Nutrient Density is like anything involving density meaning how much you get of one thing. With nutrient density, what you receive, the nutrients, are analyzed in relationship to how much they “cost” you, as in how many calories are there in the foods you are eating. Quite simply, nutrient density means how many nutrients you get from a food, given the number of calories it contains. Nutrient density is a way to connect nutrients with calories.
More nutrients for less calories
Nutrient dense foods give you the most nutrients for the fewest amount of calories. In other words, nutrient dense foods give you the “you get more for your money.” It doesn’t cost you much in terms of calories and you get lots of nutrients.
One of the healthiest ways to eat is to eat nutrient dense foods
No principle is more likely to support healthy eating than the principle of nutrient density. Why is nutrient density so helpful? Because it gives you concentrated amount of valuable nutrients such as fiber, minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, to name just a few.
An Example Of Nutrient Dense Eating
Here is an example. Let us say you’re low on vitamin E, and decide to eat a food that is not nutrient dense. A slice of regular white bread will give you about 1/10th of a milligram of vitamin E. For this 1/10th of a milligram you will collect about 80 calories ( which is the number of calories in a slice of many white breads). Now we will compare this number and amount to a slice of 100% whole wheat bread.
Whole grain products, are nutrient dense, like most whole foods. A slice of 100% whole wheat bread is approximately the same number of calories (about 70-75 calories) but the amount of vitamin E will be substantially different. You will get between 250 and 500 micrograms of vitamin E and 70-80 in the 100% whole grain bread,instead of only 100 micrograms found in the regular white bread. Or, to put it somewhat differently, you would have to eat 5 slices of the regular white bread to get the same amount of vitamin E that you would find in 2-1/2 slices of regular white bread. And those extra 1-1/2 to 2 slices would cost you as much as 320 additional calories.
Getting your nutrients from nutrient dense foods is clearly the answer! Simply because in the example shown, you can see that you save approximately 320 calories by eating nutrient dense food. While that amount might not sound like a lot, in terms of average walking, it would mean you would have to walk an additional 45 minutes just to break even. It can also mean the equivalent of a 33-pound weight gain every year if you happened to eat regular white bread vs 100% whole grain bread on a daily basis.
Some Practical tips
There are no foods that are more nutrient dense than whole, organically grown foods. The reason is simple: there is nothing contained in a fresh, whole organic food that doesn’t need to be there. Everything you need to stay optimally nourished is right there, packaged in its lowest calorie form. These foods are your best connection to nutrient density, and nutrient density is your best bet for a healthy way of life.