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12 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Nutrient Dense Foods - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Nutrient-dense foods have more nutrients than calories per portion.
  • Nutrient-rich foods contain more vitamins, proteins, healthy fats, and minerals than calories compared to energy-dense foods.
  • Choose nutrient-rich foods that are low in sodium and bad fats.
  • Among the most nutrient-rich foods are vegetables, proteins, lean meat, fruits, and unrefined carbohydrates.
  • Nutrient-dense foods keep you healthy, active, and disease-free. Plus, it keeps your brain and bones functioning always.
  • Nutrient-rich foods include vegetables, salmon, seaweed, garlic, shellfish, cacao, liver, asparagus, lean beef, yogurt, and green beans.
  • Nutrient density is the ratio of nutrients to calories in a portion of food you eat.

Introduction

Having a healthy body requires a lot of care and commitment. The amount of nutrients you take daily determines how healthy and disease-resistant you will be. Nutrient density is the number of helpful nutrients a certain amount of food holds concerning the number of calories.

So, you need to evaluate the number of nutrients you will get from the ration of food you eat. In essence, healthy eating demands you eat food with more nutrients and fewer calories.

When keeping track of your calorie intake, it is good to take the maximum amount of nutrients but eat less energy dense foods. So, choose nutrient-rich foods to increase the number of nutrients you take daily.

Ensure you balance your diet with proteins, vitamins, minerals, and little carbs for energy. Therefore, eat more vegetables, lean meats, green beans (legumes), and low-calorie fruits. Add unrefined grains, healthy fats, and mineral-rich foods.

Some nutritious foods[1] include seaweed, shellfish, salmon, green beans, lean beef, and asparagus. Others are yogurt, fiber-rich foods, beets, liver, shiitake mushrooms, and cacao.

Nutrient Density

Nutrient density is the number of nutrients a particular amount of food contains. In short, the nutrient density of foods is the ratio of valuable nutrients per calorie in the food portion you consume.

That is the number of ingredients that benefit you relative to the food’s energy content. Nutrients in foods may include proteins, vitamins, minerals, high fiber, low carb foods, and other healthy nutrients.

Specifically, you express nutrient density based on the amount of a specific nutrient (in weight) per 1000 calories or joules. E.g., compare the nutrient density of iron in eggs (13.6 mg/1000 calories) to 19.4mg in meat and 150mg in spinach. Generally, many vegetables may contain more nutrients per calorie you consume compared to many other energy-dense foods.

Nutrient Density

Do Nutrient Dense Foods Have Any Benefits?

A close analysis of nutrient-dense foods shows they are high fiber low carb foods, have a lot of minerals, vitamins, healthy fats, and few calories.

Additionally, they have little sugars, unhealthy fats, sodium, and starch. So, ensure any food you take has more nutrients than calories. Eat a lot of vegetables, low-calorie fruits, legumes, or plant proteins. Add lean meat plus unrefined carbohydrates.

As such, nutrient-dense foods keep you well-nourished and healthy. Still, they boost your immunity, the central nervous system, brain functions, daily activity, and growth.

So, to remain healthy, disease-free, and active, eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet should have more nutrient-dense foods than energy-dense foods. In the end, you will get more energy to work, play, and think better.

Plus, more nutrients help your muscles, brain, bones, and other organs function well for a better quality of life, and the nutrients will help prevent and fight many chronic diseases that may arise.

Overview Of Some 12 Most Nutrient Dense Foods

To help you remain healthy and active, you must eat foods that contain more nutrients than calories[2]. The foods include low-fat foods, low-sugar foods, vitamins, minerals, lean meats, and fibers. So, here are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you should include in your diet for a healthier life.

1. Salmon

Salmon is one of the fattiest fish. Salmon is not only fatty, but it comes with large amounts of Omega3. The good thing is fats in salmon are healthy and never turn into bad cholesterol. Recent studies show that people who take salmon and other fatty fish have a reduced risk of depression and heart disease. Moreover, Omega3 improves cognitive or brain functions, thus boosting memory and preventing memory loss.

2. Seaweed

There are massive amounts of vegetation in the sea. Seaweed is among the most nutrient-dense vegetables. Some of the seaweed is edible and very nutritious. Such plants or seaweed are packed with minerals and nutrients. Seaweed contains large amounts of iodine. Studies show that iodine supports thyroid hormones in your body. Proper function of thyroid glands helps prevent others that contain antioxidant compounds which have anti-inflammation abilities.

3. Garlic

Garlic is an ingredient used to make all sorts of dishes at home. It is rich in Vitamins C, B1 and B6. Also, it contains minerals such as potassium and manganese. Still, garlic helps lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol. And recent studies show that garlic has several cancers fighting properties.

