If I had all the money in the world, I would absolutely hire a live-in nutritionist. Whenever I meet someone with a degree in nutrition, all I want to do is pick their brain. I suppose it's because I find it completely fascinating that a nutritionist's field of study directly applies to their everyday life, at least three times a day. When you know exactly which foods are bad for you and which foods are good, what do your meals looks like?
Curious to learn about the foods nutritionists eat that the rest of us never learned about in school, I got in touch with a panel of trusted experts. I asked them to name the quirkiest food items they've introduced to their diet since studying nutrition, and their answers did not disappoint. (Have you ever heard of Sorghum? Nope—neither had I.)
Keep scrolling to learn about 10 healthy but strange foods nutritionists swear by! Of course, never hesitate to reach out to your doctor when considering any long-term dietary changes.
Nutritionists are known to incorporate these heart-healthy ingredients into many of their meals. "They provide omega-3s and dietary fiber," says registered dietitian Lauren O'Connor. "Benefits include brain health and the absorption of vitamins and nutrients."
O'Connor recommends adding flax to your smoothies or grinding it into your seasoning or breading when you cook. For breakfast, she suggests making chia pudding by soaking chia seeds overnight with almond milk and spices. "Flax and chia, when soaked, are also great egg replacers in baked goods," O'Connor adds. (Flax meal is also one of the key ingredients in her cranberry crumble recipe.)
We're talking sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and tempeh. "Nutritionists know how important gut health is to your overall well-being, and eating fermented foods is a great way to address this," says certified nutrition coach Candice Seti of the Weight Loss Therapist. "Fermented foods also introduce a wide variety of micronutrients into your system that are hard to get elsewhere."
Seti recommends incorporating fermented foods into your diet two to three times a week. Treat yourself to a kombucha with lunch a few times a week.
According to celebrity nutritionist Elissa Goodman, this little-known superfood deserves a place in your diet. "Barley is rich in antioxidants, essential amino acids, and beneficial enzymes," she says. That means it can help strengthen your immune system, detoxify the body, maintain healthy skin, and more.
So how can you incorporate barley into your daily meals? "Start by adding two teaspoons of barley extract to your morning smoothie or green juice," Goodman suggests.
This often overlooked supplement is especially important for bones and heart health, says O'Connor. We can obtain vitamin D from sun exposure and certain foods like mushrooms and egg yolks, but O'Connor says that as we age, our bodies lose their ability to absorb and create a usable form of vitamin D. "A growing number of studies suggest vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," she says.
O'Connor takes a 2000 IU capsule every morning with a glass of water to keep her levels up. "A blood test can determine if you have adequate vitamin D levels," she says.
No, sriracha doesn't count. Nutritionists agree that spices like turmeric and rosemary have loads of secret health benefits. "Garlic is great for boosting your immune system, cinnamon is great for your heart, turmeric is loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and rosemary is wonderful for memory," says Seti.
Seti recommends keeping a collection of spices right next to your stove, instead of tucked away in a cabinet, so you're more likely to reach for them when you cook.
"Most folks would assume all nutritionist reach for skim milk, but that's not the case," says registered dietitian Dana White. "Higher-fat milks including rich and creamy whole milk can fit into a healthy diet and may also help curb appetite and prevent overeating."
White recommends fairlife's ultra-filtered whole milk, which has "50% more protein and 30% more calcium than regular milk."
Nutritionists agree: You can take potatoes off your "do not eat" list. "Spuds get a bad reputation for being too high in carbs, but this fiber-rich tuber is filled with potassium, vitamin B6, and even some protein," says White. "Make a baked potato bar for an easy weeknight dinner or serve oven-roasted fries as a healthy side dish."
A bottle of fish oil supplements has been sitting in your Amazon cart for six months (come on, we know it has), but according to nutritionists, it's finally time to pull the trigger. "Fish oil is anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy," says O'Connor. "Fish oil capsules are a great way to get the benefit of fish in your diet, without worrying about the cost or availability of quality seafood."
We know, the name sounds a little suspect. But I personally swear by nut-derived cheese, and so do nutritionists. "These dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan 'cheese spreads' are delicious on everything and provide much more benefit that processed dairy crap!" says Goodman. "The Leaf Cuisine brand is loaded with probiotic benefit and made from cashews while the Kite Hill brands are made primarily with almonds."
We also recommend Treeline's nut cheeses, which are made from cashews and available at Whole Foods.
This nutritionist-approved gluten alternative provides "a significant amount of dietary fiber and plant-based protein," says Goodman. "It also contains high levels of iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium."
The product comes in grain form and can be added to salads, soups, or serve as a couscous replacement. "It also makes a great gluten-free flour when ground, ideal for baking," says Goodman.
Next, discover seven amazing things that happen to your body when you stop drinking alcohol.