Continuing with National Nutrition Month ® theme “Nutrition from the Ground Up, dietitians prefer to think, and teach, about foods as “nutrient-rich” and not “good” or “bad.” What does nutrient-rich mean? Nutrient rich foods are packed with vitamins and minerals and, even if they are high in calories, such as fatty fish, nuts, nut butter and DARK chocolate, they are good for you and are ok in the proper servings. Low-calorie foods can also be nutrient-rich when they are packed with vitamins and minerals too, such as vegetables, fruit and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.
Other foods, usually thought of as diet foods, containing low- or no- calories, generally are not nutrient rich. People tend to consume, or over-consume them because of the “diet” label, but they are nutrient “zeros” since they don’t have nutrients in them – no calories, but also no vitamins or minerals either. Since people think these foods don’t count towards their overall calories they don’t consider how they can push aside the healthy foods they could be putting in their place like water or unsweetened tea.
What should you do?
Don’t shy away from high calorie foods like nuts, nut butters, and even avocados because they are so high in calories and fat. These are healthy fats and quality calories and nutrient: hence the “nutrient rich” moniker.
On the other hand, reconsider the 100 calorie snack pack foods, which don’t have a whole lot of anything except calories. They are ok snacks, but sometimes people will eat two or three before they are satisfied. Consider having a handful of nuts (1/4 cup or 1 ounce) or 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter which will add up to 160 – 190 calories. Add a piece of fruit at another 80-110 calories you have a nutrient rich snack full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fat totaling about 300 calories and SATISFACTION compared to the 100 calories snack pack leaving you wanting another one or two more…which could end up with 300 calories, but not the same nutrients.
For more ideas for Nutrient Rich foods and recipes, visit the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition.
So skip those “diet” foods and the teasers and have real foods full of nutrients and become nutrient rich.