What Is Nutrient Density?

nutrient-density Credit: wiedmaier/CC-BY-2.0

Nutrient density is indicated by the ratio of the level of nutrients in a food item relative to the number of calories found in the food item. According to the National Institutes of Health, foods that have plenty of nutrients but few calories are called nutrient-dense foods.

The National Institutes of Health recommend a number of nutrient-dense food options, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, seafood and eggs. A person with a healthy diet limits the amount of saturated and trans fats she consumes daily. Nutrient-dense foods should provide complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean protein as well as vitamins and minerals. Eating properly is the best way to get sufficient nutrition, but supplements remain a valid option for people who worry that they might not be getting the nutrients they need.