Those nutrient dense foods give you the "biggest bang for the buck." You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn't cost you much in terms of calories1.
Let’s take for instance ice-cream and fat-free milk. Both supply calcium, but milk is much more calcium dense than ice-cream. The latter having over 300 calories per cup versus 80 calories for a cup of milk2.
Most of the us can’t eat food without regard to the energy content. At least if we care about being healthy and in good shape.
Those who don’t follow such rule, may easily exceed the recommended calorie intake, potentially leaving nutrients needs unmet.
That’s why the concept of nutrient density is such a useful tool to resort to in diet planning.
The rule of thumb is to lookout for food with higher nutrient density.
Consult the nutrition facts (you can either find online or on food labels) and pick the “best buys”, that is to say those who deliver more nutrients per calorie.
It should come as no news to you that the foods having the higher nutrient density are vegetables (duh!), especially the non-starchy ones such as greens, tomatoes, carrots and mushrooms.
These foods are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and other phytochemicals, which are thought to be beneficial to health as they protect against disease.
Dig foods with higher nutrients density and leave depleted high caloric ones on the shelves.
Do you remember when we discussed about crowding out? Which involves adding more healthy food to your diet rather than cutting back on foods you enjoy? Well, that is clearly the right path to follow.
2 Sizer F.S., Whitney E.N., Nutrition Concepts and Controversies. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print