All NFL players eat salmon, sweet potatoes, and hummus, one player said. A nutritionist says they’re onto something.


  • Former tight end Reggie Kelly says all NFL players keep certain in their fridge as basic nutrition.

  • The foods are salmon, sweet potatoes, and hummus, which are all high in protein and vitamins.

  • A registered dietitian said these foods can be the basis of someone’s everyday diet.

Salmon, sweet potatoes, and hummus are constants in the fridges of every NFL player in the league, according to former Atlanta Falcons tight end Reggie Kelly.

Speaking to Eat This, Not That, Kelly said these foods are staples, especially during the season, in part because they are all dense in protein and essential nutrients to keep them in peak condition for games and practice.

Registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, creator of, said they’re onto something – if she were stuck on a desert island, she would be OK if those were the only foods she had.

Each of these dishes offers important nutritional benefits that are good for everyone, Taub-Dix said, and are good options for athletes to fuel up.

Salmon is good for maintaining muscle and preventing injury

One serving of salmon can account for 41% of a person’s recommended daily intake of protein. That serving is also rich in omega-3 fatty acid, and essential vitamins like B3, B5, B6, B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, and potassium.

These nutrients can help fight inflammation, Taub-Dix said, which is critical for NFL players in preventing injuries and maintaining physical endurance through an entire game.

Sweet potatoes provide fuel

One sweet potato contains 26 grams of carbohydrates, delivering a boost of energy, and 3.9 grams of fiber, which helps balance energy levels.

Regular potatoes can be a source of carbs and some vitamins as well, but sweets are much denser in vitamins and potassium for the amount of calories and carbs they offer.

For example, sweet potatoes are among the best sources of vitamin A – one sweet potato contains 400% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin A – which is vital for the immune system, and also eye health, according to WebMD.

While one sweet potato isn’t going to sharpen your eyes immediately, vision is important for NFL players, who need to quickly react on the field, and Taub-Dix believes incorporating them into your diet will help your eyes in the long-run.

“Both types of potatoes are very nutritious, but sweets are much higher in vitamin A – important for sharp vision,” Taub-Dix said. “If you’re an athlete and you’re not a sweet lover, then fuel up on any potatoes for an excellent source of energy from carbs, fiber, and a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.”

Hummus is a good source of protein, and can help regulate blood sugar

The main ingredient in hummus is garbanzo beans – also known as chickpeas – which are part of the legume family alongside kidney beans and peanuts. The beans are blended with tahini (a sesame paste), lemon, garlic, salt, and oil or water to make a puree consistency.

Chickpeas are a good source of protein, carbs, fiber, and healthy fats. They are also high in calcium, which is key for bone health – a help to NFL players who are prone to injuries.

Chickpeas can also help regulate blood sugar due to their low glycemic index, meaning the body digests them slowly and maintains the energy boost for longer, according to WebMD.

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