150 Star Foods

To facilitate the myriad of biochemical processes that go on inside us each and every day we all need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

To get these nutrients we need to eat a wide variety of different kinds of food, but, alarmingly, many of us eat a very restricted diet in which we repeatedly choose only our favourite meals. 

star aniseIn contrast, I noted that people in Japan – where I was lucky enough to live for nine years - eat a far more varied diet, often consuming around 100 different varieties of food each week. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the United Kingdom finds itself at Number 20 in the world rankings for life expectancy, while Japan finds itself at Number 1?

So why not aim to up your intake of healthy ingredients? Here I‟ve identified 150 of the best on Planet Earth, my 'Star Foods', beginning with the most important group – fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and Vegetables (1-38)

The Basics
red pepper

Red and orange peppers Rich in disease-fighting antioxidants, they contain three times as much vitamin C as citrus fruit, and they have antibacterial qualities.

Broccoli A cancer fighting veg, it‟s high in Calcium, folate and antioxidants.

Carrots They have cholesterol lowering properties and are rich in Vitamin A, which is good for your eyes.

Sweet potatoes Rich in Fibre, vitamin C, folate, iron, copper and calcium; sweet potatoes are also bursting with Vitamin A.

Watercress Packed with folate, iron and betacarotene, and good for cardiovascular and thyroid function, too.

Tomatoes They‟re packed with vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene.

Red cabbage Rich in fibre, vitamin C, betacarotene and disease-fighting sulphorate.

Blueberries Loaded with anthocyans, vitamin C and fibre. A great source of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Apples Rich in Vitamin C and soluble fibre, which is gentler on your gut than insoluble fibre. 

Peaches Easily digested & has a cleansing effect on your kidneys and bladder, too.

Brussels Sprouts loaded with calcium, potassium and folate.

Avocado provides 20 essential nutrients including fibre, B and E vitamins.

Cauliflower is low in fat and high in fibre with anti-cancer properties.

Courgette is not just for the summer gardener as it is low in calories and high in folate, potassium, manganese and vitamin A.

Cucumber low GI load of 1 and is a very good source of vitamin C, K and potassium.

Lettuce there are many types of lettuce from hearty romaine to peppery watercress. Iceburg being the least nutritious. All lettuce will ad digestion and promote liver health.

Grapes contain phytochemicals such as resveratrol and has been positively linked with inhibiting cancer and heart disease.

Lemons taste acidic but as soon as they interact with the body, they turn alkaline.

Mushrooms over 14000 types of mushrooms in the world, but only 3000 are edible. The Japanese praise the medicinal properties of the maitake, shiitake and reishi mushrooms.

Olives are low in cholesterol and high in fibre and iron.

Asparagus High in nutrients, especially vitamin K (important for blood clotting) and folic acid. A good liver tonic.

Super Boosters

Beansprouts Rich in vitamin B3, which keeps down cholesterol levels and regulates blood sugar. Also rich in biochemicals that aid digestion.
auberginesAubergines Full of calcium and betacarotene, aubergines are good for the cardio-vascular system .

Mangetout Good source of fibre and rich in vitamins A, C and K.

Watermelon An "anti-aging‟ fruit rich in lycopene and immune-boosting vitamin C.

Pineapple Contains bromelain, an important digestive enzyme that kills bacteria. It‟s an anti-bloat food, too.

Raspberries Provide around 40% of your daily dose of vitamin C as well as other powerful antioxidants.

Kiwi fruit Very rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, which are vital for healthy nerves and muscles. One kiwi contains your reference nutrient intake of vitamin C.

Cranberries Rich in anti-aging antioxidants; help prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries and may help to prevent urinary tract infections.

Pomegranate Hailed as a new super fruit, thanks to high levels of Vitamins A, C & E and other antioxidants.

Goji Berries These Asian fruits contain up to 21 trace minerals. They‟re said to be the richest source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, of all known foods. Available as dried fruits from healthfood shops.

Rocket (also known as Arugula) only 14 calories per 100 grams. High in vit A & C. 

Cress has a peppery, tangy flavour that is high in trace minerals and vitamin A.

