We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Nutrient Dense Foods?

By Katriena Knights
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

For those wishing to follow a more nutritious diet, nutrient dense foods are an important addition to their daily calorie intake, allowing them to eat well and obtain necessary vitamins and minerals but also to eat less and possibly to lose weight and increase overall health. Foods that are dense in nutrients carry a high level of nutrition in a smaller — and usually lower calorie — serving of food as compared to foods with lower nutrient density. Choosing nutrient-dense foods for snacks and meals can help reduce calories and increase nutrition in the everyday diet.

Common examples of nutrient dense foods are fruits and vegetables, especially those with dark, rich colors, such as leafy green vegetables, berries and carrots. Others include whole grains, nuts and seeds. These foods have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including the all-important antioxidants that help prevent illness, reduce signs of aging, keep the brain functioning, and possibly even prevent cancer in the long term. Many foods considered to be nutrient dense are also referred to as "super foods" because of their extremely high levels of nutrients as compared to their size. Low calorie foods such as these should form the base of any healthy diet.

In contrast to highly desirable nutrient dense foods, many people turn instead to empty-calorie foods, which have a high calorie content and little to no nutritional value. Comparing the calorie content and the available nutrients in a piece of candy to a handful of blueberries, for example, gives a vivid example of the difference between the two types of calories. In most cases, a food that is dense in nutrients will provide many times the amount of nutrition for half the calories.

Other empty-calorie foods to avoid or, even better, to replace include processed foods such as white bread and white rice, sugary sodas, candies, and high fat proteins. Lean proteins such as chicken or beans provide more nutrition in proportion to fat and calories than red meat, and they also are considered nutrient dense foods. Many popular foods that have become staples of the American diet, such as french fries and sodas, carry very little nutritional value. By replacing these empty-calorie foods with those that contain more nutrients, as well as adding more fresh water, it is possible to greatly increase overall health, lose weight, reduce risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and provide the body with a much higher quality of fuel on which to function.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By croydon — On Mar 15, 2012

@KoiwiGal - The thing is, as long as you reduce carbohydrates, which are what make up most of the empty-calorie foods, you'll be less likely to indulge in other kinds of foods. Anything with a fair amount of fat and protein tends to reduce appetite, which is why the Atkins diet works.

They've shown in scientific studies that the reason people on the Atkins diet lose weight is because they can't consume as many calories when eating only protein or fat, and that's why they lose weight.

It's still a good idea to make sure you keep tabs on your calories, but I think generally if you stick to nutrient dense foods you will naturally start to lose weight.

At any rate, you will definitely feel healthier and more able to be active so that can only help.

By KoiwiGal — On Mar 14, 2012

It's important to realize that just because something is healthy and nutrient dense, doesn't necessarily mean that it can help you lose weight. Everything has certain amount of nutrients, but everything also has certain amounts of fats and calories.

Seeds, for example, are very nutritious and they do form part of a balanced diet.

But, seeds have a lot of fat in them, gram for gram, much more than say, a carrot or some leafy greens.

Milk is also quite nutrient dense, as are milk products like cheese or yogurt, but they can also have varying amounts of fat.

Of course, you should still eat these foods as part of a healthy diet, but just bear in mind that they need to be eaten in moderation. Eating a kilo of sunflower seeds in addition to the rest of your meals will be just as fattening as eating a kilo of potato chips, even if it does add more nutrients to your diet.

When it comes to food, calorie count can be one of the most important factors for weight loss.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.