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11 of the most nutritious foods 2022

nutritious food
Discover 11 of the most nutritious foods we're loving in 2022, what nutrient goodness they contain, their benefits, and tips on how to eat them.

There is only so much you can eat in a day, so you need to make it count with nutrient-dense foods.

Our bodies need lots of different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep it healthy, making a healthy diet packed with essential nutrients very important.

But which foods contain the most?

To give you some inspiration we’ve put together a list of 11 of the most nutritious foods you can find, along with their nutritional values, health benefits, and how to use them.

11 of the most nutritious foods 2022

Here are our top 11 most nutrient-dense foods, chosen for their unique varieties and concentrations of the nutrients we need to thrive.

  1. Blueberries
  2. Potatoes
  3. Seaweed
  4. Kale
  5. Garlic
  6. Salmon
  7. Mackerel
  8. Anchovies
  9. Mussels
  10. Eggs
  11. Dark chocolate

Most nutritious fruits

The most nutritious fruits are...

  1. Blueberries

Small but mighty, blueberries are the star of the show when it comes to nutritious fruit.

They have a good nutrient profile, especially when it comes to vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese, but they really shine when it comes to their antioxidant levels.

Antioxidants help to reduce protect cells from oxidative damage, including brain cells.1

There have been several studies into blueberries and human health, including one that showed that blueberries improved the memory of older adults.2

Nutrition of blueberries

  100g blueberries, raw
Calories 57kcal
Carbohydrates 14g
Of which sugars 10g
Fats 0.3g
Saturated fats 0g
Protein 0.7g
Fibre 2.4g
Vitamin B1 0.037mg (3% DV)*
Vitamin B2 0.041mg (3% DV)
Vitamin B3 0.418mg (3% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.052mg (4% DV)
Vitamin C 9.7mg (11% DV)
Vitamin E 0.57mg (3% DV)
Vitamin K 19.3mcg (16% DV)
Copper 0.6mg (7% DV)
Iron 0.3mg (2% DV)
Potassium 77mg (2% DV)
Manganese 0.336mg (15% DV)3

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy blueberries: plonk some blueberries into your morning bowl of yoghurt, oats, or a smoothie, or enjoy them as their naturally sweet selves as a snack throughout the day.

Most nutritious vegetables

The most nutritious vegetables are...

  1. Potatoes

Whether you stay classic with white potatoes or spice it up with a sweet potato, all potatoes are highly nutritious.

The humble spud contains a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. They’re full of B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, iron and manganese, as well as a healthy serving of fibre.

Potatoes are great for keeping you full, too. One study found that it scored higher than any other food measured in satiety values.4

Nutrition of potatoes

  100g potatoes, raw
Calories 58kcal
Carbohydrates 12g
Fats 0.1g
Saturated fats 0g
Protein 2.6g
Fibre 2.5g
Vitamin B3 1.033mg (6% DV)
Vitamin B5 0.302mg (6% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.239mg (18% DV)
Vitamin C 11.4mg (13% DV)
Copper 0.42mg (47% DV)
Iron 3.24mg (18% DV)
Potassium 413mg (9% DV)
Manganese 0.602mg (26% DV)5

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy potatoes: mash them, roast them, boil them, fry them, steam them – there are so many ways to enjoy a potato. The healthiest way to enjoy them is by steaming them, as this process locks in more of the nutrients.

  1. Seaweed

Although it may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of seafood, seaweed is a highly nutritious treat often used in Asian cuisine.

It’s particularly rich in vitamin B9 (folic acid) and other B vitamins, iron, and copper.

Nutrition of seaweed:

  100g seaweed, raw
Calories 41kcal
Carbohydrates 7.9g
Of which sugars 0.6g
Fats 0.5g
Saturated fats 0.1g
Protein 3.5g
Fibre 0.7g
Vitamin A 95mcg (11% DV)*
Vitamin B1 0.069mg (6% DV)
Vitamin B2 0.275mg (21% DV)
Vitamin B3 1.180mg (7% DV)
Vitamin B9 174mcg (44% DV)
Vitamin C 15mg (17% DV)
Vitamin K 25.1mcg (21% DV)
Copper 0.23mg (26% DV)
Iron 2.28mg (13% DV)
Calcium 129mg (10% DV)
Phosphorus 60mg (9% DV)
Zinc 0.89mg (8% DV)6

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy seaweed: You can find it in dishes like sushi, where it is often referred to as nori, as well as in miso soup. There are also supplements and even crisp alternatives made out of seaweed if you fancy something different.

  1. Kale

If there was ever a king of the leafy greens, kale would be it!

Kale is full of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and manganese. And let’s not forget the fibre it’s packing.

