Nutrient-Dense Foods Are the Key to Good Health

Many people focus on eating organic foods to stay healthy. Nutrient-dense foods are vital to ensure long term health and freedom from disease.

  • "The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food" by Steve Solomon is a practical, step-by-step guide to growing produce of the highest nutritional quality.
    Cover Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • A typical “black house” of the Isle of Lewis derives its name from the smoke of the peat burned for heat. The native Gaelic fisher folk use native food and have excellent teeth.
    Photo Courtesy Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation,

Centuries of agriculture have depleted our soils causing the nutrient-density of fruits, grains and vegetables to decline dramatically, but the health of effects of eating foods that are not nutrient dense are widely misunderstood. This excerpt from The Intelligent Gardener (New Society Publishers, 2012) by Steve Solomon explains nutrient-density and the role it plays in achieving better health for you and your family.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Achieving a nutrient dense diet involves perfecting three things. First: some entire food classes are more nutrient dense than others; we need to avoid foods with little intrinsic nutritional content. Second: some batches or lots of the same kind of food can be far more nutrient dense than others. These differences can be due to genetics, but usually have more to do with the soil on which the foods were grown and sometimes at what stage of maturity they were harvested. Finally, some foods have been devitalized, that is, processed so as to reduce their nutrient content. White flour and refined vegetable oils are two glaring examples.

Different productions of the same type of crop can vary greatly in nutritional quality. The same variety of wheat can have very different protein levels depending on the soil and, to a lesser degree, according to the amount of rainfall that year. Some varieties of same kind of vegetable have far higher levels of vitamins and minerals. So, the same is not really the same.

Another class of differences in nutrient-density is between types of food. This conversation is sometimes termed “making healthy choices.” For example, wheat usually is far more nutrient dense than rice. In fact, rice is probably the least nutritious of the major cereals, especially white rice. So if it were possible to choose between rice and some other grain, it might be wise to avoid rice.

I distinguish between nutrition and fuel. We benefit from almost unlimited quantities of nutrition, but excesses of fuel burden the body and become deposits of fat. Both fatty foods and sugary ones are highly concentrated forms of energy that carry little or nothing in the way of minerals, vitamins or enzymes. Even raw honey, the best natural sweetener, has barely enough minerals and enzymes in it to justify its consumption; for sure, cane sugar does not. It contains nothing but energy.

11/6/2013 10:58:51 PM

The cat study referred to tries to apply an old scientific study by Dr. Pottenger in 1930 inappropriately. The study compared feeding generations of cats with cooked food and with raw food. It certainly cannot be used to talk about genetic diseases in humans. According to Wikipedia, "At the time of Pottenger's Study the amino acid taurine had been discovered but had not yet been identified as an essential amino acid for cats. Today many cats thrive on a cooked meat diet where taurine has been added after cooking. The deficient diets lacked sufficient taurine to allow the cats to properly form protein structures and resulted in the health effects observed." It is understood today that genetic disorders are not cured with diet, nutrient dense or not.

11/6/2013 1:55:08 PM

Nonsense. Many words,little actual information or verifiable content. And a completely illogical & unscientific conclusion: " Every healthy community Price visited — which included humans of every color, shape and hair texture, who had many types of lifestyles and ate many types of diets — was found to be composed of good-natured, honest, responsible people possessed of an innate spiritual awareness that did not require regular church attendance to awaken. Their women did not fear childbirth, did not suffer much during it and rarely died from it. And the reason for their health: nutrient-dense foods." Not even a definition of WHAT nutrient dense foods are or how to find them. Buy the book? No.

10/11/2013 1:12:17 AM

This is a nice little introduction to the importance of traditional diets, and I was going to share it via various social media--until I got to the end and read the totally unnecessary and bigoted slap at regular church attenders.



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