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Nutrient Dense Foods

Posted Sep 14 2008 5:31pm

In my book, Wellness Piece by Piece, I write about the importance of eating foods that are nutrient dense. Vegetables, nuts,fish, fruits, even lightly cooked meats or even sushi. I also very much like raw cow or goat milk. The body CRAVES the nutrients found in healthy foods. I have always said it is better to only buy things at the grocery store from the outside aisles and never from the inside ones. You tend to find "nutrient dense" foods on the outside and "energy dense" foods on the inside. There is a world of difference. The first makes you healthy, the latter makes you sick and fat!

Here is an excerpt from a blog from the NY Times written by Michael Pollan. (I would link to it but it is one of those subscription only websites. This is one I won't pay for. Information wants to cost nothing but that is another story.)

A 2004 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Adam Drewnowski and S.E. Specter offers some devastating answers. One dollar spent in the processed food section of the supermarket — the aisles in the middle of the store — will buy you 1200 calories of cookies and snacks. That same dollar spent in the produce section on the perimeter will buy you only 250 calories of carrots. Similarly, a dollar spent in the processed food aisles will buy you 875 calories of soda but only 185 calories of fruit juice. So if you’re in the desperate position of shopping simply for calories to keep your family going, the rational move is to buy the junk. Mr. Drewnowski explains that we are driven by our evolutionary inheritance to expend as little energy as possible seeking out as much food energy as possible. So we naturally gravitate to "energy-dense foods" — high-calorie sugars and fats, which in nature are quite rare and hard to find. Sugars in nature come mostly in the form of ripe fruit and, if you’re really lucky, honey; fats come in the form of meat, the getting of which requires a great expense of energy, making them fairly rare in the diet as well. Well, the modern supermarket reverses the whole caloric calculus: the most energy-dense foods are the easiest — that is, cheapest — ones to purchase. If you want a concise explanation of obesity, and in particular why the most reliable predictor of obesity is one’s income level, there it is.

The question is, how did energy-dense foods become so much cheaper in the supermarket than they are in the state of nature? This is not a function of nature or even of the free market. It is very simply a function of government policy: our farm policies subsidize the most energy-dense and least healthy calories in the supermarket. We write checks to farmers for every bushel of corn and soy they can grow, and partly as a result they grow vast quantities of the stuff, driving down the cost of the processed foods we make from those commodities. In effect, we’re subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup. And we’re not subsidizing the growing of carrots and broccoli. Put another way, our tax dollars are the reason that the cheapest calories in the market are the least healthy ones."

So true!! We subsidize the worst foods and then wonder why we are fat and sick!!

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