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What does “nutrient-dense” really mean?

Posted by CarePoint Health on Dec 28, 2015 8:00:00 AM

definition of nutrient dense foodsWeight loss trends come and go, but one fact always remains: you must burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. Eating fewer calories can be difficult, however, when hunger strikes. That’s why eating larger quantities of nutrient-dense foods may work to your advantage.

Nutrient-dense foods are lower in calories (so you can eat more of them) and high in vitamins and minerals (so your health will benefit from them). In general, eating lots of nutrient-dense foods and very few calorie-dense foods will help you accomplish greater weight loss. Nutrient-dense foods include fruits, vegetables, and lean protein like chicken and fish.

How you prepare these foods will impact whether they remain nutrient dense. If you fry your vegetables with lots of oil or butter, for instance, you add extra calories and fat that you don’t need. Eat these foods with minimal oil, dressing, or additives, and you’ll get maximum benefits. You’ll be consuming a greater quantity of food to help combat hunger without consuming too many calories.

If you’re not sure how to start changing your diet to more nutrient-dense foods, these tips may help:

  • Go to your farmer’s market. Locally grown, fresh produce tends to be more nutritious, cheaper, and tastier. Often the person selling the items can tell you different ways to prepare the food if you need tips.
  • Don’t be afraid to use frozen or canned produce. It doesn’t have to be all fresh, all the time. These can be quicker and easier to prepare, as there’s usually no washing or chopping necessary. When using these choices, check the labels to ensure they don’t contain added sugar or salt.
  • >It’s okay to play favorites. Variety is good, but don’t force yourself to eat fruits or vegetables you dislike. You don’t have to eat a spinach or kale salad if the thought makes you cringe. A leaf lettuce salad still has great health benefits. Hate cantaloupe? Don’t eat it. Stick with the fruits you love so you can enjoy your healthy diet a bit more.
  • Give your taste buds time to adjust. If you don’t like vegetables, it may be because your taste buds are used to eating fried or fatty foods. Be open to adding more nutrient-dense foods into your diet, and eventually you’ll find that the flavors really stand out when they aren’t masked by salt, oils, and other additives.

The concept of nutrient-dense foods is simple, but changing eating habits can be difficult. Gradually increase the amount of nutrient-dense foods you eat and decrease the others. Don’t try to make a drastic change overnight.

As you get used to this new way of eating, you may see health benefits like better sleep and more energy. Meanwhile, you’ll likely see that number on the scale start to decrease too.

CarePoint Health Bariatric Surgery

CarePoint Health Center for Bariatric Surgery offers a number of different weight-loss surgeries to help you meet your weight-loss goals, including sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, LAP-BAND®, and REALIZE® Band. To learn more about our bariatric surgery options, contact us at 201-795-8175 and register for our free seminar.

Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.

Topics: Bariatrics, Nutrition