The 33 Healthiest Foods in the World

There is not just one, single healthiest food in the world… As Balance has identified 33! The variable nutrients and flavors of these healthiest foods pose great opportunities to not only enjoy them, but to obtain the health benefits they uniquely offer!

33 of the World’s Healthiest Foods

1. Quinoa

Although quinoa is a popular swap for rice, it offers a little more than that traditional white grain… Quinoa is considered one of the healthiest foods not only because it is a plant-based protein source, but the fact it is considered a complete protein, meaning it supplies all essential amino acids. Though not considered complete proteins like quinoa, rice, wheat, barley, and corn are also beneficial whole grains.

2. Lentils

Apart of the legume family, lentils are an edible pulse mostly recognized in green, brown, yellow, and red color assortments, complimenting a wide-variety of dishes. Along with supplying protein and fiber, lentils are also supplied with valuable micronutrients, including potassium, folate, iron, phosphorus, manganese, thiamin, and vitamin B6.

3. Beans

Along with their well-known offering of fiber, beans are a significant plant-based protein source (15 g one cup cooked)! In addition to being one of the most cost-friendly healthiest foods, it offers versatile uses in soups and chili, eggs, casseroles, and rice dishes.

4. Chickpeas

Similar to beans, chickpeas are a valuable plant-based protein source, supplying 12 grams per one cup, and offer extensive adaptability. See what delicious recipe bistroMD created with chickpeas here!

5. Tempeh

Though tofu is both popular and beneficial, tempeh deserves great recognition and is measured as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Comparing an equivalent 100 gram serving, tofu supplies a mere one gram of protein while tempeh boasts with nine! Find more on the disparities between tempeh and tofu, along with benefits and uses of each, here.

6. Grassfed Beef

Switching to grass-fed supplies the same well-recognized protein and other nutrients as traditional beef, but towards a larger extent. Compared to grain fed animals, grass-fed beef supplies lesser amounts of saturated fat, but more omega-3 fatty acids. Find more on the benefits of grass-fed beef here.

7. Chicken

Chicken is touted and recognized as one of the world’s healthiest foods related to its large supply of protein without great worry of packing on calories. Chicken also has the ability to take on numerous flavors, including a chicken burrito bowl, chicken and feta meatballs, and cranberry stuffed chicken breasts.

8. Eggs

(Even the yolk!) That morning breakfast staple is packed with protein, healthy fat, and fat-soluble vitamins. Find out where and how you should store those heart healthy eggs here!

9. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish (such as tuna, herring, and salmon) not only supply beneficial protein, but omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a recognized “good fat” and mostly admired for their role in the reduction of cardiovascular disease thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. But aside from protecting the heart, omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to healthy skin and longevity.

10. Walnuts

Of all the nuts, walnuts contain the most omega-3 fatty acids. However, almonds, pecans, pistachios, and other mixed nuts have shown to protect against DNA damage, suppress cancer growth, and reduce inflammation.

11. Pumpkin Seeds

Although pumpkin is infamously known for its incorporation in pies and lattes, its close relative should not go unnoticed… Pumpkin seeds burst with healthy fats and other valuable nutrients, ultimately leading to their beneficial and versatile use in a number of recipes.

12. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are much more than the filler in the old-school chia pets… The tapioca-textured seeds have shown to be highly beneficial to health, mostly related to its unique supply of mucilage, a type of viscous and gelatinous fiber extracted from plant roots and seeds.

13. Olive Oil

The fear of fat has ultimately scurried away some health goers from oils and fats. However, not all fats are treated the same, as olive oil bursts with unsaturated fats showing to protect against heart disease and even reducing after-meal blood sugar levels.

14. Milk

The worry of dairy has spun confusion in the health world, though consuming calcium-packed milk is beneficial for bone support and other numerous health benefits. In fact, chocolate milk is promoted as one of the greatest post-workout recovery drink related to its natural sugar and protein content it supplies.

15. Greek Yogurt

Ditching regular yogurt and going Greek can be highly beneficial to the body, including stimulating muscle growth, promoting bowel regularity, and supporting bone health. Greek yogurt is also extremely versatile and used in yogurt parfaits, yogurt bark, and coleslaw.

16. Apples

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away…” is much more than a catchy health phrase. Apples are substantial carbohydrate and fiber sources, as they lack fat and protein, and contain significant amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and other plant components such as quercetin, catechin, and phlorizin. These compounds are noteworthy antioxidants and largely contribute to apple’s health benefits, including controlling and managing weight, reducing diabetes risk, and protecting against heart disease.

