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Nutrient Density

“Nutrient density” is an expression used by nutritional scientists and dieticians to describe foods that are high in nutrients relative to the number of calories (or energy) provided by that food. This entry discusses nutrient density and Westernized diets and the challenges to classifying foods.

Defining Nutrient Density

Some contention exists regarding the best method to define and calculate the nutrient density of a food, and no scientifically valid definition exists. In general, however, a nutrient-dense food is one that provides a significant amount of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identifies nutrient-dense foods as the following:

Nutrient-dense foods and beverages provide vitamins, minerals, and other substances that may have positive health effects, with relatively few ...

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