Kale is also rich in antioxidants and bioactive compounds that have a protective effect on the body.7

Nutrition of kale

  100g kale, raw
Calories 35kcal
Carbohydrates 4.4g
Of which sugars 1g
Fats 1.5g
Saturated fats 0.2g
Protein 2.9g
Fibre 4.1g
Vitamin A 241mcg (27% DV)*
Vitamin B1 0.113mg (9% DV)
Vitamin B2 0.347mg (27% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.147mg (11% DV)
Vitamin B9 62mcg (16% DV)
Vitamin C 93.4mg (104% DV)
Vitamin K 389.6mcg (325% DV)
Copper 0.05mg (6% DV)
Iron 1.6mg (9% DV)
Calcium 254mg (20% DV)
Manganese 0.920mg (40% DV)
Phosphorus 55mg (8% DV)8

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy kale: kale makes a great alternative to spinach and other leafy green veg for any meal. Try it on your Sunday roast or sauté it with lemon and garlic to accompany fish, meat, or tofu.

  1. Garlic

Garlic is loved the world over, even if it does make us smelly! But it has good reason to be up there with our favourite foods as it is just as nutritious as it is tasty.

It’s high in protein, vitamin C, selenium, as well as it’s active ingredient allicin. The allicin compound has been found to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as raise levels of good cholesterol.9,10,11,12

Raw garlic has also been found to have powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties.13,14

Nutrition of garlic

  100g garlic, raw
Calories 143kcal
Carbohydrates 28g
Fats 0.4g
Protein 6.6g
Fibre 2.7g
Vitamin C 10mg (11% DV)*
Selenium 9.8mcg (18% DV)15

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy garlic: garlic easily enhances most meals, from curries and stir frys to loaves of fresh bread and pasta.

Most nutritious animal products

The most nutritious animal products are...

  1. Salmon

Oily fish are incredibly healthy, and salmon is one of the most nutritious out there.

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for optimum health, especially when it comes to the heart and the brain.

Research suggests that people who eat oily fish regularly have a lower risk of developing dementia, depression, heart disease, and other health conditions.16,17,18,19

Nutrition of salmon

  100g salmon, raw
Calories 127kcal
Carbohydrates 0g
Of which sugars 0g
Fats 4.4g
Saturated fats 0.8g
Omega-3 0.56g
Protein 21g
Fibre 0g
Vitamin A 35mcg (4% DV)*
Vitamin B1 0.08mg (7% DV)
Vitamin B2 0.105mg (8% DV)
Vitamin B3 7.995mg (50% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.611mg (47% DV)
Vitamin B12 4.15mcg (173% DV)
Vitamin D 10.9mcg (54% DV)
Copper 0.06mg (7% DV)
Magnesium 27mg (7% DV)
Phosphorus 261mg (37% DV)
Potassium 366mg (8% DV)
Selenium 31.4mcg (57% DV)20

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy salmon: salmon is full of protein, making it a great start to the day – smoked salmon bagel, anybody? As well as a nourishing meal after you’ve exercised, e.g. a salmon stir fry with fresh veggies.

  1. Mackerel

Another oily fish that serves a big shout out is mackerel.

Just like salmon, it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins.

This means it can help support healthy hearts and brains, as well as provide a tasty meal.

Nutrition of mackerel

  100g mackerel, raw
Calories 189kcal
Carbohydrates 0g
Of which sugars 0g
Fats 12g
Saturated fats 2.9g
Omega 3s 2.2g
Protein 19g
Fibre 0g
Vitamin A 40mcg (4% DV)*
Vitamin B1 0.155mg (13% DV)
Vitamin B2 0.348mg (27% DV)
Vitamin B3 8.829mg (55% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.376mg (29% DV)
Vitamin B12 7.29mcg (304% DV)
Vitamin D 13.8mcg (69% DV)
Vitamin E 1.35mg (6% DV)
Copper 0.08mg (9% DV)
Iron 1.48mg (8% DV)
Magnesium 60mg (15% DV)
Phosphorus 187mg (27% DV)
Selenium 41.6mcg (76% DV)21

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy mackerel: mackerel tastes wonderful served with new potatoes, pasta, salad, roasted vegetables, rice, or any other way you want to cook it. Try swapping it for salmon in a couple of dishes to see if you like it.

  1. Anchovies

Anchovies are one of the only types of fish we like to eat whole, which makes it an amazingly nutritious snack.

Although you may enjoy anchovies in Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salads, or on pizzas, you can simply snack on them whole.

Eating the organs and bones increases our nutrient intake instantly, and they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient our bodies need.22

Nutrition of anchovies

  100g anchovies, drained
Calories 210kcal
Carbohydrates 0g
Of which sugars 0g
Fats 9.7g
Saturated fats 2.2g
Omega 3s 2.1g
Protein 29g
Fibre 0g
Vitamin B1 0.078mg (6% DV)*
Vitamin B2 0.263mg (28% DV)
Vitamin B3 19.903mg (124% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.203mg (16% DV)
Vitamin B12 0.88mcg (37% DV)
Vitamin D 1.7mcg (8% DV)
Vitamin E 3.33mg (15% DV)
Copper 0.34mg (28% DV)
Iron 4.63mg (26% DV)
Magnesium 69mg (17% DV)
Phosphorus 252mg (36% DV)
Selenium 68.1mcg (124% DV)
Calcium 232mg (18% DV)
Potassium 544mg (12% DV)
Zinc 2.44mg (22% DV)23

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy anchovies: snacking on them whole will get you the most nutrient nourishment, but if that’s not your thing, try anchovies in pasta, salads, and in fishy stews.

