Empty calorie vs. Nutrient dense foods.
While all foods contain nutrients, nutrient-dense foods are more beneficial for maintaining optimal health, as they provide more nutrients than calories. Unlike nutrient-dense foods, empty-calorie foods or energy-dense foods are nutritionally poor food choices, as they contain more calories than nutrients.
A high intake of empty-calorie foods may cause weight gain, especially if your intake of calories exceeds their utilization. However, having a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods will help to maintain healthy weight in addition to supplying nutrients that protect against diseases.
Let's dig a bit deeper shall we. What are empty calorie foods ? Most empty-calorie foods are highly processed foods that contain added fat and sugar. Examples include baked products such as cakes, cookies, pies and pastries as well as puddings, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, breaded fried burgers and ice cream.
Empty-calorie foods also make up most of the long shelf life foods and beverages sold in vending machines such as chips, salted snacks, candy, soda, energy and sports drinks. Although empty-calorie foods are cheaper and more readily available than nutrient-dense foods, habitual consumption of these foods can have a negative effect on health.The major disadvantage of frequently consuming empty-calorie foods is that energy, f not used for physical activity, is now stored in the body as fat, and over time, result in weight gain and obesity.
Nutrient dense foods on the other hand are packed with vitamins, minerals and energy sources that your body can use. Eating a healthy, balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods provides many nutrients that are required to maintain health.
This means planning meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products, nuts, beans, seeds, turkey, chicken, fish and lean cuts of meats. These foods provide fewer calories but are excellent sources of nutrients such as the B-vitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids. A plate of colorful vegetables and fruits, whole-grain foods instead of foods made with refined carbohydrates and broiled or roasted, lean meats will provide foods that are nutrient-dense.
70% of the foods at an average U.S. grocery store are comprised of empty calories and carbs that provide little, if any nutritional value. The foods that are high in sugar may even be toxic for your health. So instead of looking for foods with a catchy slogan on it, opt for foods that have no label at all! Yes I do mean veggies and fruits with lean cuts of meat !