17. Avocadoes

Unlike most fruits, avocadoes are rich in fat. But don’t fret! Avocadoes contain healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats. They are also rich in fiber and folate, two essential nutrients shown to reduce heart disease risk, as well as offering a potent helping of vitamins K, B5, B6, and E and potassium. Find more health benefits of avocado and recipe ideas here.

18. Bananas

Bananas are known for their potassium content, an extremely important mineral and electrolyte, working with sodium inside the body’s cells to create nerve impulses, muscle contractions, and heart function. Fatigue, muscle weakness and cramps, and intestinal and muscular paralysis (the loss of movement and feeling) can also result when potassium levels are abnormal.

19. Berries

Among the fruits, berries offer some of the most antioxidant content! Antioxidants defend and inhibit the process of oxidation, a chemical process and reaction that has the potential to produce free radicals that may harm the body. Contributing to their fiber and antioxidant content, berries can protect against heart disease, as well promote longevity and fight against cancer.

20. Lemons

Life has given us lemons to make more than just lemonade… In fact, one lemon supplies more than 100 percent of daily intake of vitamin C! Vitamin C has key roles in skin and heart health, iron absorption, and potentially lessening the risk of cataracts.

21. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid found in pink and red plants. Though lycopene should not replace a well-formulated sun screen, it may protect the skin against UV damage that shines from the sun. Tomatoes are also a significant source of vitamin A, making it a worthy food to prevent aging, and potassium, showing to support heart health and naturally lower blood pressure.

22. Broccoli

“Eat your broccoli!” will continue ringing at the dinner table, as that cruciferous veggie is one of the world’s healthiest foods. Along with being low in calorie and high in fiber, one medium stalk of broccoli contains more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement and almost 200 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C!

23. Cauliflower

Although the notion to “eat colors of the rainbow” is encouraged for healthy eating, white cauliflower is one of the exceptions to the rule. Cauliflower is low-calorie, supplies ample fiber, bursts with vitamins and minerals, and can be used in extensive recipes, including these cauliflower recipes to enjoy without the guilt!

24. Green, Leafy Vegetables

The push for consuming greens is matter of fact, as kale and spinach protect against DNA damage, reduce the risk of heart disease, and promote digestive health. Increasing intake of green, leafy vegetables is simple and may include enjoying as a salad, sautéing them with garlic and onion, mixing into smoothies, or hiding in tomato or pesto sauces.

25. Mushrooms

Just one cup of brown mushrooms supplies almost 200 percent of total daily needs of vitamin D! Along with its recognized role in supporting bone health, vitamin D also shows to reduce depression risk, promote heart health, regulate blood sugars, maintain weight, inhibit cancer spreading, and protect against the flu.

26. Onions

There’s no reason to cry… Onions have shown to protect against gastric ulcers, reduce cancer risk, and regular blood sugars! The use of onions, along with garlic and other veggies and herbs, also enriches flavors of foods without the need for added salt.

27. Peppers

The capsaicin content in peppers not only offers its spicy flavor, but may boost metabolism by inducing thermogenesis, a process in which the body converts energy into heat. Enjoy mixed into eggs and fajitas or in this bistroMD Greek stuffed peppers recipe!

28. Spaghetti Squash

The use of low-calorie, fiber-packed spaghetti squash offers alternative spaghetti-like “noodles” while offering vitamins A and C. Find out how to cook spaghetti squash and 10 delicious guilt-free ways to enjoy it here!

29. Mint

Not only can mint deter onion and garlic breath, but transpire welfares throughout the entire body. From digestive health to memory enhancement, find the surprising health benefits of mint you need to know about!

30. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers, rejoice! Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants shown to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL levels. When selecting chocolate, choose products with lower sugar content and darker in color to obtain the maximum benefits.

31. Coffee

Considering more than 400 billion cups of coffee are brewed and consumed each year, it is hard not to see the love for this caffeinated beverage… But aside from the initial jolt of energy it is generally sought out for, regular coffee consumption may enhance cognitive functions, promote weight loss, prevent type 2 diabetes, reduce heart disease and cancer risk, and encourage longevity.

32. Green Tea

Cultivated and consumed in India and China for centuries, green tea continues to bare worth and offers evidence-based benefits to the body. Of all the teas, green tea is reported to contain the highest concentration of polyphenols, powerful plant compounds providing antioxidant properties. The consumption of green tea may boost metabolism, facilitate weight loss, lower the risk of heart disease, manage diabetes, protect against cancer, and several other benefits.

33. Water

But perhaps the worthiest beverage of them all… Water! Keeping hydrated is essential for supporting an efficient metabolism, enabling digestive processes, eliminating body waste, delivering oxygen throughout the body, regulating body temperature, and, well, sustaining life! In fact, researchers suggest the body can only survive three days without water!