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Nutrient Density Is the Good Ol’ New Way to Eat

There’s no “silver bullet” or single neat solution that will get each of us to start eating a perfectly healthy diet that nourishes body and soul.

Trendy, restrictive (and expensive) diets aren’t the answer. An estimated 95% of diets fail—or fail the people following them, depending on how you look at it.

What about more intuitive eating, or “un-dieting,” as some call it? Focusing on hardworking, nutrient-dense foods that help you feel good may be the meaningful eating trend that helps everyone live a healthier, happier life.

Nutrient Density and Why It Matters

All calories are not created equal. It’s the nutrition in those calories that makes the difference between food that supports your health and helps you feel good…and food that doesn’t.

A nutrient-dense food gives you the most important nutrients for the fewest calories. By contrast, “junk food” offers a lot of calories by weight (including sugars and unhealthy fats), but not much else in terms of the real sustenance your body needs.

Getting more nutrient-dense foods in your daily diet boosts your nutrients without adding calories—which is important, because it’s the imbalance of calories in versus calories burned that determines whether or not you gain weight.

As you get older, it’s increasingly challenging to get the nutrients you need through diet alone. Your body doesn’t absorb nutrients as well as it used to, at just the time that your need for calories (and often, your appetite) wanes, so it’s even more important to get the most nourishment from the foods you eat. Back to nutrient-dense foods: calorie for calorie, they provide more vitamins, minerals, fiber, lean protein, unsaturated fats, and other nutrients that you need to stay healthy.

Some of the Best Nutrient-Dense Foods

These foods pack some of the most serious nutrition on the planet, with enough variety to satisfy just about any palate. Start here and let your repertoire of healthy foods grow!


Learn more about the power of nutrient-dense eating from the sources we tapped for this article.

Harvard Health Letter, “Add More Nutrient-Dense Foods to Your Diet,”, 7/17/15. Accessed 1/28/19.

Kris Gunnars, “The 11 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet,”, 8/27/18. Accessed 1/28/19.

Libby Weaver, PhD, “8 Ways to Increase the Nutrient Density of Your Diet,”, 2/10/17. Accessed 1/28/19.

Lindsay Boyers, “Empty-Calorie Foods vs. Nutrient-Dense Foods,”, 12/6/18. Accessed 1/28/19.

Rachael Link, “The 14 Healthiest Vegetables on Earth,”, 5/14/17. Accessed 1/28/19.

The World’s Healthiest Foods, “What Is Nutrient Density and Why Is It So Important?”, undated. Accessed 1/28/19.


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