Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients per calorie – the higher the amount of health-promoting nutrients per calorie, coupled with low amounts of fats, added sugars and salt (sodium), determines how nutrient-dense a food is.
Furthermore, the nutrient density, and so the overall nutritional value of the food, is affected by the way the food is prepared, cooked or processed.
How is nutrient density measured?
To determine nutrient density, nutrient-profiling methods are used. It measures how much specific nutrients are contained in a particular food per 100g, per 100 kcal or per serving. This is compared to the dietary recommendations, and sometimes assigned a score. Nutrient profiling methods rank foods, meals and diets.
Nutrient-dense foods that you need to include in your diet
In general, foods that are high in fibre, unsaturated fatty acids, potassium, calcium, iron, iodine and vitamin D3, score better than foods high in saturated fats, added sugars and salt.
Nutrient-dense foods include:
• Animal source foods: salmon, liver, sardines, egg yolks
• Plant-based foods: kale, garlic, potatoes, blueberries
As part of the overall quality of our diet, bear in mind other factors that influence our calorie and nutrient intake, such as portion sizes and how often we eat.