Welcome to the blog of Food For Nutrition, a company that provides nutrition services to clients in the Greater Boston area.
Our mission is to help you achieve and maintain healthy eating habits so you can live better, feel better, and do more of what matters to you. We’re here to make sure that your daily food choices are backed by science-based strategies that will help you reach your goals.
Food For Nutrition
Choose a diet made of nutrient-rich foods. Nutrient-rich (or nutrient-dense) foods are low in sugar, sodium, starches, and bad fats. They contain a lot of vitamins and minerals and few calories. Your body needs vitamins and minerals, known as micronutrients. They nourish your body and help keep you healthy. They can reduce your risk for chronic diseases. Getting them through food ensures your body can absorb them properly.
Try to eat a variety of foods to get different vitamins and minerals. Foods that naturally are nutrient-rich include fruits and vegetables. Lean meats, fish, whole grains, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds also are high in nutrients.
Path to improved health
You may not get all the micronutrients your body needs. Americans tend to eat foods that are high in calories and low in micronutrients. These foods often also contain added sugar, sodium (salt), and saturated or trans fats. This type of diet contributes to weight gain. It can increase your risk of health issues, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), American adults may not get enough of the following micronutrients.
|Calcium||Nonfat and low-fat dairy, dairy substitutes, broccoli, dark, leafy greens, and sardines|
|Potassium||Bananas, cantaloupe, raisins, nuts, fish, and spinach and other dark greens|
|Fiber||Legumes (dried beans and peas), whole-grain foods and brans, seeds, apples, strawberries, carrots, raspberries, and colorful fruit and vegetables|
|Magnesium||Spinach, black beans, peas, and almonds|
|Vitamin A||Eggs, milk, carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe|
|Vitamin C||Oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, broccoli, and red and green bell peppers|
|Vitamin E||Avocados, nuts, seeds, whole-grain foods, and spinach and other dark leafy greens|
All of the above foods are good choices. Below are suggestions for changing your diet to be more nutrient-rich.
Whole-grain foods are low in fat. They’re also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. This helps you feel full longer and prevents overeating. Check the ingredient list for the word “whole.” For example, “whole wheat flour” or “whole oat flour.” Look for products that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Some enriched flours have fiber but are not nutrient-rich.
Choose these foods:
- Rolled or steel cut oats
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Whole-wheat tortillas
- Whole-grain (wheat or rye) crackers, breads, and rolls
- Brown or wild rice
- Barley, quinoa, buckwheat, whole corn, and cracked wheat
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables naturally are low in fat. They add nutrients, flavor, and variety to your diet. Look for colorful fruits and vegetables, especially orange and dark green.
Choose these foods:
- Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens, such as chard, cabbage, romaine, and bok choy
- Dark, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale
- Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, and pumpkin
- Snap peas, green beans, bell peppers, and asparagus
- Apples, plums, mangos, papaya, pineapple, and bananas
- Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, pomegranates, and grapes
- Citrus fruits, such as grapefruits and oranges
- Peaches, pears, and melons
- Tomatoes and avocados
Meat, poultry, fish, and beans
Beef, pork, veal, and lamb
Choose low-fat, lean cuts of meat. Look for the words “round,” “loin,” or “leg” in their names. Trim outside fat before cooking. Trim any inside, separable fat before eating. Baking, broiling, and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare these meats. Limit how often you eat beef, pork, veal, and lamb. Even lean cuts contain more fat and cholesterol compared to other protein sources.
Chicken breasts are a good cut of poultry. They are low in fat and high in protein. Remove skin and outside fat before cooking. Baking, broiling, grilling, and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare poultry.
Fresh fish and shellfish should be damp and clear in color. They should smell clean and have a firm, springy flesh. If fresh fish isn’t available, choose frozen or low-salt canned fish. Wild-caught oily fish are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Poaching, steaming, baking, and broiling are the healthiest ways to prepare fish.
Beans and other non-meat sources
Non-meat sources of protein also can be nutrient-rich. Try a serving of beans, peanut butter, other nuts, or seeds.
Choose these foods:
- Lean cuts of beef, pork, veal, and lamb
- Turkey bacon
- Ground chicken or turkey
- Wild-caught salmon and other oily fish
- Haddock and other white fish
- Wild-caught tuna (canned or fresh)
- Shrimp, mussels, scallops, and lobster (without added fat)
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Seeds and nuts, including nut butters
Dairy and dairy substitutes
Choose skim milk, low-fat milk, or enriched milk substitutes. Try replacing cream with evaporated skim milk in recipes and coffee. Choose low-fat or fat-free cheeses.