Guava  This super fruit is rich in vitamin A and C.

Parsley is a must for every kitchen window sill. High in vitamin A and C and rich in iron and calcium. A perfect natural booster to any meal.

Mango is the “King of Fruits” and comes in over 1000 varieties. The phenolic compound found in mangoes has been found to have powerful antioxidant and anticancer properties.

Chard is a good source of thiamine, folate and zinc but be careful as it is slightly high in sodium.

Nori Dry seaweed sheets are rich in iodine, calcium and zinc. Can be used in stews, sushi and omelettes.

Carbohydrates (39-50)

There are two kinds of carbohydrate: complex and simple. Normally in life we‟re told to keep things simple and avoid overcomplicating things; however, with carbohydrates, we should do the opposite! Simple carbohydrates are all the naughty ones like chocolates, cakes and sweets that provide us with „empty‟ calories - calories galore with very few useful nutrients thrown in for good measure!

The problem with simple carbohydrates is that their high concentration of sugar breaks down very quickly, giving you an energy „high‟ followed quickly by an energy „low‟. 

In contrast, complex carbohydrates like oats, millet, maize, rice and wheat provide us with energy in a slow-release form, and they provide us with vitamins and minerals.

Brown rice Good source of energy, as well as B Vitamins.brown rice

Pearl barley Linked with lower cholesterol levels, good for the digestive tract and contains zinc, which boosts the immune system.

Oats A superb energy source, rich in fibre, they reduce cholesterol and are packed with minerals and vitamin B5 – important for hair, skin and nails.

Quinoa Good source of protein, vitamin E and iron, plus zinc, which is good for the immune system.

Spelt A distant relative of wheat, but it‟s more easily absorbed by the body.

Rye Contains iron and B vitamins. Regular intakes of rye are linked with lower rates of heart disease.

Buckwheat High in protein, use this gluten-free grain in flour form for bread, pancakes etc.

Millet This gluten-free carb is great as an alternative to rice. Contains zinc, iron, vitamins B3 and E.

Soba Noodles Usually made from buckwheat, they may have wheat flour added. Contain selenium and zinc.

Couscous A source of slow release carbohydrate, it‟s rich in vitamin B3, which provides energy. Also rich in minerals and vitamin B5 – important for healthy hair, skin and nails.

Bulgur / cracked wheat Both good sources of slow-releasing carbs.

Amaranth is high in protein and a good alternative to wheat.

Protein (51-75)

Protein is essential for growth and repair. As for how much to eat, a rough guide is to clench your fist and eat the same volume of protein with every meal! 

The Basics

Walnuts A good source of omega-3‟s and antioxidants.

Shellfish Most varieties are high in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Turkey Rich source of vitamin B12, potassium, zinc and iron.walnuts

Chickpeas Rich in phyto-oestrogens, which are linked with lower rates of some cancers.

Eggs One egg provides a third of your Vitamin B12 needs, essential for the nervous system.

Kidney Beans Great Source of fibre and are rich in complex carbs.

Tofu Low-fat protein that contains some iron, zinc and B vitamins.

Mackerel The richest fish source of omega-3's.

Edamame A soya bean that's rich in cancer-fighting isoflavones.

Venison Lower in saturated fats than other red meats.

Almonds are low in saturated fat and high in magnesium and calcium.

Adzuki Beans are mainly used in macrobiotic cooking as they are hign in protein but have 0% sodium and cholesterol.

Black Turtle Beans are great for levelling out blood sugar levels. Just 1 cup of black beans will give you 174% of your daily intake of trace mineral molybdenum.

Tempeh is a fermented soya delicacy rich in B12.

Chestnuts are made up of primarily complex carbohydrate and have a low glycaemic index (GI).  They are low in protein, very low in fat, and are cholesterol free.  They contain reasonable quantities of vitamin C and potassium, but have very low sodium levels.  They are gluten free.

Super Boosters

Mussels Provide an excellent supply of B12. Rich in selenium and iodine, which helps thyroid function.mussels

Mung Beans Most nutrititious when sprouted, they‟re rich in minerals, phyto-oestrogens and vitamin C.

