April 29, 2022

Nutriving’s Nutrient Dense Definition

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We have thrown the words “nutrient dense” out there many times. But let’s get into it, what is our official nutrient dense definition? You might have heard of nutrition buzzwords like “superfoods” or “clean.”

Here at Nutriving, we really don’t use those words because we feel that they may be misleading or polarizing. We do, however, use the word “nutrient dense” because that can be easily definable and easy to describe some of our favorite foods. 


Nutriving’s Nutrient Dense Definition

Our best nutrient dense definition is : food items that have a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients.


Why not define them as “Superfoods”?

Why not use “superfoods”? The reason we do not use words like that as often is because they can be misleading. We tend to overestimate the impact of these foods with a name that implies they are “super”.

Food can be packed with lots of nutrients and wonderful components that can help our bodies function better. But alas! They are not magical.

Many of these foods work synergistically with others in order to exert their wonderful properties. Some foods may seem like “superfoods” but they are just foods with high concentrations of nutrients. 


Nutrient Dense Definition: Other Reputable Sources

Unlike other nutrition buzzwords, our nutrient dense definition is shared with other very reputable sources. For example, the National Cancer Institute has an article defining nutrient dense foods as foods that have high concentration of nutrients and relatively low calories.


The American Heart Association outlines ways to incorporate more nutrient dense foods in our diet by including whole grains, a variety of fruit and vegetables, and including seafood in our meals.


We are intentional about the language we use to describe food. We do not want to confuse anyone or use polarizing language.

We have also learned that describing foods with morally charged language can harm an individual’s relationship with food. We have a good article on this in case you’re curious!


For all of these reasons, we would like to:

  1. clarify our nutrient dense definition and
  2. utilize the words nutrient dense to describe foods that give our bodies more bang for our nutritional buck.

What are Nutrient Dense Foods?


Let me break this down for you. There are many nutrient dense foods in the world, but some stand out more than others. The key is understanding their concentration of nutrients per amount. 


One example is kale. Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium and magnesium.

It also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can benefit our health.

You don’t have to eat an inhumane amount of kale in order to obtain the nutrients this vegetable contains!


Another nutrient dense food is salmon. Salmon is a fatty fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for our hearts and cognitive function. It also contains vitamins D and B12, as well as selenium and zinc. 


Also, almonds are nutrient dense because they contain a variety of essential nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

They also contain antioxidants that can protect our bodies from damage caused by free radicals. This combination of nutrients makes almonds a valuable addition to any diet.


There are many other nutrient dense foods out there.  And what’s more, they are also found in your regular grocery store!

You don’t have to purchase them from a specialty high-end grocery store to get nutrient dense food. Nutritionally dense foods can be affordable and incredibly versatile!  


Nutrient Dense Meals

Highly nutritious foods can share the spotlight! Nutrient dense foods can be incorporated into a diet and become nutrient dense meals. This may sound harder to achieve than it actually is.

When it comes to food, we tend to overcomplicate things. Here are a few items that you can keep in your grocery list to ensure your meals are more nutrient dense!


– dark leafy greens

– berries 

– nuts

– raw cacao nibs 

– seeds

– whole grains 

– seafood 

Whole wheat pasta with spinach and fish make a great nutritionally rich dinner! Oatmeal, walnuts and berries can be a good addition to your breakfast. Raw cacao nibs can elevate your next sweet treat to a whole different level. 

bowl of oatmeal with nuts and berries nutrient dense definition

These are just a few examples, but there are many nutrient dense foods out there! And the best part is that they come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors.

So no matter what your taste preferences are, you can find nutrient dense foods that you love. 

We cover this extensively in our Nourished & Empowered group program. If you’re curious, join us and learn how you too can create a delicious nutrient dense plate! 


So what is the definition of nutrient dense food?

Simply put, nutrient dense foods are items that contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in high concentrations and contribute to positive health benefits when consumed regularly.


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I am a Registered Dietitian (RD) based in Chicago, IL. I have worked in various clinical settings including dialysis, ICU, and NICU. I am bilingual and love my Spanglish speaking peeps!

One Comment

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