If you rely on supplements to get your daily fix of nutrients, consider rethinking your menu.
Adding nutrient-dense foods to everyday meals and snacks can significantly impact your intake of a surprising number of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Don’t get me wrong. Many people rely on supplements to supply certain nutrients that diet alone can’t deliver. A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement, for example, helps vegans meet vitamin B12 and iodine requirements.
Even so, your regular menu still needs to feature nutrient-dense foods. Here’s why.
What is nutrient density?
Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients in relation to the calorie content of a particular food. Nutrient-dense foods offer the greatest amount of nutrients in proportion to their calories.
Not surprisingly, vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish and lean meats are nutrient-dense foods, as are whole grains. Compared to white rice, brown rice provides five times more fibre, double the niacin and zinc and three times more potassium, a mineral needed for healthy blood pressure.
Eggs are another example of a nutrient-packed food. For only 75 calories, one large egg supplies 6 g of protein, B vitamins, a hefty amount of brain-friendly choline and many minerals, including one-quarter of a day’s with of immune-supportive selenium.
Getting the most nutrition from calories consumed is especially important for older adults who have reduced appetites. A nutrient-dense diet helps maintain physical health, cognition and reduces the risk of diet-related chronic disease.
6 multi-tasking foods to add to your diet
The following foods (by no means an inclusive list) each supply a wide array of often under-consumed nutrients. Their exceptional nutrient contributions will boost the nutritional value of meals and snacks and infuse variety into your diet.
One-quarter-cup delivers 10 g of plant protein, 2 g of fibre, 3 mg of iron, 190 mg of blood-sugar and blood-pressure-regulating magnesium (adults need 310 to 420 mg daily) and 2.5 mg of immune-supportive zinc, along with a range of other essential vitamins and minerals.
This nutritional powerhouse supplies, per one cup, 15 g each of protein and fibre, 79 mg of calcium, 85 mg of magnesium, 3.6 mg of iron and an impressive 746 mg of potassium, the amount found in two small bananas (adults need 4500 mg daily).
Pinto beans are also a decent source of zinc and selenium.
Three quarters-cup of these young green soybeans (shelled) offer 13.5 g of protein, 6 g of fibre, 507 mg of potassium and nearly a full days’ worth of folate, a B vitamin used to make red blood cells and repair DNA in cells (adults need 400 mcg per day).
Edamame is also an excellent source of choline and bone-building vitamin K.
This nutrient-dense leafy green delivers big on nutrition. One cup, cooked, serves up 4 g of fibre, 150 mg of magnesium, 100 mg of calcium, 4 mg of iron, 961 mg of potassium and 31 mg of vitamin C (women and men need 75 and 90 mg daily, respectively).
It also supplies a hefty amount of beta-carotene (6.4 mg), an antioxidant thought to protect brain and heart health.
This this nutty-tasting whole grain wheat is harvested when the wheat is young and green, and then roasted to burn off the husks. One cup of cooked freekeh provides 12 g each of protein and fibre, 106 mg of magnesium and 3.6 mg of iron.
Freekeh is also an outstanding source of manganese, a mineral needed for normal nerve and brain function. It’s also used to make to make enzymes in the body that thwart free radical damage to cells.
Their claim to fame isn’t only their rich source of heart- and brain-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Three ounces of sardines also deliver an outstanding amount of protein (21 g), calcium (324 mg), selenium (80 per cent of a full days’ worth) and 7.5 mcg of vitamin B12 (adults need 2.4 mcg per day).
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.