"Exercise is beneficial and I highly recommend it. But a lack of exercise is not the primary reason for weight problems and exercise can never take the place of a healthful diet."
--Neal Barnard, M.D., founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
How much of the food you eat is considered to be nutrient dense? The term “nutrient dense” indicates how much bang for the buck you get with what you eat and drink.
Think about my favorite food groups: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Nutrient density is a given with these groups, with some foods falling heavier on the scale than others. Take cauliflower, in the cruciferous vegetable family (i.e., cauliflower, broccoli or "little trees", collards, cabbage, and arugula). It is a nutritional powerhouse, high in Vitamin C and K, high in dietary fiber (about 12 grams of fiber per head), high in potassium, with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. We should all enjoy a little cauliflower (or other cruciferous vegetables) every day.
When I go grocery shopping, I sometimes peak into others’ grocery carts, especially when kids are tagging along. I spy cereal boxes filled with added sugars, food dyes, and empty calories. I spy packages of meat and chicken (no dietary fiber in anything from an animal but full of saturated fat, the kind of fat that contributes to heart disease). I spy highly processed foods such as Pop Tarts with a gazillion ingredients and no nutritional value. Those “foods” are not nutrient dense and contribute to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Foods that are highly processed and loaded with added sugars, salt, and fat should be avoided or rarely consumed. The other day my lunch was Mediterranean pasta salad with Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and yellow bell peppers, with a simple red wine-olive oil vinaigrette. So good and good for you!
What you eat can kill you or heal you. Make every bite count. Turn up your relationship with real food and make most of what you eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Leave processed foods in the store and enjoy real food and healthy meals with your children!
With love and kindness,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder and Wellness Architect