World’s Healthiest Foods
100 foods that can serve as the basis of your Healthiest Way of Eating
Links to the articles about these foods can be found below. In addition to questions about our foods, we often get asked about beverages and sweeteners. In the beverage category, water and green tea have been especially popular topics, and in the sweetener category, so have honey and maple syrup.
Of course, there are many nutritious foods other than those included on our list that we feel are wonderful, health-promoting foods; if there are other whole foods – such as fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, etc – that you like, by all means enjoy them. Just because a food is not on our list doesn’t mean we don’t think it can be included in a diet geared towards the Healthiest Way of Eating as long as it is a whole, natural, nutrient-rich food.
To find out why some of your favorite nutritious foods are not included in our list, read The Criteria Used to Select the World’s Healthiest Foods.
- Beet greens
- Bell peppers
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Corn, Fresh Sweet
- Green beans
- Green peas
- Mushrooms, crimini
- Mushrooms, shiitake
- Mustard greens
- Olive oil, extra virgin
- Romaine lettuce
- Sea vegetables
- Squash, summer
- Squash, winter
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
Nuts & Seeds
- Plums and Prunes
Beans & Legumes
- Black beans
- Dried peas
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Soy sauce
Poultry & Meats
Eggs & Dairy
World’s Healthiest Herbs & Spices
Criteria for The World’s Healthiest Foods
Among the thousands of different foods our world provides, the majority contain at least several of the nutrients our bodies need but to be included as one of the World’s Healthiest Foods they had to meet the criteria listed below.
The criteria we used will also help you understand why some of your favorite (and also nutritious) foods may not be included on our list. For example, Readers have asked why pomegranate, a very nutritious food, is not included on our website. While pomegranates taste great and are rich in vitamins and flavonoid phytonutrients, they are still rather expensive which makes them not as widely available to many people.
1. The World’s Healthiest Foods are the Most Nutrient Dense
The World’s Healthiest Foods have been selected because they are among the richest sources of many of the essential nutrients needed for optimal health. We used a concept called nutrient density to determine which foods have the highest nutritional value.
Nutrient density is a measure of the amount of nutrients a food contains in comparison to the number of calories. A food is more nutrient dense when the level of nutrients is high in relationship to the number of calories the food contains. By eating the World’s Healthiest Foods, you’ll get all the essential nutrients that you need for excellent health, including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, fiber and more for the least number of calories. Read more about Our Food and Recipe Rating System.
2. The World’s Healthiest Foods are Whole Foods
The World’s Healthiest Foods are also whole foods complete with all their rich natural endowment of nutrients. They have not been highly processed nor do they contain synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients. And whenever possible, The Healthier Way of Eating recommends purchasing “Organically Grown” foods, since they not only promote your health, but also the health of our planet.
3. The World’s Healthiest Foods are Familiar Foods
The World’s Healthiest Foods are common “everyday” foods. These include the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean meats, fish, olive oil, herbs and spices that are familiar to most people.
4. The World’s Healthiest Foods are Readily Available
Although there are many foods that are exceptionally nutritious, many of them are not readily available in different areas of the country. The World’s Healthiest Foods are foods that the majority people can easily find at their local market.
5. The World’s Healthiest Foods are Affordable
We have selected foods that are not only familiar and available, but also affordable, especially if you purchase them locally and in season. This is also the time when they are the freshest and of the best quality.
6. The World’s Healthiest Foods Taste Good
The World’s Healthiest Foods are also some of the world’s best tasting foods. We have created recipes using the World’s Healthiest Foods that do not overpower, but enhance, the unique flavor of each food. Each recipe provides a flavor adventure so you can discover new ways to experience and enjoy the great natural t