Choose these foods:
- Low-fat, skim, nut, or enriched milk, like soy or rice
- Skim ricotta cheese in place of cream cheese
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- String cheese
- Plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream
Things to consider
Most nutrient-rich foods are found in the perimeter (outer circle) of the grocery store. The amount of nutrient-rich foods you should eat depends on your daily calorie needs. USDA’s website ChooseMyPlate.gov offers nutrition information for adults and children.
10 importance of food and nutrition
You’re going about your day and then feel that familiar rumbling in your stomach. Hunger. All living things need to eat, though what they eat varies significantly. Humans eat a huge variety of food that depends on income, culture, access, and personal preferences. When you eat a meal or a snack, how much do you think about it? Do you know where your food comes from? Or why it’s so important? Here are ten reasons:
#1. We need food to live
Without food, humans can only live so long. We need proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. When these aren’t consumed, the body starts to use its own tissue for fuel. While it’s very difficult to study starvation using traditional experiments because of ethical concerns, there is some data on its effects. It seems like a healthy male around 154 pounds should have enough calories stored in his body to live between 1-3 months. When researchers examine hunger strikes, however, people have died after 45-61 days. Many factors affect how long it takes someone to starve to death, but it’s clear that we need food or eventually we die.
#2. What we eat matters
Many studies support the idea that what we eat affects our health. Diets with nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and whole grains lead to better health outcomes, including a lower risk of chronic disease and even certain cancers. In the 1990s, about 20,000 women in a study cut back on fatty foods (like red meat) and added more plant-based foods. After twenty years, researchers found that women who followed these guidelines had a 21% lower risk of death from breast cancer than those who didn’t change their diet.
#3. Preparing food has an impact on mental health
We know food affects your physical health, but even the simple act of preparing it matters. Studies show that cooking and baking can increase a person’s confidence, concentration, and happiness. The rationale is that cooking is a creative pursuit, and like other creative pursuits, it serves to reduce stress and boost a person’s mood.
#4. Many people have a complicated relationship with food
A person’s relationship to food matters. For many, food can be a source of significant stress and trauma. Research shows that eating disorders have the highest death rate among all mental illnesses. In most studies, anorexia is the deadliest. Even if someone doesn’t have a diagnosed condition, their relationship to food can disrupt their life. Orthorexia, which was first coined in 1996, is the fixation on a food’s “cleanliness” or “purity.” This can bloom into a disorder or cause other health problems like a lack of calories or inadequate nutrition. If you believe you might be suffering from an eating disorder, please contact a health professional or reach out to an organization like NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Helpline in the United States.
#5. Food insecurity is a major issue
In 2020, between 520-811 million people struggled with hunger. This represents an increase. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN), the world is not doing well when it comes to ending hunger or ensuring safe food access. There are a few reasons why, including slowing economies, conflict, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Food is a basic need and a basic right. Without reliable access to healthy foods, people suffer.
#6. Many livelihoods are tied to food
Many people earn their living in careers related to food. Agriculture is a big one, though data shows it’s been decreasing over time. In 1991, 44% of the world’s population worked in agriculture. In 2018, the number was down to 28%. That’s still significant, and agriculture isn’t the only field that involves food. Supply chain work, food safety, food science, and the restaurant industry all revolve around food.
#7. Climate change is affecting food
The connection between food and climate is difficult to exaggerate. Even though fewer people work in agriculture, that’s still how all our food is produced. Scientists may be experimenting with lab-grown food, but we’re not even close to producing enough to feed everyone. Climate change threatens food production. Some estimates say that global crop yields could go down by 30% by 2050. People already struggling with food insecurity would suffer the most.
#8. Food is culture
Food and culture have a vital link that’s both emotional and practical. In many ways, different cultures were built around the food that was available to them. For people who leave their cultural environments, preparing and eating food from their place of origin keeps them connected. They also share it with others and it blends into the cultural landscape.
#9. Food is political
Food is as political as it is cultural. Consider food deserts. These are places where healthy, affordable food is harder to access. People have to travel inconvenient distances to reach grocery stores. Who ends up living in food deserts is deeply political. In the United States, a person’s race and income status have a big impact on if they live in a food desert or not. The problem isn’t limited to a lack of grocery stores, either. In one study from 2001, researchers found that the density of fast-food restaurants in New Orleans was higher in poorer areas. Mostly Black neighborhoods had 2.5 fast-food outlets per square mile, as opposed to the 1.5 in white areas.
#10. Food tells the story of humanity
If you’re interested in learning about history and humanity, you can learn a lot by looking at the history of food. For millennia, humans have cultivated and intervened with food evolution. We’ve been eating apples for 10,000 years, but most of the fruit from the early eras were tiny and hard. It seems like the first “modern” apples were cultivated along the Silk Road. Intentionally or not, seeds hybridized and created new forms of apples. If you look at other examples of early fruits and vegetables, they’re hard to recognize. How food changed and spread reveals a lot about our story as humans.