If You Had to Survive on One Food, What's the Best Option?
If someone told me I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life… well, I'd be frightened and confused.
But the hypothetical question (it's important that it's a hypothetical, and not a threat, by the way) has fascinated stony bologna dorm room philosophers since food was invented (approximately in the year 1545, when Samuel Food discovered bacon, the first food).
Jerry O'Connell famously proclaimed cherry-flavored Pez as his "desert island" food in 1986's Stand by Me. Personally, I would opt for chicken and waffles, based on general enjoyment alone. But what if you actually had to choose one, single food to live on for the rest of your life? Is there any lone superfood that could bear the load of your entire diet.
I asked a slew of nutritionists and dietitians this very question.
"If I had to live on only one food for survival, it would be almonds. Almonds provide all the macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.... which are all needed for our bodies to run properly. A single serving provides around 160 calories, 14 grams of heart-healthy fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, of which 4 grams are from fiber, and 6 grams of protein. They are also rich in micronutrients such as the antioxidant vitamin E, magnesium, and riboflavin. And besides, they taste great." -- Keri Gans, RDN, Nutritionist, Certified Yoga Teacher, Author of The Small Change Diet
Or, almond butter...
"I'd say almond butter. It will be a source or protein, healthy fat, antioxidants, and a little carbs. Of course no food is perfect enough to meet all of your nutrient needs, so if I had to choose the most perfect imperfect it would probably be that. Also, I'd go with almond butter versus almonds because it would be a little easier to eat assuming I'd also have water." -- Keri Glassman, partner of Fairway Market and founder of Nutritious Life
Salmon = sensible
"Salmon. It provides B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, calcium (especially if you eat the bones as well), essential fatty acids including omega 3, essential protein, and some iron." -- Colette Heimowitz, Atkins Nutritionist, RD
Coconuts: the tree of life... I guess
"I would have to say the best singular food to sustain myself would be coconuts. Every single bit of a coconut has some sort of health benefit. That’s why they are called the 'tree of life.' They can produce fiber, fuel, food, and drink. Coconuts are very rich in vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B-6. The oil in the coconut is a source of energy and has an accelerating effect on the metabolism. The 'meat' of the coconut is high in protein; and the milk is refreshing and light. Not bad for a food that tastes great too!" -- Natalie Sexton, Holistic Health Coach, Juice Producer
The incredible, edible egg
"Eating a variety of food allows you to take in all the nutrients you need for a healthy, balanced diet. But if I could only eat one food, I would choose eggs. As a vegetarian, they offer me a form of protein that’s not only complete but is extremely well utilized by the body. Additionally, they’re a filling food because they offer fat in addition to protein. And they supply many important nutrients, including eye-helping lutein and zeaxanthin!" -- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, Owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition
"An apple a day..." well, yea, you know
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away. At about 86% water and 4 grams of fiber, apples help keep you hydrated as well as full. They also help keep your immune system strong with a fair amount of vitamin C and antioxidants. Plus, with so many varieties, you could never get bored." -- Taylor D'Anna, RDN, CDN
Or, actually, maybe "an avocado a day..."
"Who doesn’t want to eat avocados every day? Rich is monounsaturated fatty acids and fiber, these smooth operators fill you up and keep things moving along. They also contain a fair amount of vitamin C, folate, potassium, and vitamin E. Let’s not forget that they also taste good on practically anything." -- D'Anna
Trust the Greeks! Or... at least their yogurt
"If I had to live on one food for survival I would choose a low-fat, fruit-flavored Greek yogurt because of its many beneficial components. One serving of low-fat, fruit-flavored Greek yogurt provides the essential fat, protein, and carbohydrate macronutrients needed for normal body function. It is also high in calcium, potassium, and iodine, and contains probiotics that promotes good digestive health." -- Erika Goldstein, RDN, DTR, Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist
"If I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, I would eat Fage 5% full fat Greek yogurt -- it contains all three macronutrients, 18 grams of protein per serving, carbohydrates for quick energy, and high fat content to keep me full and satiated. Plus the probiotics in it are an added bonus for good gut health!" -- Hyemyung Kim, RD, CNSC, CLC
At the end of the day...
You don't want to eat only one thing for the rest of your life.
Even Greek yogurt. Especially not cherry-flavored Pez.