Maximize your food dollars

Farm Forum

As prices for food continue to increase, it’s important that you spend your hard earned dollars on foods which will provide you with the nutrients for optimum health. In many instances nutrient dense foods will cost no more than those high in fat, sodium and sugars.

Nutrient density is referred to as a food having a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients as compared to the overall calories. A food which has a low nutrient density will have few, if any nutrients and a significant amount of calories.

Selecting nutrient dense foods is critical to obtain the broad scope of vitamins, minerals and fiber needed on a daily basis for growth and repair of bodily tissues, and maintenance of your immune system. If you have a diet with a good selection and variety nutrient dense foods, you often will not need a vitamin or other supplement. Vitamins and supplements may replace some nutrients, but they will not contain micro-nutrients which are present in foods and often act as catalysts for major nutrient absorption. For example, a fine tuned motor does not run well if the timing system is off sync.

It’s often stressed children and teens get nutrient dense foods; but it’s just important as you age. The recommended level of nutrients you need for growth and repair of bodily tissues and your immune system really does not decline with age. But, your calorie expenditure often decreases with age and your body is not as efficient at absorbing some nutrients; so it is just as important that you have a good selection of nutrient dense food.

Nutrient dense foods include:

· Whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods.

· Vibrantly colored vegetables.

· Brightly colored fruits and 100% fruit juice.

· Fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt.

· Lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts.

When shopping for these foods, select whole foods or those which have little added fat, sugar and sodium by referring to the nutrition facts label. For example, avoid the purchased French fries and make fries at home by cutting fresh potatoes; spray lightly with oil and season with a non-sodium season blend and bake. Also, note the amount of sodium and fat in some convenience frozen entrŽes. With some basic meal planning and preparing foods at home you can often limit the added fat, sodium and sugar while ensuring you are getting the most nutrients for the dollar spent.