Nutrient Dense Foods 101
Top Nutrient Dense Foods and Where To Find Them
From white corn to pink ladies to iceberg lettuce, as a society we have been systematically removing vital nutrients from our foods in favor of sweeter and higher yielding crops. Common knowledge generally tells us that we should eat greener, darker vegetables and fruits, and we’ve heard that kale is nutrient dense, but what exactly should we be choosing at the grocery store or when eating out?
Nutrients are compounds that encourage growth in living organisms. We’re talking about the biologically active ingredients that help sustain life including phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that can’t be derived from supplements. To demonstrate:
Our Favorite Nutrient Dense Foods
Here are 7 of our favorite nutrient dense foods. There are options here that you may have been overlooking — when was the last time you tried liver or natto? If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck (calories), take a look at some of the example foods and restaurant dishes below (taken from a database of the some of the best Los Angeles restaurants).
- eggs w/ yolk are high in fat-soluble vitamins, choline, folate, selenium, lecithin, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- sea vegetables such as nori, kelp, dulse, algae, spirulina, and chlorella are high in minerals, iodine, magnesium, manganese, iron and trace minerals.
- organ meats/liver are a great source of fat soluble vitamins and many nutrients (note: if you’re trying to ease into the taste of organ meats start out with heart and tongue and slowly transition the tastebuds to the more pungent liver and kidneys).
- bone broth is rumored to heal the digestive tract, ameliorate joint pain, and enhance sleep.
- shellfish such as oysters and mussels are extremely nutrient dense and provide a ton of daily vitamin B12 needs (lack of which is a concern on vegan diets). They also contain a huge dose of vitamin A, vitamin E, copper, selenium, zinc, and of course essential fatty acids.
- natto or fermented soybean is high in vitamin K2 (helps bone clotting and building bones).
- dark colored fruit, vegetables, or starches such as blueberries, raspberries, purple grapes, purple cabbage, kale, tomatoes, dark carrots, yams, and taro have polyphenols and bioactive compounds.
polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals, reduce inflammation and slow the growth of tumors (although overstated, this is the reason they say that red wine is good for your health). Here is a list of the top 100.
Eating Out? Here’s Some Example Dishes
With that said, We’ve compiled a list of specific dishes in the greater Los Angeles area.
notation: (v=vegan, veg=vegetarian, gf=gluten free) // (Restaurant-Name)
- Tofu Ramen in Brazil Nut Broth with wheat noodles, kale, and nori (v) // Âu Lac LA
- Whole Avocado with wasabi nori, radish and miso tahini (v) // Plant Food and Wine
- Cucumber With Basil has ranch, celery leaves, nori and salted kombu (which forms the base of the Japanese kombucha, a kombu kelp tea) (veg) // P.Y.T
- Tuna Tartar with pickled chili, ginger and nori powder (gf) // Areal Restaurant
- Rad Thai with kelp noodles, seasoned vegetables, teriyaki sauce (veg) // Wild Living Food
- The aptly named “Superfoods” dish — a spirulina broth with tomato, macadamia cream, onion, ginger and chlorella (v) // Âu Lac LA
- Chicken Liver Mousse with kolrabi strawberry relish // Rose Cafe Restaurant
- Organic Chicken Liver Mousse with sangria gelee, pickled strawberries & strawberry tartare // Farmshop
- Smoked Chicken Liver Patée with preserved lemon and herb salad // Bestia
- Grilled Thick-cut Prime Beef Tongue // Kinjiro
- Chicken Jook, an organic rice porridge made from chicken bone broth, tamari glazed chicken, sauteed Asian greens and scallions // Eko Eats
- Spaghetti Alla Chitarra “Campofilane” Ai Frutti Di Mare, a spaghetti with clams, mussels, and shrimp in a sweet pepper sauce // Valentino
- Mussels Tikka — green lip mussels, cilantro and grilled flatbread (oyster hour menu) // Herringbone
- Oysters Ceviche Style // Blue Plate Oysterette
- Southern Soul Food, a red beans and dirty rice dish with blackened jerk tempeh, maple yams, collard greens, vegan cheddar biscuit (v) // Cafe Gratitude Venice
- Liquid A.B.S., apples, pears, celery, and yams (v) // Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
- Black Evolution Salad, low calorie yam noodles, tempeh, arugula, kale, bean sprouts and more goodies (v) // Shojin
- Asap Yams Juice, yams, carrots, fuji apples, green apples, cinnamon, nutmeg (v) // Wild Living Foods
- Mediterranean Burger, which uses a sweet potato and falafel patty, comes with Israeli salad, hummus, cabbage and tahini (v) // Fala Bar
Dark & Leafy Greens
- Fala Me to Glow has romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, an Israeli salad, carrot, bell pepper, and sprouts in an avocado basil dressing (gf) // Fala Bar
- Dynamite roll has red cabbage, cashew cheese, tomato, avocado, ginger, red onion, coco jerky, ranch hemp and flax oil (gf) // Wild Living Foods
- The Keenwow Wrap has quinoa, red cabbage slaw, cucumber, tomato, romaine, avocado, artichoke tapenade, sriracha on a sprouted multigrain tortilla (gf) // Locali Venice
Nutrient density is important, but if something is nutrient dense and your body can’t digest it then what’s the point? We’ll talk about digestibility in another post.
If you liked this post, please recommend it by clicking on the heart button below! Engage in the comments to let us know what you liked (or hated) about this post, and if you want to find food tailored to your lifestyle check out The Edible Project on iOS and Android.