Nutrient Dense Foods
I use the expression “Nutrient dense” often when teaching cooking classes. It is an important principle for healing and for maintaining vibrant health.
Nutrient dense foods
Nutrient-dense foods are low in calories but contain high levels of “micronutrients” – vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, phytochemicals, enzymes. A good example is dark leafy green vegetables. Greens provide us with a huge array of valuable nutrients, including protein, but have relatively little carbohydrate or fat (compared to grains, for example). Animal proteins like eggs and meats can also be considered nutrient dense.
How to combat fatigue
One of the most important reasons for making sure we get
plenty of micronutrients is that they are nutritional “spark plugs”. To produce energy efficiently in our cells we
need a wide range of available vitamins and minerals.
Have you ever noticed how sugary or starchy foods can give a brief boost of energy – then leave you feeling washed out and irritated? Almost all consumed carbohydrate is eventually converted into glucose. Cells can readily burn about 20% of this glucose immediately for energy. However to use the remaining 80% the cell requires B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese and many more supporting nutrients.
In general raw, whole, unprocessed foods are more nutrient dense.
Modern food processing methods provide us with a vast array
of convenience foods – but most of it is stripped of real nutritional
value. The most valuable nutritional
components of food are also the most unstable.
So manufacturers prefer to make
food from ingredients that are already stripped of nutrients – like sugar,
white flour, cornstarch and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to work hard to find
sufficient bulk carbohydrates, fats and proteins for survival. These days it’s not hard to find these things
– we have MacDonalds and Pizza Hut! But
our ancestors did consume a huge variety of wild plants and animal foods that
were nutrient dense – of course they didn’t have refrigerators and their food
was always absolutely fresh! Modern
degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are caused as
much by nutritional lack as by over-consuming fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Some of our favourite nutrient-dense foods?
Dark leafy greens
Animal products such as eggs, offal (like chicken livers), meats and fish (preferably free range, wild and organic)
Edible wild weeds and herbs
Sprouts and shoots, from nuts, seeds, beans and grains
Raw, soaked nuts and seeds
Fermented foods — such as sauerkraut and yoghurt
Fresh vegetable juices — especially with greens
Superfoods — nutrient-packed, convenient whole foods, such as spirulina, bee pollen, barley grass
Can I just take multi-vitamins?
Whole foods provide us benefits way beyond the components we can isolate and identify. Good old-fashioned food
will always be the best way to obtain full nutrition. There are high quality supplements available, but even these
are no subsitute for real food. One major benefit of eating more fresh whole foods is that we naturally eat less
Green juice powders
We recommend high quality green juice powders as a way convenient way of boosting “nutrient density” in the diet. These are carefully processed at low-temperatures to retain all the valuable nutrients. These powders seem to provide energy – in fact they just make us more efficient at burning the fuel (bulk carbohydrate) that we already eat too much of. Find out more and try powders like spirulina, chorella and barleygrass.