Being “THE HEALTH GURU”, I’ve come across some pretty confusing and misleading studies on the meaning of “Nutrient Dense.” Who invented it, who is really capitalizing on it, who is profiting from it?
It seems everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of “nutrient dense” and like the food pyramid – still manages to confuse the masses! So many of us are hungry for real answers so we can spread the good news, but our appetite is insatiable.
We have mystery foods that call themselves “natural” when they’re not and the same holds true for the word “nutrient dense”. As long as the definition of “nutrient density” remains undefined, the concept of a nutritious food is all too often a matter of personal opinion.(1)
The problem with nutrient-dense foods is it lacks a common definition! Looking for creative ways to revise the food label of the U.S., the FDA created what we know as “nutrient dense” and what they think “nutrient density” is.(2)
Nutrient Dense is Rooted to the FDA
The FDA still believes a calorie is a calorie. Well today we know that calories from broccoli are not the same as calories from a candy bar. But the FDA says “as a nation, we need to rely on food labels and on the FDA Nutrition Facts Panel,” to identify and select healthier foods. The “Nutrient Density Standard” will make each calorie count more.(4) The made up term “nutrient dense” is designed to mean, rich in nutrients for the number of calories it contains.(3)
The FDA states pork, poultry and potatoes are “nutrient dense”.(5) However, if you find yourself cooking up some BBQ ribs and chicken with mashed potatoes and a side order of pesticides, are you really concerned with labels and calories?
The Term Fat-Free is Still Being Marketed
Do you still believe in fat- free calories? Fat- free, low- fat, enriched, fortified, enhanced or vitamins added are just marketing terms, used by the processed food Corporations to make us believe these have more nutritional value, when the opposite is true. The body doesn’t understand the “nutritional value” of a fake “enriched product”. Take the fat out of rBGH milk and adding in more sugar, doesn’t make it more nutritious or “nutrient dense”. The FDA suggest fat-free dairy as a “nutrient dense” food.
For decades meat and dairy ads have bombarded American consumers relentlessly.(6) These too are considered ‘nutrient dense”. Do you see a pattern here?
The Nutrient Dense List
They have analyzed the density of soy sauce with MSG, heat pasteurized evaporated milk, grain fed poultry, pork and egg whites and proceed to say whole grain breads and cereals are packed with vitamins.(10) Hmmm. Shellfish, (Bottom feeders) potatoes, liver and egg yolks claim to be “nutrient dense”.(11) But just limit the amounts of cholesterol you eat!!(12)
Adequate consumption of foods high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals is essential for a healthy immune system. However this “nutrient dense” food pyramid includes wheat/gluten, potatoes, fat- free dairy, cheese and processed foods. While GMO tofu gets an 82%.(7)
The Chemical Makeup of Food
Whether I’m beginning my day or ending it, I choose foods that are freshly grown from my garden or purchased from farmers markets. I find I can taste and smell the difference in real foods. To emphasize, these are grown without processing or kept in storage for years, chemically treated, sprayed with pesticides or hormones, drowning in fluoride residues or colors added. When consumed, these provide nutrients, energy and information that can basically keep one relatively healthy for many generations. These can be called “nutrient rich” as they instinctively know what the body can recognize, use and digest.
So if I were to ask, what is the vitamin content of a tomato, what would you say? Hint, it is more than just lycopene! Naming a few, we have Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Potassium and more. There are many factors that influence the way we enjoy a tomato, such aroma, texture, color, salt and glucose levels. Much like our skin, a tomato has epidermal cells and their signature has chambers that resemble our heart (a vascular tissue system). Just one more reason to eat them, right?
But for some reason, we can’t just seem to wrap our heads around perfection.. When a food provides all those nutrients inside and out, what is the first thing we do?
We hire Mr. Money & Mr. Doubt, and watch as they splice, dice, experiment, modify and mutilate our foods.. Their motives.. control. The results, a genetically modified tomato. But wait, the FDA said, there was no difference between the nutritional value of conventional GMO product and organic, so it’s OK.
In the U.S. there is a system in place that doesn’t respect healthy foods and this system plays tag with GMO’s.(8)
In April 2011, without sound science, the FDA moved to allow Monsanto to perform their own environmental impact study on the very GMO’s it has been responsible for developing.(9)
Are you confused yet? Simply put, the nutritional value of a food can not be measured from a food-less dead food. So there must have been a conflict of interest when the words “nutrient dense” was coined.
The Emperor Has No Cloths.
The powers that be try to convince us that there are no quality differences between a GMO conventional food and organic food. But if nutrition is measured in the same category as pesticides and chemicals, how can you believe it’s nutritional value?
I believe fragmented best describes the words “nutrient dense”. Are we embracing the world of GMO’s and Big Corps or are we understanding the importance of real organic foods that are nutrient rich? It’s sad times when honesty will never exist in marketing and/or the politics of food.(13)
Consumed with marketing magic- we have been duped into “nutrient dense”. It would be completely laughable, if it weren’t so predictable.
Connie Rogers is a Certified Holistic Health Coach. “THE HEALTH GURU” Owner of www.bitesizepieces.net and weightlossforlifechange.com She believes that whole foods are the best tools for optimal wellness. Join her in eating your way to a pain free body.
4- US Food and Drug Administration. Consumer health information for better nutrition initiative. Fed Regist 2004;May 4(24):541
5-The National Pork Board is the U.S. government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Pork_Board