If you’ve seen the new show The Wilds, you may have wondered what are the best foods for surviving on an island. After the film Cast Away aired the question would occasionally pop up among friends: If you were stranded on a deserted island what food would you need to survive? I’ve always answered with beans, rice and bananas, but I never knew what the best foods for survival were until now!
As it turns out, the best foods depend on how long you’re stranded in that situation. For the purpose of my research, I chose one year. My challenge was to find three foods that contain enough macro and micro nutrients to keep you healthy for 365 days. The chosen foods should contain a balanced serving of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. In theory, a minimalist survival diet of just potatoes, milk, and kale would sustain you for quite a long time.
Best Foods for Surviving on an Island
Potatoes are packed with nutrients. They contain adequate amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for long-term survival. Potatoes also contain nearly every micronutrient that your body needs to live. They are especially high in potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and folate. Mix sweet potatoes with white potatoes for additional vitamin A and C.
While potatoes are a great source of calories and many nutrients, they lack several essential vitamins. This is where kale comes in. Considered by many to be a true superfood, a single cup of kale contains a full daily requirement of Vitamins A, C, and K. Kale also contains a broad range of antioxidants and plenty of fiber. Other vitamins found in kale include B1, B2, B6, B9, and folate. Furthermore, kale is an excellent source of many minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. Once you’ve been rescued, check out this delicious kale recipe.
Kale and potatoes contain nearly every nutrient that you need to live. However, there are just a few more vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Adding cow’s milk to this survival diet will make up for the lack of fats, proteins, B12, calcium, and riboflavin. Vitamin B12 in particular is rarely found in plants. Plant milks can be fortified to carry these nutrients and would be a viable substitute. Hopefully, on your island you will have electricity or perhaps cows because you’re going to need at least one to have fresh milk.
After recently publishing a post on the keto diet, it’s funny to me to focus so much on potatoes. However, the potato skin contains at least 30% of all nutrients; the exact amount varies by vitamin. For example, 70% of vitamin C, vitamin B3, and thiamine are found in the skin. The skin also contains most of a potato’s supply of iron, magnesium, and potassium. These vitamins are important for transporting oxygen and supporting your immune system.
Eating a Minimalist Diet
If you’re not stranded, but wanting to eat a minimalist diet of just the basics, you could survive and thrive on foods such as these: apples, blueberries, almonds, leafy greens, such as seaweed, avocados, broccoli, sweet potatoes, lentils, oatmeal, wheat germ, chicken, egg yolks, salmon, sardines, shellfish, liver, dark chocolate and, for flavor plus important nutrients, garlic.
In general, if you’re looking for a balanced diet that will improve your health and skin check out a post I previously wrote called Better Skin Starts with Better Food.