Nutrient-Dense Foods

Everyone loves a good bargain, something that gives more product for the same price.  But how about finding a bargain nutrient-wise?  According to a United States Department of Agriculture survey, 74% of Americans need to improve their diets and don’t do very well in eating foods that provide the most healthy nutrients per bite (nutrient-dense foods) (1).  Focusing on foods that are nutrient-rich can help people of all ages meet their nutrient needs without eating excess fat and calories.  Choosing foods based on nutrient density can also help identify and avoid overlooking healthy foods by evaluating them based on their complete nutrient content and not only on nutrients to be limited, like sugar, saturated fat or cholesterol.  For example, low-fat chocolate milk would be a healthy option because it provides high amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and D, protein and carbohydrates per calorie of energy.

It’s easy to shop for and eat more nutrient-dense foods by comparing food labels and planning snacks and meals that incorporate foods from multiple food groups.  Visit the Food and Drug Administration’s website to learn more about reading food labels, and to get started adding more nutrient-rich foods to your diet, check out the Chocolate Lover’s Strawberry-Banana Smoothie recipe.  It makes a great post-workout snack or quick breakfast to go!

(1) Bastiotis, P et al. (2002). The Healthy Eating Index 1999-2000.  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture;CNPP-12.

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