Virtually all weight loss plans endorsed by public health organizations across the country adhere to the same basic principle that we established for ourselves in the creation of the World's Healthiest Foods. That principle is that of nutrient density. Nutrient density is one critical component of long term weight management, regardless of who you are, how much weight you have to lose, or what foods you like to eat.
The term nutrient density refers the concept of getting the most nutritionally for the least caloric expenditure. In other words, nutrient dense foods give you the "biggest bang for the buck." You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn't cost you much in terms of calories.
Nutrient density also happens to be the exact principle we used when we rated all of 127 foods found on this website. They give you the most nutrients you can possibly get for the calories you spend.
To more clearly illustrate nutrient density, let's use an example. Let's say you're low on vitamin E, and decide to eat a food that is not nutrient dense, such as white bread. This slice of run-of-the-mill white bread will give you about 1/10th of a milligram of vitamin E and will cost you about 200 calories (the number of calories in a slice of many white breads). Now let's compare these values to those in a slice of 100% whole wheat bread.
Whole grain products, like most whole foods, are nutrient dense. A slice of 100% whole wheat bread will usually cost you slightly less in calories (perhaps 175 instead of 200); the reason for this is that many manufacturers will assume that consumers buying 100% whole wheat products will also want fewer additives, sweeteners, or added fat in their foods; this often translates into a food with fewer calories.
Now even if the calories were the same in both types of bread, the nutrient density of the two foods would still greatly differ because their vitamin E content is dramatically different. Unlike white bread where you only get 1/10th of a milligram of vitamin E in exchange for your 175-200 calories, with 100% whole grain bread, you get over 1.16 milligrams - over ten times as much. To look at this example another way, you would have to eat more than ten slices of run-of-the-mill white bread to get the same amount of vitamin E as is found in one slice of 100% whole wheat bread. The extra 9 slices will cost you about 1,800 calories.
It is clear from this one example how getting your nutrients from nutrient dense foods is clearly the way to go when it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. Why? Because in this example, eating nutrient dense foods like the World's Healthiest Foods saves you about 1,800 calories! 1,800 calories is about one whole day's worth of food.
At the World's Healthiest Foods we also focus on simple, fresh, whole organic foods. Our recipes contain the whole foods themselves and very little else - no fillers, fillings, added sugars, or added fats. Whatever is found in our foods has to be there. Nature put it there because it was essential to the life of the plant. Nothing is contained in a fresh, whole organic food that doesn't need to be there.
For this reason whole, fresh organic foods are custom tailored to weight management - they bring you what's essential and they leave out everything that's unnecessary. Losing weight always has this exact same component. Even when you are losing weight, you can't stay healthy unless you eat. But when you are trying to lose weight, it doesn't make sense to eat things you don't need. Unnecessary food will just bring in unnecessary calories. Bringing in unnecessary calories is exactly what we don't do at the World's Healthiest Foods. Because fresh vegetables and fruits are especially helpful for getting a maximum number of nutrients and a minimal number of calories, increasing your vegetable and fruit intake can help you stay healthy and protect you from weight gain even if you make no other changes in your diet. But from a practical standpoint, you won't be as successful in your weight management as you want to be unless you stay focused on all food groups and your overall diet balance. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have shown that these principles—more vegetables and fruits and focus on the overall diet—really work. In their 6-year study, women who included more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods in their diet were able to eat a 17% larger volume of food while taking in 6% fewer calories. After eating freely over the entire 6-year period, they gained 60% less weight than women who ate a larger amount of foods like meats, sweets, and refined grains that provided more calories and fewer nutrients in every bite.
We also predict that your relationship with food is likely to change once you begin to incorporate more of the World's Healthiest Foods in your meal plans. You may find yourself amazed that meals so low in calories, and so simple in ingredients, and devoid of extra sugar, salt, and fat, can be so pleasurable to eat! When you are trying to lose weight, it helps to feel non-deprived.
Explore the many recipes featured on our website; they were all designed to leave you feeling fully satisfied and delighted. Not only are they filled with lots of taste and flavor but they are visually and sensually appealing as well. And, as they are nutrient dense, they provide you with lots of nutrients for relatively not too many calories. Our tasty and nutrient dense recipes are an example of why this style of eating, with a focus on the World's Healthiest Foods, makes sense for anyone trying to lose weight.
Buijsse B, Feskens EJM, Schulze MB et al. Fruit and vegetable intakes and subsequent changes in body weight in European populations: results from the project on Diet, Obesity, and Genes (DiOGenes). Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90(1):202-209.
Savage JS, Marini M, Birch LL et al. Dietary energy density predicts women's weight change over 6 y. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Bethesda: Sep 1, 2008. Vol. 88, Iss. 3; pg. 677-684.