  1. Mussels 

All sorts of shellfish, including mussels, are very nutritious.

For example, mussels are one of the best sources of vitamin B12 you can find.

Other shellfish with equally nutritious profiles include oysters, clams, and scallops.

Nutrition of mussels

  100g mussels, raw
Calories 86kcal
Carbohydrates 3.7g
Of which sugars 0g
Fats 2.2g
Saturated fats 0.4g
Omega 3s 0.46g
Protein 12g
Fibre 0g
Vitamin B1 0.160mg (13% DV)*
Vitamin B2 0.210mg (16% DV)
Vitamin B3 1.6mg (10% DV)
Vitamin B9 42mcg (10% DV)
Vitamin B12 12mcg (500% DV)
Copper 0.09mg (10% DV)
Iron 3.95mg (22% DV)
Magnesium 34mg (8% DV)
Phosphorus 197mg (28% DV)
Selenium 44.8mcg (81% DV)
Zinc 1.6mg (15% DV)24

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy mussels: mussels are classically served steamed with a creamy white wine sauce, but you can flavour the sauce however you like, e.g. Thai curry, spicy tomato, simple garlic.

  1. Eggs

Eggs are small powerhouses when it comes to nutrition, with their impressive vitamin and mineral profile, as well as their high protein and fat content.

Sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s multivitamin’, eggs are known for their nutrient profile. The yolks are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B2, selenium and phosphorus.

They’re also full of antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which help support your eye health.25

Nutrition of eggs

  100g eggs, raw, whole
Calories 143kcal
Carbohydrates 0g
Of which sugars 0g
Fats 9.5g
Saturated fats 3.1g
Protein 13g
Fibre 0g
Vitamin A 160mcg (18% DV)*
Vitamin B2 0.475mg (35% DV)
Vitamin B6 0.170mg (13% DV)
Vitamin B9 47mcg (12% DV)
Vitamin D 2mcg (10% DV)
Iron 1.75mg (10% DV)
Phosphorus 198mg (28% DV)
Selenium 68.1mcg (124% DV)
Zinc 1.29mg (12% DV)26

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

Other nutritious foods

Another nutritious food is...

  1. Dark chocolate

Chocolate has a bad rep in the world of health, but did you know that dark chocolate is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet?

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa count (70%+) is rich in fibre, iron, calcium, and antioxidants – even more than blueberries and the popular acai berry from the Amazon rainforest.

Research into dark chocolate found that it can help support blood pressure, blood flow, brain function, and cholesterol.27,28,29

Nutrition of dark chocolate

  100g dark chocolate
Calories 571kcal
Carbohydrates 51g
Of which sugars 37g
Fats 9.7g
Saturated fats 37g
Protein 8.6g
Fibre 8.6g
Iron 8.57mg (48% DV)
Calcium 103mg (8% DV)30

*DV: % daily value tells you how much nutrition is in a serving of food and how it contributes to a balanced daily diet.

How to enjoy dark chocolate: simply swap for your favourite bar of milk chocolate and use in the same way. However, it may taste slightly bitter at first, so try bars flavoured with fruit or nuts if you need help transitioning over to the dark side!

The final say

We hope that has helped you see how amazingly nutritious some foods can be, and why you should consider adding them to your diet.

Not got much time to be prepping nutritious meals in the kitchen? Why not delve into the world of nutritionally complete foods?

They contain all the essential nutrients and are super convenient, so you can enjoy complete nutrition even when you’re on the go.

Last updated: 4 January 2022

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21355205
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850944/
  3. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Blueberries%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7498104
  5. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Potatoes%2C_skin%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html
  6. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Seaweed%2C_raw_75127500_nutritional_value.html
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18504070
  8. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Kale%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  9. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.5557/abstract
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20594781
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19060427
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23169470
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15616341
  14. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1601-5037.2007.00230.x/abstract
  15. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Garlic%2C_raw_1104647_nutritional_value.html
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16825676
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399342
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745067
  19. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924977X03000324
  20. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Salmon%2C_raw_26137100_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  21. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Mackerel%2C_raw_26121100_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  22. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175140/nutrients
  23. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Anchovy%2C_canned_26101180_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  24. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Mussels%2C_raw_26313100_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10426702
  26. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Egg%2C_raw%2C_whole_31101010_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301923
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17609490
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684527
  30. https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Dark_chocolate_576166_nutritional_value.html?size=100+g
 

Disclaimer

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
 

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