Nutrients are those substances the body uses to acquire energy, regulate various functions and enhance the physical structure. The six kinds of nutrients are proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. The human body needs the former half in large amounts hence their name macronutrients. However, minerals and vitamins are microelements, as the body needs them in small amounts. Nutrient density is an essential concept in designing and recommending nutritional and dietary advice to the public and patients. Beyond mineral and vitamins, sufficient consumption of the phytochemicals is important for the immune system’s operation. It also enhances the cellular repair and detoxification for the body.
What is nutrient density?
Nutrient density refers to the quantity of essential nutrients in a given volume of food. Nutrient foods contain large amounts of nutrients. Generally, nutrient foods have fewer calories. All the superfoods such as beans, salmon, sweet potatoes, and eggs are nutrient-dense foods. On the contrary, energy-dense foods contain more calories in a given volume of food but have fewer nutrients.
How does nutrient density work?
Consider a situation in which you are so hungry, yet it is only a few hours towards dinner and as a result, you opt for a snack. You may choose between a donut and an apple. Their size is almost similar and each of them functions as your quick snack before the main meal. As a health-sensitive person, you will choose the apple because it contains about 80 calories, numerous vitamins, phytochemicals, and fiber. Conversely, a donut has numerous calories-more than 200. However, it lacks diverse nutrients. It has low fiber content of around one gram and after eating it, you may easily take a second, and probably a third one.
How do you identify nutrient dense foods?
If you have several foods, you can compare their nutrient density through the quantity of calories in a certain food. To achieve this, you may use volume, weight or the portion size. For instance, you may compare the saltine crackers to a plate full of carrot slices. Both the snacks contain around 50 calories, though the carrots contain more nutrients for the similar number of calories. While the crackers are energy dense, carrots are nutrient-dense.
How do nutrient-dense super foods differ from nutrient-poor foods?
From the above-mentioned examples, you may have already observed that brightly colored vegetables and fruits are the best winners in terms of nutrient density. That explains why many vegetables and fruits are the best super foods that contain nutrients and other beneficial compounds like phytochemicals, fiber and essential fatty acids. Such superfoods include kale, carrots, apples, tomatoes, cherries, oranges and spinach. Conversely, nutrient-poor or energy-dense foods are those containing a large amount of fat and sugar like refined white breads, pastries, cheeses, candy, ice cream, corn chips and potato chips. You should go for nutrient-dense foods because of their great nutrition.
How do you choose nutrient-dense meals?
The nutrient-dense meal requires one serving of the healthy protein source like legumes, poultry, fish or lean meat. The remaining part of the meal should consist of nutritious side dishes. Often, vegetables always play a vital role even with some sauce of cheese. Go for the whole grain pasta rather than the regular one. Also, select brown rice instead of the white one. You may serve the big salad as the meal or use a healthy, green salad as the side dish.
Nutrient-dense foods are those that contain a large amount of nutrients in a certain volume than caloric content. Most super foods are highly nutritious and healthier than energy foods. Selecting nutrient foods is good for your health, as nutrients play useful roles within the body. Nutrient poor foods may be rich in sugar and fats but devoid of important nutrients.