Nutrient dense foods to help reach 2014 health goals

Eating nutrient dense foods is not only a positive health choice, but they will keep you full for long, benefiting your return on investment.

Everyday we make decisions on what to eat, trying to make choices based on what is best for our health. We often get mixed messages from the media, advertisements and the newest fad diet of the week. These confusing messages can make it tricky. But, if you choose your foods based on nutrient density, you will make healthier food decisions. Selecting foods rich in nutrients helps your body maintain a healthy weight and provides you quality, sustained energy. Michigan State University Extension recommends choosing foods high in nutrients to help you to reach your health goals.

Nutrient density is a way to determine the nutritional quality of food. Nutrient dense foods contain more nutrients per calorie than foods that are not nutrient dense. Another way to look at it is that you get more calories from vitamins, minerals and protein rather than fat, sugar or refined grains. Typically, highly processed foods are less nutrient dense than foods that are whole or minimally processed.

It is midafternoon, and you feel hungry. You have two available choices: A bag of baked potato chips or a bag of strawberries. What should you chose? Both foods are the same calories but the strawberries contain more fiber, vitamin C and folate. The chips in this case are not as nutrient dense as the strawberries. The fiber from the berries will make you feel more full and satisfied until your next meal and the extra vitamin C will help boost your immune system.

In general, you can count on the following foods to be nutrient dense:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains like brown rice, whole grain pasta, breads and cereals.
  • Low fat dairy, meat and eggs
  • Beans, nuts and seeds
  • Beverages without added sugar

Reading the food label on products will help you determine which foods are less nutrient dense. These types of food may be refined products (rather than whole grain), contain a lot of refined sugar and contain higher amounts of fat in comparison to similar foods, such as whole milk verses skim milk (skim milk is more nutrient dense).

Choosing nutrient dense foods will help you take the confusion out of making healthy choices each day. Make 2014 the most profitable year possible by making food choices that give you the best return on your investment – a healthier, happier you!

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