Mix and match 5 to 10 food items from the list to meet your daily nutrient requirements within your budget.
If there is a single food item that comes close to containing all the essential nutrients required by a human body, that would be a human mother’s milk. Unfortunately, that is one food item that is no longer available to adults for daily dietary intake. We could try eating as many food items and in so much quantities as possible to meet our daily nutrient requirement. That is not efficient though and perhaps, could result to an unhealthy consequence.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if we know five to ten food items that when combined, could provide most if not all our daily required nutrients? Indeed, food like these would save the day! I pored over the food databases published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health Canada. From the millions of food items, I focused my analysis on items that had been calculated or chemically analyzed by either USDA or Health Canada. The initial list consisted of eight thousand (8000) fresh and semi-processed food items that contain at least 20 essential nutrients. I applied an additional criterion: 100 grams of the food item must contain at least twenty (20) of the 22 tracked nutrients OR contain at least five of the twenty-two (22) tracked nutrients at quantities exceeding 25% of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA). The 22 tracked nutrients are:
|1. Carbohydrates||9. Selenium||17. Vitamin B9-Folate|
|2. Fiber||10.Zinc||18. Vitamin B12|
|3. Protein||11. Vitamin A||19. Vitamin C|
|4. Calcium||12. Vitamin B1-Thiamin||20. Vitamin D|
|5. Copper||13. Vitamin B2-Riboflavin||21. Vitamin E|
|6. Iron||14. Vitamin B3-Niacin||22. Vitamin K|
|7. Magnesium||15. Vitamin B5-Panthothenic acid|
|8. Phosphorus||16. Vitamin B6-Pyridoxine|
The additional criterion narrowed down the list to one hundred-fifty food items. Many of these food items contain more than ten (10) nutrients at quantities of 25% or more of the RDA. Some food items are available only at specific geographic locations; some can be very expensive. The 150 superfood list hopes to overcome these challenges. Moreover, the list is a great reference for vegetarians and/or those who follow specific dietary regimen.
From the superfood list, I selected 20 items that form part of my pantry staples. I chose these for five reasons (i) ease of preparation/cooking (ii) availability: I could grab any of these anytime at my neighborhood grocery store or just one click from the best online grocery store (iii) versatility: I could mix any three or four items and I have an appetizer, main dish, or dessert (iv) affordability (v) most importantly, I get my daily required dietary nutrient intakes. Items that are marked $ cost less than USD 4 a pound at my local stores.
|Food Item||Food Type||Nutrients > 25% of RDA||Cost|
|Quinoa, uncooked||Cereal Grains and Pasta||Carbs, Fiber, Protein, Iron, Mg, P, Zn, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9|
|Pasta, dry, enriched||Cereal Grains and Pasta||Carb, Protein, P, Se, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9||$|
|Wheat germ, plain||Cereal Grains and Pasta||Carb, Fiber, Protein, Iron, Mg, P, Se, Zn, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, E|
|Soy flour, full-fat, raw||Legume||Carb, Fiber, Protein, Iron, Mg, P, Zn, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9,K|
|Lentils beans, cooked, boiled||Legume||Fiber, P, Vitamin B9||$|
|Egg, whole, fresh, raw||Eggs and Dairy||P, Se, Vitamins B2, B5, B12, D||$|
|Cheddar Cheese||Eggs and Dairy||Protein, Calcium, P, Se, Zn, Vitamins A, B2, B12|
|Buttermilk, dried||Eggs and Dairy||Carb, Protein, Calcium, Mg, P, Se, Zn, Vitamins B1, B2, B5, B12|
|Atlantic Salmon, wild, raw||Fish||Protein, P, Se, Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B12|
|Cantaloupe||Fruits||Vitamins A, C||$|
|Blueberries, dried||Fruits||Carb, Fiber, Vitamins C, K|
|Kiwi, raw||Fruits||Vitamins C, K|
|Chicken liver, raw||Meat||Protein, Iron, P, Se, Zn, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12||$|
|Beef steak, baked or broiled||Meat||Protein, P, Se, Zn, B3, B6, B12|
|Chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao||Sweets||Carb, Fiber, Iron, Mg, P, Zn|
|Kale, raw||Vegetable||Calcium, Vitamins A, C, B2, K||$|
|Dandelion greens, boiled||Vegetable||Vitamins A, K||$|
|Okra. raw||Vegetable||Vitamins C, K||$|
|Swiss Chard, raw||Vegetable||Mg, Vitamins A, C, K||$|
|Carrots, raw||Vegetable||Vitamin A||$|
Build your own twenty; check out the List 150 Superfood and let me know whether this helps you. While there, click the “Read more” button to see the nutrition fact details such as Protein, Calcium, Cholesterol, Fats, Sugar, Sodium, Potassium, Calories, and the like per 100 grams or per portion.
Spices and herbs don’t bring just flavor and aroma to the table. They bring nutrients too.
What do Spanakotiropita (Spinach and Cheese Pie), Dolmathakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves), Maroulosalata (Lettuce Salad), and Tzatziki sauce have in common? For starters, they all are popular Greek dishes. More importantly, they all are flavored or spiced with dill, mint, and parsley. Dill is light and citrusy with warm, grassy aroma. Mint reminds you of fresh and cool aroma and flavor. Parsley has a peppery taste with a hint of earthiness. While these three herbs sing together in harmony, they each come with many nutrients.
