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What's the deal with dense nutrition?

Sarah Wilson is a NYT best-selling author, tv host and blogger whose journalism career has spanned 20 years across TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and online.

Get dense and everything else... detoxing, fueling, dealing with sugar swings and staying slim... is taken care of.

woman eating healthy meal

Photo credit: Ruta Balciunaite/Hemera/360/Getty Images

What is dense nutrition?

It’s a phrase we’re seeing bandied about a lot these days, but what exactly is dense nutrition? Quite simply, it’s picking the food that is more nutrient-dense... whole foods, foods high in vitamins and minerals, protein, fiber and healthy fats.

I often say giving up sugar is much easier if you can fill up on nutrient-dense foods. Crowd out the "bad" stuff by filling up on the good stuff.

Quitting sugar isn't just about eliminating sugar. It's also, at its core, about taking things back to the way our grandparents ate, before the advent of metabolic disease. It's about eating whole foods and about getting as many nutrients in as possible.

Eating dense is not difficult. It’s mostly about adding to what you do, thus:

  • prioritizing (and adding extra) leafy greens and high-quality fat and protein at every meal.
  • preparing food to preserve (and maximize) enzymes and bacteria for digestion.
  • eliminating toxins and empty calories (sugar).

Get dense and everything else... detoxing, fueling, dealing with sugar swings and staying slim... is taken care of.

Dense-eating tricks

So how do I do it? I employ some clever tricks. These ideas happen to be economical, efficient and environmentally friendly too.

  • Always add fat to your vegetables so that you can properly absorb the essential vitamins A, E, D and K. I know, I’m repeating myself, but it’s an important shift to be made.
  • Ditto, always eat fat with protein. Fat is needed for proper protein assimilation. Never eat an egg white omelet and don’t pick the skin off your chicken or roast pork.
  • Prioritize your veggies. All vegetables are great, but if you want to up the ante, eat leafy greens (the most nutritious option) over other greens, over starchy vegetables.
  • Eat more protein. Our skin, bones, hair and nails are mostly made up of protein. The best sources of proteins are dairy, eggs, meat and fish; because animal protein is complete, it contains the right proportions of all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t synthesize on their own. Proteins offer the most energy per calorie intake of all foods.
  • Eat cuts of meat such as beef chuck, osso buco, pork neck and lamb shanks. They come from muscles on the animal that contain the greatest amount of connective tissue, which, when slow cooked, dissolves into gelatin. Gelatin not only aids digestion, it repairs the integrity of a damaged gut.
  • Eat chicken drumsticks. The dark meat of chicken contains more minerals than the white. And, bonus, it’s cheaper.
  • Actually, eat the whole chicken. The greatest bang comes from eating the meat as well as the carcass, boiled up as a stock. The bones, skin and giblets contain the life-giving minerals and electrolytes that make chicken broth so good for the soul.
  • Up your enzymes. Eat a spoonful of sauerkraut or other fermented products with every meal. They produce a stack of helpful enzymes, which will assist the assimilation of the nutrition in the rest of your meal.

Want to add more greens to your diet? Try some of these ideas.

For more tips and recipes from Sarah Wilson, check out her NYT best-seller I Quit Sugar.

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