Snack smarts: Raise your nutrition IQ (nutrient density)

Updated on Oct 13, 2022 03:38 PM IST

According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, two out of every three people have heard of nutrient density but aren't sure what it is. Here's all you need to know about snack smarts and how to raise your nutrition IQ (nutrient density)

Snack smarts: Raise your nutrition IQ (nutrient density)(Raizza Videña)
Snack smarts: Raise your nutrition IQ (nutrient density)(Raizza Videña)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Raising nutrition IQ is vital to making smart food choices and healthy eating habits but very few people know what the term refers to. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, two out of every three people have heard of nutrient density but aren't sure what it is.

Although the concept of nutrient density is relatively simple to understand it can be confusing so let’s provide an analogy. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, - Nadiya Merchant, Nutrition Lead at Kellogg South Asia, shared, “Snacks are an essential part of one’s diet. The term “snack” makes many think of fried, salted or sweet options but snacking, when done right, can become an important part of one’s daily routine and lifestyle."

She revealed, "Eating right sized portion at the right time to compliment the main meal can actually play an important role in providing energy and nutrients to an individual. A bowl of seasonal fruits, handful of nuts or perhaps, a bowl of multigrain cereal with fresh fruits and curd, could be some nutrient dense snacking options that can be adopted regularly.”

Echoing the same, Babita Hazarika, Chief Dietician at Apollo Multispeciality Hospitals in Kolkata, said, “Snacking is important and definitely a healthy snack is of utmost importance. Having food at frequent intervals always adds an advantage for children and also for elderly people especially those who are diabetic. Having three equal meals with three tiny snacks in between is always an advantage. These snacks need to be good, good in terms of being loaded with nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats and definitely with colourful fruits and vegetables to add to the minerals and vitamins.”

Kent Bradley, MD, MBA, MPH – Chief Health and Nutrition Officer at Herbalife, explained, “A city is more dense if it has more people per square mile. Kolkata has a high population density of nearly 22,000 people per square kilometre. The average population density in India is closer to 464 people per square kilometer. Nutrients are like people in this example, the denser the nutrients the more nutrients are present per calorie. Calories tell you the amount of energy in the food you eat but not its nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals along with the essential amino acids and fats required for your daily diet.”

He suggested, "Think of foods that have a high ratio of essential nutrients per calorie, as there are many foods choices that provide calories only from sugar and saturated fat and have no other noteworthy nutritional benefits. When making choices, think beyond calories and, instead, think also about the nutrient density and choose foods with high amounts of essential and important nutrients like protein, vitamin A, D, calcium and fibre.”

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