We’re all familiar with macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Likewise, we’ve all heard of micronutrients like vitamin A, iron, calcium, and more. But knowing where to find these micronutrients isn’t always as straightforward as identifying macronutrients. To eat a truly balanced diet, it’s important to know how to choose nutritionally dense food for your everyday meals.
Foods vary greatly in their nutrient density, and simply avoiding processed foods doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting all the nutrition you need. Even stereotypically healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats provide different levels of health benefits. Here’s how to ensure your diet contains all the nutrients your body needs.
Nutritionally Dense Vegetables & Fruits
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of micronutrients and minerals your body needs to thrive. While this list is by no means comprehensive, here are a few of the most nutritious produce types available today:
- Leafy green vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.
- “Starchy” vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots
- Legumes: beans, peas, almonds, nuts, etc.
- Colorful fruit: strawberries, oranges, kiwi, etc.
Pro Tip: Beans are an excellent source of protein compared to other types of produce. A vegetarian diet should contain plenty of beans to ensure you’re getting enough protein.
Foods to Limit
Unsurprisingly, just as there are a variety of healthy foods, there is a seemingly equal variety of unhealthy foods. While completely eliminating these foods from your diet is not (usually) necessary, keeping them to a minimum will help your body. These foods include:
- Trans fats and saturated fats: fast food, margarine, etc.
- Sugar: candy, desserts, soda, etc.
- Red meat: beef, lamb, etc.
- Alcohol: wine, beer, any dishes that include alcohol
As you adjust your diet to consume less of these potentially harmful foods, keep one principle in mind. Foods that may seem high in something undesirable may provide you with essential nutrients when consumed in moderation. For instance, potatoes largely consist of carbohydrates and can cause blood sugar spikes in large amounts, but they also contain approximately 45% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake. Labeling potatoes as “bad” and cutting them out completely means you’re missing out on a potential source of an important nutrient.
Surprisingly Healthy Foods: Olive Oil
We’re trained to view fats as “bad” and avoid them as much as possible. However, unsaturated fats are actually an essential part of a healthy diet. One excellent source of these fats is olive oil. Evidence suggests that consuming olive oil reduces your risk of heart disease and helps balance cholesterol levels in your body. Find creative ways to incorporate more olive oil into your diet and enhance your meals!
Give Your Body the Fuel It Needs
While you can survive on a poor diet, the only way to truly thrive is to focus on consuming the vitamins and minerals your body requires. Find ways to incorporate tasty, healthy foods into your diet to both expand your palate and improve your health. There’s plenty of ways to make nutrient-dense foods delicious!
Contact us to learn more about cultivating a healthy lifestyle through your food choices.