake Bay a cold-water species of seagrass is currently hitting its heat limit, especially in summer, according to Alexander Challen Hyman of University of Florida's School of Natural Resources and Environment. As waters continue to warm due to climate change, the species likely will disappear there.</p><p>Climate-driven sea-level rise complicates the problem as well. Seagrasses thrive at specific depths — too shallow and they dry out or are eaten, too deep and there isn't enough light for photosynthesis.</p>
But There’s Good News, Too<p>Luckily, left to its own devices, a seagrass meadow can flourish for hundreds of years, according to a <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2019.1861" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper</a> published last year by Hyman and other researchers from the University of Florida. The researchers arrived at their conclusion by looking at shells of living mollusks and fossil shells to estimate the ages of meadows in Florida's Big Bend region on the Gulf Coast.</p><p>That area has extensive, relatively pristine seagrass meadows. "Our motivation was to understand the past history of these systems, and shells store a lot of history," said co-author Michal Kowalewski.</p><p>A high degree of similarity between living and dead shells indicates a stable area, while a mismatch suggests an area shifted from seagrass to barren sand. The researchers found that long-term accumulations of shells resembled living ones, suggesting that the seagrass habitats have been stable over time.</p><p>That stability allows biodiversity to thrive, creating conditions where specialist species can survive and flourish, according to Hyman.</p><p>Discovering the long-term stability of seagrass meadows has implications for choosing restoration sites, Kowalewski notes.</p><p>"There must be reasons they thrive in one place, while a mile away they don't and fossil data says they probably never did," he said. "If we remove a seagrass patch, we cannot hope to plant it somewhere else. It's not just the seagrass that is special. The location at which it's found is special, too."</p><p>A better approach is conserving these habitats in the first place, but we're not doing enough of that right now. The UN reports that marine protected areas safeguard just 26% of recorded seagrass meadows, compared with 40% of coral reefs and 43% of mangroves.</p>
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