4. Shellfish

Despite having many benefits, most people rarely eat shellfish. Oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops are different types of shellfish. Shellfish[3] are the most nutritious among all sea animals. Specifically, oysters are rich in zinc, high amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Clams contain large amounts of Vitamin B12. Still, oysters, scallops, and clams are very nutritious and contain vitamins, potassium, and iron.

5. Asparagus

Asparagus
Asparagus is among the most nutrient-dense vegetables that are healthy and tasty. It is among the best fiber, low-carb foods. Asparagus is rich in fiber, fat, sodium, carbohydrate, sugar, protein, and vitamin K. It prevents cardiovascular diseases and may contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Also, asparagus helps improve digestion due to its high fiber content. You may include it in your diet if you want to lose weight. Asparagus is cheap to buy, and it comes with many health benefits. E.g., burning belly fat, acting as an antioxidant, and boosting heart health.

6. Green beans

Various types of green beans offer many health benefits since they are nutrient-packed. Include green beans in your diet to help prevent cancer, fight depression, and boost fertility. Green beans contain carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A.

7. Beets

People who want to lose weight include beets in their diet. Beets not only have a low-calorie count, but they also have very high nutritional value. Beets have many nutrients and manganese in large quantities. Manganese helps maintain good bone density and can help prevent fractures.

8. Liver

It is the most nutritious organ meat. The liver is an organ that performs loads of functions to help in metabolic activities in the body. It carries minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, vitamins, and high-quality animal protein.

9. Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are a popular type of mushroom believed to have originated from East Asia. Also, Shiitake mushrooms are known as oakwood mushrooms or black mushrooms. The high nutrient density of shiitake mushrooms compared to their calorie count makes them perfect for somebody looking to lose weight. Also, you can get more antioxidants and minerals when you include Shiitake mushrooms in your diet without affecting your weight loss journey.

Shiitake mushrooms contain sizable amounts of vitamins, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Also, the mushrooms have fibers that improve your digestion.

Shiitake mushrooms[4] help in skin maintenance due to their anti-oxidation qualities. The mushrooms help in weight loss and improve blood circulation. They have anti-cancer potential, among other benefits.

10. Cacao

Cacao is unprocessed cocoa. It has high levels of antioxidants, unlike cocoa which is processed cacao. Cacao helps reduce inflammation. And you can use various types of dried cacao to make chocolate. Reportedly, Cacao products have medicinal benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing bad cholesterol. Additionally, eating cacao prevents heart and liver diseases, among other benefits. Cacao contains theobromine, which supports mental and physical health by acting as a stimulant to the central nervous system.

11. Raw Cheese

Raw Cheese
Raw cheese is nutrient-dense and has a lot of minerals. Still, it contains beneficial bacteria since it is not heated up. It is high in vitamins D and K2, found in fermented animal products. Also, raw cheese is rich in calcium which makes your bones stronger. And it contains fat, protein, and even omega 3 since it is from grass-fed milk.

12. Yogurt

Yogurt is a nutrient-dense food that contains large amounts of protein. Also, yogurt has probiotic advantages since it is a fermented animal product. Specifically, yogurt has plenty of bacterial cultures[5], offers flexible food compounds, and has several health benefits for unstable individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some nutrient dense foods include kales, green vegetables, liver, seaweed, shellfish, garlic, and asparagus. Other nutrient-rich foods include beets, grapes, raw cheese, green beans, salmon, shiitake mushrooms, lean beef, and yogurt. Eat nutrient-rich foods with as many nutrients as possible without interfering with your calorie count.

Recent studies show that the best meal should contain more nutrients than calories. A nutritious meal should balance proteins, vitamins, minerals, high fiber low carb foods, and little sugars. Nutrient dense foods help keep your body in great shape and healthy.

No single food contains all minerals. But, you can get all the minerals you need if you eat a variety. Some mineral-rich foods include beans, shellfish, mushrooms, cheese, liver, and dried fruits.

Grapes are low-calorie fruits which makes them a good snack. Grapes have a lot of nutrients, making you healthy. There are different colored grapes, and all of them are good for your health.

Yes. If you eat bread that has a sizeable amount of calories without working out to burn the extra calories, you will get fat. Bread is among the most energy dense foods.

Conclusion

Foods rich in nutrients are healthier than energy dense foods. For better nutrition, eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, low calorie fruits, and fewer carbs. Some healthy nutrient-loaded foods include salmon, asparagus, seaweed, and shellfish. Others are cacao, yogurt, shiitake mushrooms, liver, raw cheese, green beans, beets, and garlic.

So, eat nutrient-rich foods to help the body’s physical, mental, central nervous, and immune systems functions. Therefore, pick the most nutrient dense vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, whole cereals, and mineral-rich foods.

And avoid energy dense foods that contain a lot of sodium, unhealthy fats, plenty of carbohydrates, and high sugar content. Such foods may cause chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

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