What is Nutrient Density?

Nutrient Density


Nutrient density refers to foods providing substantial amounts of micronutrients and minerals relative to the calories they contain. Nutrient dense foods offer greater nutritional value per calorie.


  • Focusing on nutrient density promotes adequate vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake without excessive calories.
  • Nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats are anti-inflammatory and support health.
  • Processed foods tend to be nutrient-poor despite containing calories and carbs. Limit nutrient dense processed options like juices.
  • When in a caloric deficit, emphasize nutrient density even more to prevent deficiencies from reduced intake.


  • Grilled salmon and broccoli vs. a fast food burger and fries meal.
  • Kale salad with chickpeas instead of a sugary snack bar.

Related Terms

  • Empty calories, nutrition density, micronutrients, macronutrients

Common Questions

  • How do I determine nutrient density? Compare nutrition labels and choose options higher in vitamins, minerals, and fiber per calorie.
  • Is nutrient density only for dieting? No, it should be a core focus for overall health at any calorie intake level.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Calorie density – The number of calories relative to weight or volume alone.
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