We've heard a lot over the past decade about nutrient-rich ‘superfoods’. And for good reason! Nutrient-rich foods are essential for the immune system to function well, and they are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as other key components important for maintaining the health of the body. However, our diets mostly consist of energy-dense and processed/packaged foods. Of course, we need energy (calories) to get through the day, but much of the high-calorie food we are putting in our bodies contain very little in the way of nutrients. This is where the term ‘empty calories’ comes from. These include foods with high levels of saturated fats, added sugars, cholesterol, and sodium and have negative health consequences if not consumed in moderation.
That's why it is so important to get a variety of nutrient-dense foods in our diets.
What are nutrient-dense foods?
Nutrient-dense foods include many of the dietary basics, your green whole foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, but also whole grains, peas, beans, nuts, and seeds. Foods that are high in protein, calcium, vitamin D, A, C, and E, fiber, magnesium, and iron are all great choices and can all be found in a plant-centered diet.
How to incorporate them into your regular diet?
Many people simply aren’t used to these fiber-rich foods yet so they can perceive them as tasting bland or unfamiliar at first. However as you slowly start to incorporate them into your diet, you’ll likely never want to go back to the unhealthy food groups again. Here are a few easy ways to incorporate them:
- Meal prep: meal prep allows you to plan your meals carefully and appropriately manage what is going into each meal at the start of the week, this helps you set a goal of what you want to eat as well as controlling portion sizes.
- Replace artificial sugars with natural ones: sugar drinks and sweets can easily be replaced with fresh fruit, tea, and coffee.
- Replace unhealthy snacks: crunchy veggies with hummus is a great way to go!
- Boost your intake of plants: plant-based diets have surged in popularity over the past few years. There are now boundless tasty and exciting recipes and cookbooks to help you get the most out of your nutrient-rich foods!
Vitamins & Supplements
Vitamins and other nutritional supplements can be a great addition to your already nutrient-rich diet. In my experience, most people require at least one supplement to fill in any nutrient gaps of essential vitamins. It is important to consult your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplements and choosing the right ones for your diet. I recommend specialized advanced micronutrient testing to see what exactly you're missing. If you'd like to explore that further, get in touch with me today!