By Erin Caraher RDN, CDN
Nutrient dense foods are those that are rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are good for your health. Think of it this way – you’re deciding what snack to eat and you see a 100-calorie pack of cookies, chips, or an apple with peanut butter. The apple with peanut butter has more calories compared to the 100-calorie pack, however it contains many beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and protein. This snack will keep you feeling full and satisfied until your next meal, while the 100-calorie pack of cookies or chips just contains processed carbohydrates and will leave you feeling hungry again in 15 minutes.
Whenever you eat, you want to think about what this food is doing for your body and how is it supporting your health. Each nutrient, vitamin, and mineral play an important role in our bodies that help our body thrive. Foods like meat, fish, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, dairy all contain beneficial nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium and fiber which are beneficial for our health and help fight back against disease.
So how can we increase nutrients in our diet? Here are some tips:
- Make a nutrient rich smoothie using yogurt (calcium, vitamin D, protein), fruit and vegetables (vitamins/minerals and fiber), peanut butter (healthy fats and protein), and water (hydration)
- When making a meatloaf or meatballs chop up vegetables such as carrots (vitamin A) or spinach (iron) and mix them in!
- Try chickpea/black bean pasta rather than white pasta. It contains more protein and fiber
- When given the option, choose whole grains. Whole grain bread contains more protein, magnesium, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and zinc compared to white bread.
- Try to make sure there is always protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc.) and produce (fruits and vegetables) present at all your meals to ensure you are getting good nutrients throughout the day.
Erin Caraher RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist who works with bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.