Nutrient Dense Foods

Sep 14, 2018

nutrient dense (2)
Maybe you have heard your dietitian or nutritionist recommend you increase your consumption of “nutrient-dense” foods. Have you wondered what that means?

According to the National Institutes of Health, a nutrient dense food is “Food that is high in nutrients but relatively low in calories. Nutrient-dense foods contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. Examples of nutrient-dense foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk products, seafood, lean meats, eggs, peas, beans, and nuts.”

This is the opposite of processed, energy dense foods which provide more calories or energy, but do not provide as many nutrients that your body needs. You may have also heard these called foods with lots of “empty calories.” These energy dense foods will digest more quickly and be more easily stored as fat in the body. Some common energy dense foods are cakes, cookies, chips, candies, as well as fast food items such as cheeseburgers and fries.

Nutrient density explains why an apple is a better choice than a 100-calorie snack pack of chips. Even though they have about the same number of calories, the apple contains more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the apple has a higher nutrient density.

Focusing your food choices on nutrient-dense foods will help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs, help you feel full longer, help you lose more weight, and ultimately keep you healthier.

Questions or concerns? Emily Kohls

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