Including more naturally nutrient-dense foods all day long
by NatureBox Nutritionist Kat Brown, MS RD RYT
We’ve already discussed why it is important to pay attention to the quality of your snacking and see it as an opportunity to power pack your day. Between-meal munching is your chance to increase your variety, try new foods, and include nutrient dense foods in your diet.
So what are nutrient dense foods anyways, and why are they a hot topic lately? Nutrient dense foods (you may have also heard them called “superfoods”) are unprocessed and high quality- they provide a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants per serving. Research suggests that these dense foods have positive impact on our bodies, and diets rich in nutrient dense foods are potentially linked with less risk of heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and perhaps even effects on aging.
Researchers are developing and testing many different scales to measure and analyze nutrient dense foods- you may have seen the “ORAC” (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) or “ANDI” (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) scales on the health food aisle or at high-end grocery chains. Keep in mind that the whole body relevance of these scales is still being determined, but it is always a good idea to include more produce, fatty fish, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains and spices, all of which score high on these scales.
Here are a few foods that are naturally nutrient dense, and ways you can include them into your snacks:
- Berries are packed with nutritious antioxidants, fiber, and of course flavor! Blueberries top the charts for antioxidant power, but any berries are a great choice. Fresh, frozen, or dried, berries are delicious in yogurt or cereal or as part of your snack with nuts or cheese for staying power.
- Dark leafy green vegetables score high in the nutrient dense department. Try kale chips made in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you’re feeling even more adventurous at snack time, try a green smoothie- commercially prepared versions are available, or check out this groovy green smoothie recipe.
- Beans are a no-brainer in the superfoods category- high in fiber and vitamins, they make a great compliment to any meal or snack. For a double dose of nutritious goodness, snack on raw veggies with hummus- made with nutrient packed garbanzo beans, olive oil and garlic.
Have some fun trying out these naturally nutrient dense foods! Also, keep in mind that different bodies need different things- there is no “one size fits all” approach to nutrition. If you have specific needs or dietary concerns, find a Registered Dietitian in your area for a consultation.
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Kat Brown MS RD RYT is a San Francisco Bay Area based Registered Dietitian and Yoga Teacher. As a nutrition counselor, writer, cook, and yogini she seeks to inspire others to nourish themselves and live balanced, fulfilled lives.