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The Top Twelve Family Foods

by Dr. William Sears

Admittedly, any "top food" list will have a bit of bias based on personal preferences, but we have tried to honor certain criteria in selecting our top twelve. We believe that the key to healthy eating is to fill your plate with foods that provide high quality nutrition, those foods which are most nutrient dense. This means foods that pack a lot of nutrition alongside relatively few fats and calories. To be on our list, a food must do the following:

  • Supply a significant amount of nutrition per serving
  • Supply nutrients vital to bodily functions
  • Supply nutrients that keep you healthy
  • Be versatile (able to be prepared in a variety of tasty ways)
  • Be readily available at a reasonable price
  • Contain minimal amounts of substances that may be harmful to health (e.g. hydrogenated fats, saturated fats, added sugars)

These foods are listed in alphabetical order, not ranked according to which are the most nutritious.
Avocado B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E
Chickpeas (especially tasty when made into hummus) protein, fiber, folic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, zinc, and iron
Eggs protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, folic acid
Fish (salmon, tuna) protein, niacin, vitamin B-12, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids
Flax seeds and flax oil omega-3 fatty acids, seeds also rich in protein, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin
Kidney Beans protein, fiber, thiamin, folic acid, calcium, zinc, iron
Lentils protein, fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folic acid, iron; most intestines-friendly legume
Sweet potatoes fiber, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, riboflavin, phytonutrients
Tofu (firm) protein, fiber, vitamin A, thiamin, folic acid, calcium, zinc, iron, unsaturated fats, anti- cancer phytonutrients
Tomatoes vitamin A, vitamin C, health-promoting phytonutrients, especially lycopene
Whole grains protein, fiber, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-12, folic acid, zinc, iron
Yogurt (plain, nonfat) protein, calcium, zinc, folic acid, riboflavin, Lactobacilli for colon health
Almonds protein, fiber, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin E, unsaturated fats
Artichokes protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, calcium, zinc, and iron
Broccoli vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, beta carotene, anti-cancer phytonutrients
Cantaloupe carotenoids, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene
Garlic heart-healthy and anticancer phytonutrients
Orange fiber, calcium, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin C, carotenoids
Papaya fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, carotenoids
Peanut butter protein, fiber, niacin, zinc, vitamin E
Peppers (sweet and hot) vitamin A, vitamin C, B-6, health-promoting phytonutrients, folic acid
Pink grapefruit vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids
Sunflower seeds protein, unsaturated fats, fiber, niacin, folic acid, zinc, iron, vitamin E, selenium
Turkey protein, niacin, B-12, zinc, iron