Rabbit Lower in fat than other red meats and is rich in iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

Pumpkin seeds A particularly good source of iron and zinc.

Dulse (seaweed) High in vitamin B, iron and potassium.

Hijiki  has a good calcium and magnesium balance. The ratio of calcium to magnesium in hijiki is 2 to 1.

Coconut Oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antibacterial and anti-viral.

Hemp About 30–35% of the weight of hempseed is hempseed oil or hemp oil, an edible oil that contains about 80% essential fatty acids. 

Watermelon is rich in carotenoids. Some of the carotenoids in watermelon include lycopene, phytofluene, phytoene, beta-carotene, lutein.

Maitake, shiitake, and reishi mushrooms have many overlapping properties: all boost immune function, all support cardiovascular health, and all show promise in lowering the risk of - or treating - cancer. However, maitake is specifically recommended for the stomach and intestines, as well as blood sugar levels; shiitake treats nutritional deficiencies and liver ailments; and reishi promotes respiratory health. 

Seasonal Produce (76-85)

Local, seasonal foods will be fresher and more nutrient-rich. Here are some around in the colder months, when we‟re in even more need of a healthy diet.

Artichoke Rich in fibre, vitamin c, potassium and magnesium, they‟re good for digestion.artichoke

Acorn squash Packed with nutrients that benefit your eyes, blood pressure and immunity.

Celeriac Contains potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C and fibre.

Beetroot High in vitamin C, betacarotene, magnesium, iron and folic acid. 

Red onion Rich in cancer-fighting quercetin. 

Brussels sprouts Loaded with folic acid and suphotaphane, thought to be a potent anti-carcinogen.

Passion fruit A good source of vitamins A and C, passion fruit is thought to aid sleep.

Satsumas Excellent source of vitamin C and folate.

Kale Full of iron and folic acid, and easy to use in stir-fries.

Chicory detoxifying, anticatarralic and alkalizing effects that help in treating digestive problems, gastritis, hepatitis, gall bladder problems, intestinal worms, and hemorrhoids.

Fat and Oils (86-92)

Healthy Fats are important for your metabolism and absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, for brain development and feelings of satiety. Aim for no more than 70g a day. 

olive oilFlaxseed oil Rich in fatty acids thought to prevent heart disease.

Rapeseed oil A healthy cooking oil and a source of omega-3‟s.

Avocado Contains vitamin E, so it‟s great for your skin.

Olive oil Rich in oleic acid, which helps you absorb omega-3‟s.

Hazelnut oil High in omega-9‟s and contains vitamin E.

Black Cumin Seed Oil has been used to treat skin conditions ranging from eczema to boils and appears to relieve symptoms of the common cold.

Pomegranate Seed oil is mainly known for its moisturizing, nourishing as well as protective properties and is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, due to which it can be used in treating minor and major skin irritants, like dry, scaly skin, eczema, psoriasis and other skin disorders. The anti-inflammatory property of this oil, which can be attributed to its high content of conjugated fatty acid, mainly punicic acid, is also thought to be capable of reducing swelling and relieving muscle pain.

Herbs and Spices (93-108)

These provide trace elements, have medicinal properties and help create different flavours and textures, enabling you to experiment with a wider variety of foods.

Ginger Good for digestion and is also anti-inflammatory.ginger

Garlic This has antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic qualities.

Mint Contains vitamin C, calcium and iron.

Turmeric Containing curcumin, it has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting effects.

Cinnamon A warming spice useful for treating colds, stomach pains and poor circulation.

Bay leaves They provide traces of iron and phosphorus, and are good for digestion.

Rosemary A good stimulant for your immune system and a powerful antioxidant.

Chives They contain compounds that may help to lower blood cholesterol levels.   

Coriander Good tonic for your stomach, heart and urinary tract.                

Dill Antibacterial herb that‟s a good source of calcium.                              

Fennel Known for its diuretic effects, traditionally used to relieve intestinal cramps.

Parsley Contains vitamin C, folic acid and betacarotene.

Sage is an anti-inflammatory and is good for digestion.

Thyme Known best for its antioxidant properties. 

Cardamom is stimulant, carminative, digestive and is used mainly to treat, bronchitis and fevers.

