23 foods of plant origin (and their properties) - medical - 2023



It is well known by all that eating a healthy diet is the cornerstone of a long and healthy life. Foods of plant origin must be present in our daily lives and, in fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) itself indicates that, each day, we should consume about 400 grams of vegetables and fruits.

Foods of plant origin are those that grow directly from the ground and that have many benefits in our body: they stimulate the cleaning of it, are low in calories, provide essential vitamins and minerals, promote digestion, strengthen the intestinal flora, improve blood circulation… And the list goes on.

Without entering into the debate of whether being vegetarian or vegan is healthier than following a diet that includes foods of animal origin, what is clear is that foods of plant origin are essential to keep the body healthy and have all the nutrients what do we need.

But, What are the healthiest plant-based foods? In today's article, from the hand of the most prestigious scientific publications and our team of nutritionists, we will answer this question. Let's see the main foods of plant origin and their beneficial properties.

  • To learn more: "The 13 essential vitamins (and their functions)"

What are the healthiest plant-based foods?

By food of plant origin we understand any product intended for human consumption based on morphological parts of organisms from the plant or fungal kingdom. In fact, all that plant or fungal product that grows directly from the ground is considered as such. The order of the list is totally random. All the foods that we will see are essential in a healthy diet.

1. Almonds

Almonds (and we could also include hazelnuts) are nature's best source of plant-based calcium, an essential mineral for the bone, nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, blood and endocrine systems. 100 grams of these two products provide 240 mg of calcium, an amount second only to cheese and sardines.

  • We recommend you read: "The 15 foods richest in calcium (and why they are good)"

2. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of the healthiest legumes. These essential foods in the Mediterranean diet provide many benefits, being also, like the previous ones, a fantastic source of calcium. To better absorb this calcium, we must immerse the chickpeas in water twelve hours before consuming them.

3. Pistachios

Pistachios are nuts that provide many health benefits, especially in terms of healthy fatty acids and calcium. In fact, surprisingly enough, pistachios contain more calcium than milk. For every 100 grams, 136 mg are calcium.

4. Black beans

Black beans are legumes that represent one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom. Being able to consume them in salads, soups, burritos, etc., they provide us with 25 grams of protein for every 100 grams of product. This is more than many meats, which are typically around 20 grams of protein per 100 grams.

  • We recommend you read: "The 6 best sources of protein (food)"

5. Figs

Figs are the richest fruit in calcium. In fact, it is the second best source of calcium in the plant kingdom, behind almonds and hazelnuts. They are especially healthy when taken dry, as the drying process causes their calcium content to increase considerably. In addition, they are rich in vitamin A, C and B6.

6. Cereals

Rice, quinoa, wheat, oats, rye ... All cereals in general are an excellent source of vitamins (B3, D, K, E, biotin and folic acid), which is why they provide many benefits to the body. And, in addition, they are a huge source of carbohydrates. In fact, cereals, in any of their forms, are the base of the food pyramid. The energy for our day to day should come from them.

7. Avocado

Avocado is one of the few products of plant origin in which fatty acids represent the majority of its composition. And, in fact, out of every 100 grams of avocado, 15 grams are fat. And, in addition, these fats are healthy, as they are unsaturated fatty acids that lower the levels of "bad" cholesterol, give energy, maintain the structure of our cells and regulate body temperature.

  • We recommend you read: "The 9 best sources of healthy fats"

8. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds (and we could include pumpkin, chia or sesame seeds) are one of the best sources of healthy fats within foods of plant origin. Perhaps their consumption is not very popular, but, of course, they would be a good addition to our diet.

9. Olive oil

The mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil (and we could include olives) is undoubtedly one of nature's healthiest products. It is a source of some of the healthiest fats of vegetable origin, it raises the levels of "good" cholesterol, lowers the levels of "bad" cholesterol, benefits the control of blood pressure, prevents the onset of diabetes and contains antioxidants. Obviously, you have to make good use of it, as it is very caloric. About 4 tablespoons a day is perfect.

