Readers wrote to tell me that when they shifted their meals to include more of the World’s Healthiest Foods, they not only experienced enhanced health, but—without even trying—those who wanted to lose weight found that they were readily doing so. The research we did helped us to more clearly understand why Readers lost weight and why the World’s Healthiest Foods were so effective in weight loss.
And now let me explain why it can work for you. The reason these foods are so beneficial is that they are concentrated sources of a vast array of health-promoting nutrients. Nutrient-richness is the term I use to describe this remarkable feature of the World’s Healthiest Foods. I want to explain more about the benefits of this key criterion of the World’s Healthiest Foods, so you can fully understand why it’s so important.
Nutrient-richness is a measurement of the concentration of nutrients a food can deliver in exchange for the amount of calories it contains. On the World’s Healthiest Foods website (www.WHFoods.org) and in my book, The World’s Healthiest Foods, nutrient-richness is shown both qualitatively (a food may be defined as a good, very good, or excellent source of a particular nutrient) and quantitatively (the numerical scores that a food achieves in association with each particular nutrient).
The latest scientific research clearly shows that successful weight loss requires that we eat nutrient-rich foods. In large, nationwide studies that have included both healthy-weight and overweight participants, insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals has been consistently linked to higher body weights. Eating few fresh vegetables and fruits leads not only to inadequate nourishment, but has also been linked to weight problems. In studies of overweight children attempting to lose weight, increased consumption of nutrientrich vegetables has also been associated with better weight loss success.
New evidence associates diets high in salads, vegetables, and fruits and low in processed and refined foods with healthy weight because they contain phytonutrients—beneficial compounds found exclusively in fruits and vegetables that possess the power to help keep us healthy and help the body maintain an optimal, healthy weight. Also salads, vegetables, and fruits are rich in antioxidants, which we need if we want to lose weight. Studies show that overweight individuals have higher levels of oxidative stress from an excess of free radicals and lack of antioxidants.
The Nutrients We Need Each Day
Each day, we need hundreds of nutrients to stay healthy, and these nutrients must be supplied by the food we eat.
The following chart will give you a sense of the variety of some of the nutrients we must get each day from our food if we wish to experience a healthy weight and optimal health. Please note that this chart is by no means comprehensive; it doesn’t show you all of the nutrients you need.
For example, phytonutrients—plant nutrients such as carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthan) and flavonoids (anthocyanins, catechins, quercetin)—are now known to be essential to health, but while researchers have identified approximately 10,000 phytonutrients, they estimate at least 40,000 phyonutrients may eventually be catalogued.