There is a fundamental mistake being made when people ‘rank’ the healthiest foods in the world. The nutrient density of a food hinges on two critical factors: the bioavailability and digestibility of the food. You are not what you eat, you are what you digest. Many love to use the paper value of the nutrient profiles of many plant foods to validate their reasons why they are so healthy. No, kale, spinach, and broccoli are not the healthiest foods on the planet. There are critical underlying issues with these foods, they lack calories, they are difficult to digest, and their bioavailability is unquestionably lower compared to their animal food counterparts. Not only that, many plant foods contain compounds that are known as antinutrients. Antinutrients prevent the body from not only absorbing the minerals in the plant foods they ate but also crucial minerals in other foods that they ate alongside the plant foods. I am not here to say vegetables are the worst foods on the planet but these factors must be considered. Calories are another ignored part of ranking healthy foods, if the food is low in calories, it is impossible to live sustainably and long term without your health suffering. It’s not ancestrally appropriate to live on low-calorie plant foods, if it was, we wouldn’t be here. Some plant foods are much easier to digest and absorb than others and compared to what the majority of people are eating today, it is often always better to have the veggies rather than the processed sides. Processed seed oils, refined sugar, and grains are always going to on the top of the list for foods to avoid at best. Back to the topic, I do want to clearly outline what I believe is the top 10 healthiest foods on the planet are based on evidence.
1. Beef Liver – An ounce of this food may be more nutrient-dense than most Americans’ entire daily diet. Not only is the liver extremely micronutrient dense, but it also packs protein, saturated fat, and cholesterol, all of which are fundamental building blocks for the body to remain in its optimal function. Just 100g of beef liver has 522% DV (daily value) of Vitamin A (in the correct form: retinol), double-digit DV percentages of Vitamin B2, B6, B12, Choline, Copper, Selenium, and Iron. Beef liver provides exactly what humans need to function well. Obviously, it is a food that seems to be absent in people’s diet because of preference and availability. While it may not be as easy to find as a steak on your grocery store shelf, you can always ask the butchers if they have any. Also, companies like Heart & Soil and Ancestral Supplements have freeze-dried capsules whenever you aren’t able to cook or you cannot tolerate the taste.
2. Salmon Roe – Salmon Roe is the eggs of salmon that you often find on fancy sushi rolls. Roe is similar to the liver in the sense that it is even more micronutrient-rich than the actual muscle meat that is so commonly eaten. Most people know that salmon, sardines, and mackerel are rich in bioavailable omega 3 fatty acids but salmon roe is even higher! 100g of salmon roe punches 3.5 grams of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and 25+ grams of protein. It is also high in selenium, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamin D3, and B12. Once again, this is a bit more expensive and difficult to find out and around but undoubtedly deserves its position in the top 3 healthiest foods on the planet.
3. Wild Game Meat (Bison, Oryx, Elk) – Wild Game meats are naturally leaner and higher in micronutrients than most all other animal foods. Why? Well these animals are still living their natural lifecycle. They are not fed processed grains, antibiotics, and steroids’ while living in unnatural living conditions. Meat like bison and elk are much higher in micronutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids and iron. They are raised on natural grasslands and wilderness which results in healthier nutrient profiles than most conventional pork and beef. People often throw around the phrase, “You are what you eat” but there is more to it. It should actually be “You are what you eat ate.” Opting for more naturally fed and grown animal foods are always going to be less inflammatory on the body.
2. Wild-Caught Fatty Fish – Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are just a few of the best protein sources on earth. These fatty fish bring healthy fats, protein, cholesterol, and a host of micronutrients that are critical for optimal human function. Vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids are direly needed in most people’s standard American Diet high in inflammatory fats and low in critical fat-soluble vitamins. These fish also are high in iron, calcium, and potassium.
3. Grass-Fed Beef – The micronutrients in animal foods are much more bioavailable because they are already in the correct form that the body utilizes. The iron and vitamin A in plant foods are much less absorbed than the iron and vitamin A in animal foods because the body has to convert the plant forms into the correct form. Beef is high in zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin b12. These micronutrients are important for muscle, bone, and brain health.
4. Pasture-raised Eggs – Properly raised and fed, eggs are incredible sources of micro and macronutrients. The yolk itself is rich in vitamin A, biotin, vitamin d3, and vitamin b2/6/12. Also, eggs pack protein and cholesterol which are essential for optimal human function. The best way to tell the quality of your egg is to look at the shade of the yolk, the more orange it is, the richer in micronutrients it is.
5. Heritage-breed Pork – Most people like to blame some of these fattier animal foods for being high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 fats which are already way too high in most people’s diets. The truth is, many plant foods are much higher in omega 6 fats as compared to pork. Plant foods like sunflower oil, almonds, peanuts, soybean oil, soy (tofu), and cashews are all much much higher in these pro-inflammatory fats along with their antinutrient properties. Pork is rich in selenium,vitamin b6, zinc, thiamine, and riboflavin. Also, as with most bone in animal meats, pork is high in collagen. Collagen is a protein that is critical for healthy, clear, and strong hair, skin, and nails.
6. Raw Grass-Fed Dairy – Milk in its most natural form is considered nature’s perfect food. It’s high in fat, protein, carbohydrates, calories, and micronutrients. Unfortunately, the way milk is processed prior to being put on the shelf damages a lot of its intended nutrients. Many people have difficulty digesting it well. Pasteurizing milk destroys many of the bioavailable micronutrients. Also, the way many dairy cows are fed and raised is unnatural and unhealthy. Fed and raised in its most natural way results in less inflammatory affects on the body.
7. Seaweed – This sea vegetable is known as one of the highest sources of iodine on the planet. Iodine is a critical nutrient for proper thyroid and metabolic functions. Seaweed is also high in a compound known as sulfated polysacharides that has been shown to have anti cancer and anti inflammatory affects on the body. This plant food is also high other micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamin k.
8. Avocado- This fruit is high in healthy monounsaturated fats, low in sugar, and high in fiber. They are rich in copper, a mineral that is definitely lacking in the average American diet. They are also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and folate. They pack all three critical parts of healthy food: micronutrients, macronutrients, and calories. Also, as fruit, they are intended to be eaten so they are going to be much lower in anti-nutrients.
9. Sweet Potato – Sweet Potato are a low toxin plant food that is high in potassium & magnesium. They also pack a solid punch of vitamin c, manganese, B6, and copper. They are a clean source of energy and can be helpful in gut motility.
10. Berries – Berries are high in antioxidants, micronutrients, and fiber while being lower in sugar. Strawberries are amongst the highest vitamin C rich foods on the planet, even higher than oranges! Berries have many phytonutrients that have been shown to have anti inflammatory affects on the body.
Conclusion – This list is much more different than the average list you’ll find on the internet. As mentioned earlier, those other rankings fail to take account for the bioavailability and digestibility of most plant foods. Animal foods are simpler superior when it comes to bioavailability and digestibility. Long term optimal health cannot be achieved without appropriate calories and essential nutrients like fat, cholesterol, and micronutrients.