NUTRIENT DENSE FOOD; WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
Are all forms of food the same in nutrient density? Not in all cases, read on to see the differences:
Fruits and vegetables in season
Knowing which produce grows in season in your area will affect its nutritional density once it hits your kitchen table. Due to transportation and increased availability of fruits and vegetables year round, you may not know which picks are better than others based on what season it is. Some winter produce include cabbage and clementines, fall produce include cranberries and pumpkin, spring include asparagus and mango, and summer include berries and eggplant. Choosing produce that has been picked in season and locally available provides food in its peak nutrient capacity.
The more processed, the less nutrient dense
Eating a whole apple is not the same as drinking apple juice. The closer you are to the source of the foods, the most nutrients you will receive within it. Stripping the apple to make juice for instance, you are losing the fiber from the skin and pulp, and are left with the sugar of the fruit and a portion of vitamin C. Veggie chips are not the same as eating a bowl of cooked or raw vegetables. A lot of veggie chips are potato chips with vegetable powder or flavoring.
Boiling vegetables and discarding water loses important water soluble vitamins
Some vitamins in vegetables are considered water soluble, meaning it dissolves in water. When boiling vegetables and straining the remaining liquid, b vitamins, vitamin c and other water soluble vitamins get discarded along with the water. A way to avoid this is to reduce boiling time or use less liquid and incorporate it into a sauce that will be reintroduced into the dish.
Frozen produce actually has the most retained nutrients compared to canned and sometimes fresh
When produce companies pick fruits and vegetables to be frozen, they flash freeze it right after picking. This retains a lot of the nutrients in the food when its at its ripest in nutrient content. When shopping for frozen fruits and/or vegetables, look for those that do not have any added salt, sugar or fat. This will ensure that you are using the produce in its most natural state, where you can then add whatever you want after to keep unnecessary added calories to a minimum.
Combining these different tactics will help to ensure you are consuming foods while it is at its peak in nutrient content. A varied diet incorporating these tips will help meet your daily requirements of macro and micro nutrients to operate optimally.
By RDN Sofia Gourlides