As a holistic nutritionist, I’m often asked what the healthiest foods are, what I think people ‘should’ eat, and what my ‘insider’ tips are for living a long, healthy life.
My answer is always that it’s very important for you, the individual, to create a diet and lifestyle that works for your specific physical needs—a diet that fits into your specific work, play, and lifestyle and that includes food you love to eat.
I believe that the joy of eating should never be missing from your plate, and that the foods that feel amazing in your body and taste amazing on your tongue can and should be the same foods.
That said, there are some foods I consider to be super foods, that I feel anyone could both enjoy and benefit from eating. Whether you follow a specific eating plan or not, here are my personal top 10 foods you should always eat.
Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit deliver huge doses of vitamin C and other immune-boosting nutrients that help your body ward off infections. They’re also incredibly supportive of your bodies’ detoxification systems—especially lemons and limes, which stimulate liver function.
If you’re worried about the acid content of citrus fruit, know that they’re actually alkaline-building after digestion. This is because they’re so rich in minerals that the acid content is neutralized, creating an alkalizing effect in your body overall.
Nutritionist Tip: Start your morning with a glass of room temperature water with the juice of ½-1 lemon or lime to support your liver’s detoxification processes.
Thanks to freezing, berries are now available all-year round. These little nutrient powerhouses are packed full of antioxidants that prevent cellular damage. Berries protect your skin, heart, brain, and all other precious cells in your body.
They’re also jam-packed with fiber, helping keep you regular and squeaky clean!
Nutritionist Tip: All berries have their own special health benefits, so instead of eating only blueberries, branch out! Include raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and even cherries in your regular rotation for a wide range of health benefits.
Walnuts look like a brain, and they’re actually one of the most potent brain-supporting foods.
They’re rich in Omega- 3 fatty acids, which nourish and protect your noodle. Remember, the brain is made up largely of fatty materials, so eating high quality fats (like those found in walnuts) have a powerful protective effect on your cognitive function.
Nutritionist Tip: To keep nuts fresh for as long as possible, pop them in the freezer. They’ll last up to six months in there!
If you’re not already on the avocado train, I suggest you buy yourself a ticket.
These beautiful green fruits are one of the most nourishing in the plant kingdom. Rich in heart-protecting fats, they’re also a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids your body needs from food to create and sustain all the structures making up your body!
They’re also super delicious and versatile, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be indulging in them several times a week.
Nutritionist Tip: To test for ripeness, remove the little stem end that’s left at the top of the avocado. If it’s green and slightly soft to the touch, it’s ready to go. If you remove the stem and see brown, it’s past its prime.
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are your best friend if you ever suffer from digestive upset or constipation. They have a gelling quality, meaning they absorb water and expand in your digestive system as they pass through, while drawing toxins from your body and stimulating your colon to release your bowels.
Chia seeds are incredibly detoxing for this reason. On top of that, they’re packed with antioxidants, Omega-3s, and amino acids.
Nutritionist Tip: Next time you’re a little backed up, grind 1 tbsp. of chia seeds, soak them in 2 tbsp. water for 10 to 20 minutes, and consume before you go to bed. Expect relief by morning!
6. Kale and Leafy Greens
You’re probably sick of people saying you should eat kale by now, but I’m going to beat this point home just one more time. Kale is a powerful alkalizing veggie, which is so important because the increasingly poor soil quality of this day and age means we’re consuming fewer and fewer minerals as a society.
This is bad news for your bones, teeth, and enzyme functions because you need minerals to keep your blood at a constant pH.
When your blood becomes acidic (from stress or insufficient minerals in your diet), you risk losing enzyme function. To compensate, your body draws on the alkaline minerals stored in your bones and teeth, which can weaken and damage them over time.
Regularly consuming mineral-rich greens like kale helps boost your pH to healthy levels, and nourishes your body with its antioxidants, amino acids, and fiber.
Nutritionist Tip: If you struggle with digesting raw kale, steaming or gently cooking it helps break down some of the tough fibers, making it more digestible for you. Also, eating your kale with a vitamin C source increases your body’s ability to absorb the iron in kale by up to 30%!
A powerful anti-inflammatory herb, ginger soothes sore joints, reduces muscle inflammation (especially after a good, sweaty yoga session), and helps keep cellular inflammation at bay. This super herb is also a carminative, cleansing and repairing the digestive tract.
Nutritionist Tip: Add ginger to your salad dressings, grate it finely into miso soup, or mince it into sauces and spreads. You’ll be amazed at the flavor punch!
These little trees deserve a regular spot on your plate. Broccoli is an excellent green packed with easily digested and absorbed calcium. Unlike some other calcium-rich leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, broccoli is very low in oxalates, compounds that inhibit your body's calcium absorption.
Broccoli also contains a compound called Indol-3-Carbinol, a very powerful chemo-protective that supports your liver’s detoxification processes.
Nutritionist Tip: Toss some stalks of broccoli into your next juice or smoothie! It may seem strange but it actually tastes great!
9. Garlic and Sulfur-Rich Foods
Having to deal with your breath after eating garlic is totally worth it for the health benefits. The sulfur in garlic is what gives it its strong odor and its liver-boosting qualities. Garlic is amazing for your heart, your immune system, your detoxification systems, and even your skin!
If there’s one food that could be considered a ‘cure-all,’ garlic may be it.
Nutritionist Tip: Mince your garlic and soak it in lemon, lime, or orange juice for a few minutes to remove some of the harsher flavors and make it more palatable in its raw state—while still retaining all its health-giving properties!
Sprouts should make their way from the hippy food scene into the mainstream. These little guys are so nutrient-dense because they contain everything little seeds need to grow into a plant. Sprouts are mineral-rich, protein-packed, alkalizing, and high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Each specific sprout has its own unique health properties; radish sprouts help the detoxification of excess estrogen, while lentil sprouts are one of the most easily digestible, protein-rich foods on earth. They’re great in salads, soups, dips, spreads, and in green smoothies!
Nutritionist Tip: Growing your own sprouts at home is really easy and far more economical than purchasing sprouted sprouts. Simply buy some dry seeds, soak them overnight, drain and rinse them, and place them in a jar with a cheesecloth over the mouth.
Rinse with water two to three times a day and store upside-down so excess water drains away (you don’t want them sitting in water for long periods of time). In two to three days, you’ll have a jar of sprouted seeds to enjoy! Store in the fridge once sprouted.
Is there anything you would add to this list of super foods? What foods do you always eat?