Whole Eggs from pastured chickens are one of the few foods that has almost every essential nutrient except vitamin C. They’re also one of the best sources of choline, which is needed for nervous system function and the reduction of homocysteine, which causes inflammation. It’s important to get pastured eggs if possible because the nutrition in these eggs is greatly improved. Pasture feeding of hens has been shown to significantly increase the vitamin E and omega-3 content of their eggs.
Liver from grass-fed animals is probably the best superfood out there. Chris Kresser calls it “Nature’s multivitamin”. Liver has high levels of iron, zinc, B-vitamins like folate, B12 and B6, choline, fat soluble vitamins like A, D, and K2, and selenium, just to name a few. I don’t particularly like the taste of liver but I make it a priority to include it in my diet as often as possible. I’ll also take dessicated liver pills during time periods where I’m not eating as much fresh liver.
Sauerkraut is a great source of probiotics, especially for people who can’t eat more typical probiotic foods like yogurt or kefir. Also, one of the biggest reasons I think people should eat sauerkraut is because it’s very high in sulfur, which is a vital mineral for overall health. In fact, sulfur deficiency could cause the initiation and progression of many inflammatory and degenerative diseases. Sulfur is necessary for collagen synthesis, which gives the skin its structure and strength. Sulfur is also required for the synthesis of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the body. High levels of glutathione in the body can prevent damage caused by free radicals, which are thought to be the major cause of cellular aging. Glutathione also regulates the production of prostaglandins, reducing inflammation. Fermentation may make this sulfur more bioavailable, so foods like sauerkraut and other fermented cruciferous vegetables are excellent sources of sulfur and an important component of a healthy diet.
Sardines are one of the quickest and easiest ways to add more fatty fish to your diet, which is really important since they’re a great source of undamaged omega-3 fats. Also, sardines happen to be super high in calcium and vitamin D, which is especially important for people who have cut out dairy from their diet. One can of sardines has about 75% of your daily calcium needs! I like to throw sardines on salads for a quick and healthy meal.
Leafy Greens are an important source of folate, vitamin K1, fiber, and antioxidants like carotenoids and flavanoids. All of these nutrients are health promoting by supporting antioxidant defense, reducing inflammation, and possibly even protecting against cancer. I think everyone should try to eat at least one serving per day of leafy greens like spinach, kale, mixed green lettuces, and swiss chard.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene and potassium, and are a great source of Paleo-friendly carbohydrates. Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant that may be protective against inflammation and cancer, and potassium is important for keeping blood pressure low and maintaining muscle mass, since your muscles are the body’s greatest store of potassium. So if you’re not eating enough potassium, your body has to break down muscle to get enough potassium to function. Also, carbohydrates are a necessary component of the diet in some capacity, and sweet potatoes are a quick and delicious source of both carbohydrates and fiber, which helps promote gut health by feeding beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Ghee is one of the best sources of vitamin K2 and conjugated linoleic acid, particularly if the ghee comes from grass fed cows. Some research suggests that CLA has potent anti-atherogenic effects, preventing fatty streak and plaque formation in the arteries. So this suggests that grass-fed dairy are some of the best foods you can eat if you’re looking to prevent a heart attack, since these products are high in both K2 and CLA.
Garlic is a powerful disease fighter that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli. Also, Allicin, which is a compound found in garlic, works as a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels. Allicin is also found in onions, so adding garlic and onions to a meal is a delicious way to improve the nutritional value.
Citrus is a great source of vitamin C, which can be hard to get enough of on a low carb or meat-heavy diet. Certain types of citrus, such as lemon, are almost calorie and sugar free, so even people on low carb diets can easily include them in their diets. I think eating a regular source of vitamin C is really important for antioxidant defense, skin and joint integrity, immune function, and inflammation reduction. If you don’t like citrus, kiwi fruit is another great source of vitamin C.
Seaweed is an amazing source of iodine, which is difficult to get in the diet if you’re not using iodized salt, eating fortified foods, or drinking dairy. Many areas of the United States have soil that is notoriously low in iodine, making it difficult to get enough from your food when eating a whole foods diet. That’s what’s great about seaweed – it’s got a ton of iodine in a very small serving. Try dried seaweed snacks for a salty treat or sprinkle seaweed flakes on top of your food to get a hit of iodine.