A healthy, nutrient-rich diet is especially important as we age as it fuels our bodies, muscles, and mind. Surprisingly, researchers say that the average diet lacks the crucial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for looking and feeling our best. In fact, more than 90% of us don't get enough vitamin E, vitamin D, and other important nutrients from our foods alone. Let’s explore how eating nutrient-dense food can help to alleviate this problem and help you live your best life.
Related Blog: 4 Main Foods and Recipes That Support Healthy Aging
What is Nutrient Density?
Nutrient density calculates:
- The total calories in a serving of a specific food
- The amount of nutrients — such as protein, vitamins, and minerals — in that same serving of food
- The final ratio between nutrients and calories
The more nutrients per calorie of food, the more nutrient dense it is!
What Foods are Nutrient-Dense?
Now that we know what nutrient-dense means, some nutrient-dense foods include:
- Whole grains and whole-grain products
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products
- Chicken and other lean meats
- Legumes, such as beans and peas
- Nuts and seeds
Keep in mind that this list focuses on whole food ingredients. Ideally, when eating nutrient-dense foods, you should emphasize minimally processed foods. Once these foods are processed (e.g., with added sweeteners, added fats, etc.) they become more calorie-dense and less nutrient-dense.
The Best Nutrient-Dense Foods
The above categories are general best practices, and anyone will experience health benefits by incorporating more of these nutrient-dense foods in their diet. However, researchers recently analyzed specific foods and recommended the following as some of the most nutrient-dense options for your diet:
- Whole grains: Millet, sorghum, and quinoa
- Vegetables: Roots and tubers, such as sweet potatoes, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale
- Dairy: Yogurt and cheese
- Seafood: Salmon and other omega-3-rich fish, as well as shellfish like clams or mussels
- Meats: Chicken, pork, and organ meats (e.g., beef liver)
- Fruits: Mango, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and other vitamin A-rich fruits
What Are the Benefits of Eating Nutrient-Dense Foods?
Eating a clean, nutrient-rich diet is best for your overall health, especially as you age. For example, Harvard Medical School warns that seniors are at a higher risk than other age groups for a nutrient deficiency.
By adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet, you'll experience numerous benefits:
- More nutrients per calorie, which can help you to manage a healthy weight
- Reduced risk of the common health concerns linked with aging and nutrient deficiencies, including a reduced risk of anemia, cognitive impairment, and osteoporosis
- Improved sleep
- Better mental health and improved mood
- Enhanced muscle strength, and side benefits that include a reduced risk of falls and injuries
- Improved joint health, and side benefits that include more mobility and flexibility
Because of the numerous benefits that come with a nutrient-dense diet, Moorings Park Communities strives to give our members the most deliciously healthy meals. In fact, each of our various restaurants' menus change weekly, delivering creative, tasty, and health-conscious cuisine that includes organic, dairy-free, and gluten-free options.
Learn more about how Moorings Park's luxury independent living communities can enrich your life by contacting us for more information.