Most basic of foods for my lifetime
June 30, 2010 7:43 PM   Subscribe

If had a limited choice of foods to eat daily from age thirty to ninety what would pack the most nutrition? Processed and packaged items are allowed in suggestions.

Let's say I can only buy a limited variety of food which I must consume day in and day out; that means I cannot have fruit A on Tuesday and fruit B on Friday. I will have fruit A every day as a part of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking. I will eat enough to be full with the same ingredients daily for the rest of my life.

I know consumption of leafy greens, fruit, and whole grains are what nutritionists advise. I want a listing of more specific foods, i.e. cabbage, avocado, quinoa.

Packaged and processed food such as tofu or brands of energy bars may be suggested.

I am female and an omnivore.
posted by ayc200 to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Are there any other restrictions on what these foods might be? For example, do they have to keep for 60 years, or be capable of being grown / raised in an underground shelter?
posted by grobstein at 7:47 PM on June 30, 2010

this has been approached n the past. i myself have posted a similar question.

the long and the short of it is : no food will meet this requirement in a healthful way.
posted by radiosilents at 7:50 PM on June 30, 2010

5 Greatest Foods for Your Health
List of the Most Nutritious Foods
The World's Healthiest Foods

It sounds like you want the maximum nutrition for the minimum single menu selections. Googling topics like "most nutritious foods" should enable you to plan such a menu from lists like these. You are probably looking to cover your nutrient bases, so making sure you have protein, fats, and carbs as macronutrients, and then the vitamins and minerals as micronutrients, would be part of such a plan. YOu can generally accomplish good coverage on the latter by eating a variety of colors in your vegetable diet: for instance, carrots, beets, and spinach.
posted by Miko at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2010

Sweet Potato (Filling! Delicious! Carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, fiber...)
Wild Salmon (Omega's!)
Spinach (Raw greens! vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron...)

You could live off this yummy goodness
posted by gillianr at 7:54 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would say that it depends on the time of year. It's summer, so eat tomatoes, cucumbers, or summer squash. Melons are abundant right now, too. Come winter, switch to greens or beets and winter squash. This also has the advantage of being the cheaper way to do things.
posted by Gilbert at 8:13 PM on June 30, 2010

hog livers and cabbage, possibly.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:13 PM on June 30, 2010

posted by Wordwoman at 8:14 PM on June 30, 2010

This sounds temptingly efficient, and I for one would be thrilled if it were possible, but the problem is that nature just isn't built for the minimal and streamlined. Look at genetic code as an example: Something like 90+% of our DNA is duplicate, nonsensical, or useless, but it's that level of redundancy that makes species so adaptable to change. If we were operating with the bare minimum, any change in climate, food supply, sudden illness, etc. would be catastrophic because we would have nothing to fall back on. We'd also miss out on the all the serendipitous adaptations that occur in the background and turn out to be advantageous.

Nutrition kind of works the same way - you could get by, sure, but you'd be shorting yourself unnecessarily in the long run ("Don't put all your eggs in one basket"). It would be far, far healthier to come up with a diet where you must eat different foods every day - food A only on Monday, food B only on Tuesday, etc. - and most diets are built more along these lines for that reason.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 8:43 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by Forktine at 9:03 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second Monkeychow. I have pretty much been living on Gouda cheese, boiled shrimp, pretzels, and dried figs for the past year. Yeah, I know it is weird. This month, I have added flax cereal with milk or variety. So I am thinking since I am still alive, you could live on cheese, shrimp, pretzels, and figs.
posted by fifilaru at 10:33 PM on June 30, 2010

posted by low affect at 5:45 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by kiwi-epitome at 5:58 AM on July 1, 2010

I'm not a nutritionist, but I'd imagine if you ate berries, eggs, cooked spinach or cooked broccoli, oatmeal, greek yogurt, and skim milk on a daily basis you'd have most of your vitamin needs covered.
posted by mintchip at 9:33 AM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

If I wanted to figure this out, I would get a nutrition tracking program to help me (e.g. cron-o-meter).

Normally you would use something like this to track your nutrition day-by-day. You only need to do a single day, constructed very carefully. Just try adding and removing various foods to find a minimal set that meets daily requirements of calories, macronutrients (e.g. fat/carbs/protein), and micronutrients (e.g. vitamins/minerals). The program makes this easier by including a huge database of the nutritional breakdowns of foods (both natural and processed/packaged) that you can add to your daily menu with a mouse click.

This is similar to what the "CRON" folks do with the program every day -- they try to get all of their nutrition within a limited number of calories. You're trying to get all of your nutrition and calories within a limited variety of foods.

(CRON stands for calorie restriction with optimal nutrition)
posted by madmethods at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I came in here to suggest looking at what the CRON folks are doing, but I see madmethods beat me to it. Cron-o-meter is very useful for this sort of thing. Also check out Roy Walford's books for sample meal plans that cram optimum nutrition into few calories. Spoiler: salad.
posted by blue grama at 9:24 AM on July 6, 2010

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