Nutrient dense foods pack a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that are essential for optimal health, at a relatively low calorie cost. If you’re eating a healthy diet that includes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you’re probably already eating a diet that’s nutrient dense. Those foods give you a lot of nutrition at a relatively low calorie cost.
For example, carrots are a nutrient dense food. By eating a whole carrot, you could get all of your vitamin A for the day at a cost of 25 calories. Dairy products also contain vitamin A, so you could get your daily vitamin A by eating ice cream. However, you would have to eat 1,500 calories worth of ice cream to get the same amount of vitamin A as you would from eating a whole carrot.
Oranges are also a nutrient dense food. If you ate an entire orange, you would get your needed vitamin C for the day, at a cost of 70 calories. Potatoes also contain vitamin C. However, if you ate french fries for vitamin C, you’d have to eat two large orders of fries at about 800 calories!
Some proteins are more nutrient dense than others. 3oz. of grilled fish is about 120 calories and 25g of protein. You could get the same amount of protein if you ate ground beef. However, eating ground beef would cost you an additional 400 calories to get the same amount of protein. So fish is more nutrient dense than ground beef.
What affects nutrient density? Fat and sugar. The more fat the food has, the more calories it is, and doesn’t offer any other nutrients. Sugar also adds more calories to food but doesn’t have any vitamins or minerals in it. Fruits and vegetables have less calories, contain water and fiber, and offer a lot of nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Learn more about healthy nutrition by checking out Susan Bowerman’s playlist at http://hrbl.me/HealthyLivingVIDEOS