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All Calories are Not Created Equal – Part 4

popeye spinach

What are nutrient dense foods? As I’ve talked about previously, not all foods or calories are created equal. When I create nutrition plans for my clients, I include mostly nutrient dense foods for every plan. How is the nutritional value of a food measured? It’s pretty simple. How much nutritional value does a food have, compared to the calories in a serving. We all know most nuts are nutrient dense, but they certainly aren’t low calorie. How does that work? Nuts are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. A handful of nuts may contain a lot of calories, but it packs a nutritional punch. Compare that to popcorn. A handful of popcorn, depending upon how it’s prepared may have very few calories, but there’s really no nutritional value, therefore it’s not a nutrient dense food.

When planning meals, I recommend the most nutrient dense lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables as well as certain beans, grains and legumes. No one goes hungry on my meal plans. In fact, many of my clients say they feel more energized and have stopped craving between meal snacks.

Recently a client asked me for a list of the most nutrient dense foods available. I had to think about it. You can do your own internet search to find list after list. Chances are, no two lists will contain the same items. However, experts do agree on a few of these:

Nutrient Dense Foods

  • Kale – it’s green, it’s crunchy and it’s packed full of nutrients. I don’t love it raw, but if I wilt it for a few moments on the stove, it has a great texture and doesn’t lose any nutritional value and works perfectly in a salad.
  • Broccoli – lots of fiber, lots of vitamins. Tastes great raw or cooked. Alone or in soups, salads and side dishes.
  • Spinach – Popeye was right. Enough said.
  • Berries – less sugars than most other fruits, these are full of flavor, fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants. The darker the color, the more nutrient dense.
  • Chocolate – don’t go diving into a bag of M & M’s right now. It’s organic, dark chocolate or even better…cocoa nibs or cacao beans that have all of the nutrition, minerals and anti-oxidants. Sugar has no benefit, other than to make some chocolate flavors more palatable.

Think before you put food in your mouth. Making healthy, nutritious choices is easier than you think. Contact me today to create a nutrition and workout plan that’s right for you and get into the best shape of your life.

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