We are constantly bombarded with headlines on TV and social media claiming the benefits of some new and radical diet. The number of diets is more than can be listed. So where should you start? What is the optimal diet that has been scientifically proven to reverse chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, autoimmune diseases among others, and maintain an optimal weight?
First, let’s define what your body needs to maintain ideal health. Your body requires certain macronutrients called protein, carbohydrates, and fat, but also needs micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Macronutrients are required in large amounts and provide the body with energy through calories. Micronutrients are required in small amounts and are essential for chemical reactions to occur in the body. Deficiencies of macro or micronutrients can lead to malnutrition and a variety of diseases. Many Americans eating the standard American diet are unknowingly suffering from malnutrition due to their poor diet.
The healthiest foods will contain a high nutrient density to a low-calorie ratio, thus supplying the body with required nutrition without excess calories that can lead to obesity. This means foods should have many nutrients for every calorie, instead of empty calories such as processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Now, which foods contain the highest nutrient density? The answer is simple and is supplied to us by nature, unprocessed whole plant foods especially dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and collard greens.
Whole plant foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans, or legumes. A healthy diet will contain all of these foods every day and contain colors that cover the rainbow. This will ensure that all the nutrients required for optimal health will be consumed on a daily basis. Animal-derived foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, and dairy products are full of saturated fats and cholesterol with a low nutrient density per calorie. Thus, to get the biggest bang for your buck, focus on plants!
Do you need help getting started? Use this free nutrient-dense shopping guide on your next trip to the grocery store.