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Why is Nutrient Density Important for the Foods We Eat?

Why Is Nutrient Density Important for the Foods We Eat?

If you read our blog regularly, you’ll notice that we often mention “nutrient density” in our posts (like, A LOT.) Well, that’s because nutrient density is really important. Most of the food available to us today is much less nutrient dense than the food that was available to previous generations, although it’s more easily accessible. As a result, our society is both overfed and undernourished. While there is no shortage of food choices available at the average supermarket, the nutrition obtained from this food is sometimes debatable. For example, produce is often grown in nutrient-depleted soil and picked before the peak of freshness in order to keep a constant selection available on supermarket shelves. Similarly, animals such as poultry are raised quickly and in conditions that are conducive to fast production of meat but not as conducive to the health and wellness of the birds. The chickens suffer, and so does the nutrient density of their meat.

Our commitment to nutrient density is one of the things that really sets Pasturebird apart. We’ll talk more about the nutrient density of Pasturebird further on in this post, but first we’ll explain a little bit about nutrient density and why it is important for the foods we eat.

What is Nutrient Density?

The American Heart Association sums up nutrient density as follows:

The basic concept of nutrient density is the amount of nutrients you get for the calories consumed.

What does that mean exactly? When you’re comparing two different food choices, take a look at the calories on the nutritional label, but also take a look at how much of the recommended daily value of nutrients that that particular food contains. If each food choice contains 100 calories, but one contains a significantly higher percentage of vitamins and nutrients, that option is more nutrient dense. For example, comparing processed white bread to homemade bread made with sprouted whole grains - each slice may be similar in calories, but the unprocessed, sprouted whole grain bread is going to be much more nutrient dense. 

Why Nutrient Density is Important for the Foods We Eat

The truth is, food just isn’t what it used to be. Modern farming practices, soil erosion, the use of synthetic fertilizers, and the neglect of the importance of the soil biome have rendered crops and livestock less nutrient dense than the crops grown and animals raised as recently as the last century or so. Pair that with a less nutritious standard American diet, and our bodies are generally just not receiving the nutrition that was common in the past. Even though food availability is more diverse and accessible than ever, the quality of that food just doesn’t compare to that grown and raised when almost every farm used regenerative agriculture practices and livestock and poultry were almost always grass fed and/or pasture raised. As a result, our health has suffered.

One of the easiest ways for us to become healthier is to be more conscious of what we consume. The price we pay for the convenience of “fast” food is poor nutrition - but it’s possible to make a few easy changes in our diet to improve our overall nutrition and health.

Adding more nutrient dense foods to your diet can be as simple as eating brown rice rather than white rice, sprouted grain bread rather than white bread, or replacing sour cream with Greek yogurt as a topping for your meals. If you follow a paleo diet, you’re likely abstaining from many processed foods and grains and obtaining lots of nutrient density from a diet rich in healthy fats, protein, fruits, and vegetables. But did you know that there is also a difference in the nutrient density of meat and poultry, depending on how it’s raised??

Why Pasture Raised Chicken is More Nutrient Dense Than Conventional Chicken

By allowing our chickens constant access to the outdoors and the ability to forage as chickens were meant to do, they feed on a steady diet of insects, worms, bugs, and grasses that their barn-raised or conventionally-raised counterparts just don’t have access to. We also supplement this natural diet with a non-GMO, high quality chicken feed, to make sure our chickens are meeting all of their nutritional needs. Because our chickens are raised with such a nutrient-dense diet during their lifetime, their meat is also full of nutrients. As we’ve mentioned in other posts, animals who were fed a nutrient scarce or unvaried diet during their lifetime are not going to be as robust and healthy as an animal who was well fed with access to a varied and nutritious diet, and in turn their meat will lack those nutrients as well. 

Pasture raised chicken contains 50% more vitamin A, D, and E than conventionally raised chicken, and these vitamins are crucial for a number of processes in the body, such as forming healthy teeth, bones, and skin (Vitamin A), boosting the immune system (Vitamin D), and both protecting cells from damage and repairing damaged cells (Vitamin E). 

Pasture raised chicken also has 3 times the omega-3s of “regular” chicken. These essential fatty acids improve brain and heart health, and have been shown to help fight issues such as depression, anxiety, and age-related cognitive decline as well as lowering overall inflammation in the body.

Many people nowadays make up for the lack of nutrition in our food by popping pricey supplements and multivitamins - but not only is obtaining these nutrients from real food sources better for you, it’s likely less expensive than obtaining a cupboard full of expensive pills that your body may or may not break down enough to really benefit you. 

Obtaining your nutrition from actual food also gives you the added benefit of the fiber, phytochemicals, and trace nutrients that aren’t replicated in supplements. We’re not knocking all supplements, but in truth, supplements are meant to supplement a nutrient dense diet, not replace it. Our goal should be to eat as wholesome as possible, and obtain as much of our nutrition from nutrient dense foods rather than processed supplements. 

Eating pasture raised chicken, healthy fats, and fresh vegetables is an easy way to improve the nutrient density of your diet and as a result, improve your overall health. 

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