10. Corn

Corn is a cereal that we name individually as it is especially rich in carbohydrates and B vitamins, being also a very interesting source of healthy fats. For these reasons and its high antioxidant content, it should undoubtedly be part of any healthy diet.

11. Saffron

Saffron is a highly valued (and expensive) species in gastronomy for its aroma, but it is also a magnificent source of healthy fats, enhances the absorption of other vitamins and reduces the sensation of appetite, and can therefore be positive to regulate body weight.

12. Algae

Algae are not foods of plant origin. And it is that algae do not belong to the kingdom of plants, but to the chromistic kingdom. They carry out photosynthesis but they are not plants. Even so, seaweed, as food, provides many minerals (phosphorus, calcium, potassium and iron), in addition to vitamins (A, B2, B1 and D) and anti-inflammatory properties. The wakame is, surely, the most popular and consumed.

  • We recommend reading: "The 10 differences between plants and algae"

13. Edible mushrooms

Mushrooms also do not belong to the vegetable kingdom, but to the fungal one. Even so, they are included, like algae, in the group of foods of plant origin. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognizes more than 1,000 edible mushrooms, among which are the champignon, boletus, black truffle, oronja, chanterelle, chanterelle, etc. All of them, in addition to being low in calories, are a magnificent source of vitamins, protein, fiber and minerals.

  • We recommend reading: "The 30 types of mushrooms (edible, toxic and psychoactive)"

14. Blueberries

Blueberries are fruits that, due to their high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids, stimulate the activity of the immune system, so they help strengthen our defenses. And, in addition to its vitamins, it contains tannins, molecules that give blueberries properties to fight diarrhea.

15. Broccoli

Broccoli is generally quite a hated vegetable. But it doesn't deserve it. It is a source of vitamin A, C and B9, it is satiating but not fattening (due to its fiber content), it has anti-inflammatory properties, it contains antioxidants ... To maximize its benefits, it is best to steam it or boil it for about 3-4 minutes.

16. Kiwi

Kiwi is one of the healthiest fruits thanks to its content of vitamins (especially C), minerals and antioxidants. In addition, its consumption is usually advised to alleviate the symptoms of respiratory problems, Helps control blood pressure and it stimulates the reduction of the levels of "bad" cholesterol.

17. Cherries

Cherries are very healthy fruits rich in vitamins A, B, C and K that stand out for, thanks to their anthocyanin content, their ability to contribute to the reduction of uric acid levels, thus preventing joint problems due to accumulation of urate crystals.

18. Peas

Peas, considered both a vegetable and legume, have a low caloric content but are rich in protein, fiber, potassium and vitamins (especially C) involved in maintaining blood health. Without a doubt, a food that should be part of our diet.

  • We recommend you read: "Is veganism good for your health?"

19. Strawberries

Strawberries are fruits that have a very high content of vitamin C, which is why it favors the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums, helps to absorb iron from food, stimulates wound healing, maintains healthy tissues and, thanks to its contribution to reducing blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

20. Carrot

Granted, it's a myth that carrots are good for your eyes, but they're still very healthy vegetables. Carrot is rich in vitamin A, which functions as a motor for the regeneration reactions of these tissues, and in beta-carotene, the antioxidant that gives it its characteristic color and that reduces oxidative stress in the body.

21. Lentils

Lentils are legumes rich in carbohydrates (especially fiber), vitamin A, E, B1, B2, B6 and B9, calcium, sodium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, in addition to having a low fat content. Thanks to its satiating properties and effects, it is a highly recommended food.

22. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is rich in fiber, protein, vitamins A, C and K, magnesium and manganese. Due to its properties, this vegetable has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels, so its consumption is especially indicated in people who suffer from diabetes, because due to its anti-inflammatory properties and effects, it protects the organs from the effects of this pathology.

23. Spinach

Spinach, another of the most hated vegetables, has many health benefits. It has good amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, C and K, minerals (iron, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, folic acid, and magnesium), healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and, in addition, it is low in calories. We like it more or less, it is almost mandatory to include spinach in our diet.