Oregano is a very good source of fibre so include it in Italian dishes.

Saffron is the dried "stigma" or threads of the flower of the crocus plant and have wonderful anti-oxidant compounds.

Tarragon Whilst fresh herbs are usually only used in small quantities, particularly when they are strong in flavour and only a little is needed to flavour certain dishes, tarragon is still an excellent source of iron, calcium and manganese.

Plus- Anti-agers, Brain-feeders, Sleep boosters (109-150)

PMS Beaters

pumpkin seedsSunflower and pumpkin seeds These help beat inflammation.

Porridge its slow-release energy may help control sugar cravings.

Bananas Contain serotonin, which boosts mood and their potassium, may help beat fluid retention, too.

Lentils Loaded with magnesium – low levels may cause cramps.

Wholegrains Rich in vitamin B6 and B1, which help beat cramps.

Celery Contains phytochecmicals that may help calm nerves.

Spinach Rich in folate – low levels have been linked to depression.

Millet is a gluten free grain with traces of calcium and iron.

Anti - Agers

Green tea Rich in catechin polyphenols, which slow the signs of aging.

pink grapefruitPink grapefruit Contains lycopene, which mops up free radicals.

Salmon Contains dimethylaminoe-thanol, a powerful antioxidant.

Manuka Honey has an antimicrobial property not shared by other honeys. This property is called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF®) antibacterial property.

Kombucha is a fermented Japanese tea that contains the range of B vitamins, particularly B1, B2, B6 and B12.

Matcha unlike other green teas, you consume the leaves in the ground powder. For this reason matcha contains, by volume, higher concentrations of catechins and vitamins.

Brain Feeders

basilBasil Used by herbalists for its antidepressant properties.

Strawberries Rich in antioxidants that are said to aid concentration.

Yeast extract Filled with brain-boosting B vitamins.

Sardines Bursting with omega-3 fatty acids.

Krill is a rich source of high-quality protein, with the advantage over other animal proteins of being low in fat and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Sleep Boosters

Fig This fibrous fruit contains sleep-inducing tryptophan.

Wild lettuce Leafy greens that contain the sedative lactucarium.

Sesame seeds Their omega-6s support healthy sleep patterns.

Get Adventurous

Nettles are used in herbal teas and have purifying properties.

physalisPhysalis is high in vitamin C.

Daikon radishes are rich in iron and high in antioxidants.

Acai berries are antibacterial.

Papaya aids digestion.

Okra is a good veg source of calcium.

Miso paste is rich in phyto-oestrogens.

Guavas are high in vitamin C.

Yams have high levels of vitamins, dietary fibers, and minerals, while being low in saturated fats and sodium.

Persimmon contain anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta carotene, lycopene

Dragon Fruit is rich in anti-oxidants, packed with vitamin C and B vitamins.

Star Fruit is mostly consumed fresh or as juice, is rich in vitamins A and C and it also has iron, and has high fiber content.

Umeboshi This Japanese style traditional pickle is considered good for digestion, prevention of nausea. The citric acid is claimed to act as an antibacterial, help to increase saliva production and assist in the digestion of rice.

Alfalfa sprouted alfalfa seeds are low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.

Dandelion Greens support the liver and kidneys, which are burdened by the breakdown of cells as the warmer weather thins our blood and mucus. Dandelion tastes mildest before it flowers, but the greens may be eaten throughout the growing season, for the high concentration of calcium, potassium, iron, Vitamin A, and other nutrients, the vitality inherent in uncultivated plants, and the joy of being able to eat one‟s lawn.

Lotus Root is low in Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol and is high Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese.

Endives Among all the green vegetables, endive is one of the richest source of vitamin A.  It is also a good source of vitamin C, calcium, chlorine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur; and excellent provider of fiber and carotene.

Edible Flowers Chamomile (for tea), Chives (flowers or buds), Clover, Elderflower (blossoms for drink), Jasmine (for tea),  Violet (leaf and flowers in salads, candied flowers for pastry decoration). Home grown flowers are best picked in the morning or late afternoon when their water content is high. Rinsing gently will clean them.