Nutrient-Dense Foods

According to the American Heart Association research shows that the typical American diet lacks nutrients but is high in calories. We eat lots of empty calories with seemingly no nutritional value. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other things that are important for maintaining your health without including sugars, saturated fat, and other unhealthy add-ons. Looking at the number of calories that are consumed in a food versus the amount of nutrients contained in a food is the nutrient density of the food. This message is filled with several recipe links!  Try one or two this week.

Here are some tips to add more nutrient dense foods for a healthier diet:

  1. Make it about the fiber!  Complex Carbohydrates
    • Quinoa, Brown Rice, Wheat Barley, Oatmeal, etc.
    • Increase vegetables including starch vegetables such as potatoes.
  1. Eat whole food.
    • Switch from processed deli meat to sliced roasted chicken.
    • Better yet, focus on beans and legumes.
    • Replace sugary drinks with water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. Eliminate or greatly reduce your juice consumption, eat the fruit…or infuse water.
  1. Enjoy your favorite foods with healthier options.

The picture depicts calorie density in several foods.  The foods on the left are more nutrient-dense foods and have less calories. Choosing more nutrient dense foods for your diet will help you eat less calories and obtain beneficial nutrients at the same time. Switching some of your daily habits to include more nutrient dense foods can make a big impact. You can make these substitutions in both snacks and meals for an all-around healthier diet.

Power Plate

The Physicians Committee’s Power Plate focuses on a plant-based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. This type of diet lowers the risk for several diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and stroke. The foods included in this diet contain many nutrients.  Leafy greens and legumes are high in calcium, grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits contain protein, dried fruits, vegetables, and other foods contain iron. This type of diet is also rich in Vitamin D, B12, fiber, and more nutrients. The Power Plate is similar to the Eat Right MyPlate (below), which proposes making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, and the other half a split between grains and protein. The two plates are shown below. The basis of these plates is nutrient density in the foods that you are actively choosing to put on your plate. The foods that will meet the recommendations of these plates are all nutrient-dense, providing more nutrients and less calories.  CLICK the picture to download the brochure!

Being mindful of what you are putting on your plate will help in many ways.  Picking one of these plates and consciously building your plate to look like it will lead you to a healthier lifestyle. By choosing one of these plates, you will also be actively choosing more nutrient-dense foods. The good part is you still get to choose.  You are in control and get to pick from a variety of foods to eat! Start making those healthier choices today. For other tips and resources, watch the video at this link: Jeff Novak Caloric Density.

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