- Dill contains 21 essential nutrients and is rich in Iron.
- Mint contains 21 essential nutrients and is rich in Protein, Fiber, and Iron.
- Parsley contains 22 essential nutrients and is rich in Protein, Fiber, and Iron.
Have you tried Tandoori Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala? How about Lamb Mughlai Biryani? The flavors of these food pop like a New Year's Eve party in your mouth. These food are all prepared with bay leaves, cloves, red chili powder, black cardamom pods, and a host of other spices and herbs depending on where you are in South Asia. A few profile highlights of the spices:
- Bay leaf contains 20 essential nutrients and is rich in Fiber, Calcium, and Iron. It has an herbal and floral aroma profile.
- Cloves is intensely aromatic with sweet and subtle spicy flavor notes. It contains 29 essential nutrients and is rich in Fiber, Calcium, and Iron.
- Cardamom pods has a smoky aroma with coolness similar to mint. It has 20 essential nutrients and is rich in Fiber, Calcium, and Iron.
If you are in Mexico, the locals will tell you that you must try Pozole de Guajolote ( Wild Turkey Stew) , Tacos al Pastor, and Enchilada. While these delicious fares have distinct flavors, they all have notes of garlic, cumin, and cilantro. These three herbs and spice have the following highlights:
- Garlic- Pungent and savory, it contains 25 essential nutrients and is rich in Protein, Fiber, and Iron.
- Cumin has a warm, earthy, and distinctive flavor and aroma. It contains 29 essential nutrients and is rich in Protein, Fiber, Calcium , and Iron.
- Cilantro has tart and lemony taste. It contains 26 essential nutrients and is rich in Protein, Fiber, and Iron.
Ready to be bold and adventurous? Try different world cuisine; the spicier, the better. Every little bit of nutrients add up. Learn the nutrient facts of your favorite spice. Click Spices and Herbs Library.
Do you know that a cup of unsweetened almond milk contains 449 mg of calcium? That is almost 50% of an adult male's Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Calcium. There's more! A cup of cooked kale contains 354 mg of Calcium. The best part is these contain zero cholesterol.
Calcium is an essential nutrient. Our body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Calcium is also needed to regulate muscle contractions, including heartbeat. Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA) is the average daily level intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly(97%-98%) healthy individuals. The Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine sets the RDA. Table below lists the current RDA for calcium to promote bone maintenance and neutral calcium balance.
|14-18 years||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg||1,300 mg|
|19-50 years||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg||1,000 mg|
|51-70 years||1,000 mg||1,200 mg|
|>70 years||1,200 mg||1,200 mg|
Milk and milk products are major sources of calcium and easily available. A glass of whole milk contains 146 calories yet packed with 300 mg of calcium. Consumed on its own or mixed with your favorite cereal to start your day, a glass of milk will provide you 30% of your calcium daily requirement. For breakfast or just before lunch, a 6 0z container of plain non-fat yogurt contains only 107 calories yet packed with 338 mg of calcium meeting a third of your daily calcium requirement. Planning to have a salad for lunch? Mix it with White Cheese or Queso Blanco. Half a cup of crumbled Queso Blanco contains more than 400 mg of calcium at less than 200 calories.
Indeed, milk and milk products provide fun and enjoyable ways to meet your daily calcium requirement. However, there are individuals who cannot or do not consume milk and milk products due to medical reasons, dietary preferences, or both.
Studies published by the National Institute of Health estimated that around two-thirds of the world’s population have lactose intolerance. It further estimated that 36% of Americans have lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance (LI) is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar primarily found in milk and milk products. While not dangerous, LI symptoms can be distressing; symptoms include bloating, nausea, gas, cramps, and diarrhea within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk or milk products. Vegans do not eat food that come from animals including dairy products and eggs.
Eliminating milk and milk products from your diet could potentially deprive you of calcium unless alternative sources are taken such as calcium-fortified juices, non-dairy milks, and/or calcium supplements. Nyoot compiled a list of 55 non-dairy food items that contains at least 250 mg of calcium per portion, to name a few:
- Dried smelt. 1 oz contains 450 mg of calcium, 109 calories, and more than 20 other essential nutrients.
- Almond milk, unsweetened. 1 cup contains 449 mg of calcium, 37 calories, and more than 20 other essential nutrients.
- Kale, fresh and cooked. 1 cup contains 354 mg of calcium, 49 calories, and more than 24 other essential nutrients.
- Soy milk. 1 cup contains 300 mg of calcium, 105 calories, and more than 20 other essential nutrients.
- Coconut milk. 1 cup contains 459 mg of calcium, 76 calories, and more than 10 other essential nutrients.
- Canned sardines with bones. 1 cup contains 569 mg of calcium, 310 calories, and more than 25 other essential nutrients.
Click Non-dairy Calcium-rich Food List for the full list. Make sure to click "read more" to learn the nutritional facts such as calories, fats, cholesterol, vitamins, and mineral content of each food item.