The Nutrient Density Debate
Are We Being Deceived On Food Guidelines?
I read an interesting report from Dr. Klitz on nutrient density recently. He mentioned that the CDC calculates the nutrient density of food with a high score signifying that these food contains more beneficial nutrients compared to calories. But are we being told the truth?
Unfortunately that means high-calorie foods such as protein and fat are eliminated from their list. Why is this important? Because eliminating fat and protein means that only fruits and vegetables make it on the CDC list of "powerhouse" foods. In other words, this is a backwards way of saying a vegetarian/vegan diet is the most nutrient dense diet, which is ludicrous because there are nutrients that are either difficult or impossible to get in adequate amounts from plant foods alone. That’s why vegetarians/vegans supplement their diet to maintain health or physical performance.
Here are 7 nutrients commonly lacking in vegetarian and vegan diets.
Vitamin B12 - an essential nutrient almost exclusively found in animal-sourced foods, such as fish, meat, dairy products, and eggs. It’s a water-soluble nutrient involved in developing red blood cells and maintaining nerves and normal brain function.
Creatine - a molecule found in animal foods. Most of it is stored in your muscles but significant amounts are also concentrated in your brain. It functions as an easily accessible energy reserve for muscle cells, giving them greater strength and endurance.
Carnosine is an antioxidant that’s concentrated in the muscles and brain of humans and animals. Found only in animal based foods, it’s important for muscle function, reduced muscle fatigue and improved performance.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient with many important functions. Also called the sunshine vitamin, it is best sourced from sunlight. However, due to where you live or how you work, that doesn’t always work out. Then include fatty fish and egg yolks, supplements, or cod liver oil.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) - an essential omega-3 fatty acid that’s important for normal brain development and function. Deficiency in DHA can have adverse effects on mental health and brain function. It’s mainly found in fatty fish, fish oil, and certain types of microalgae.
Heme iron - a type of iron found only in meat, especially red meat. It’s much better absorbed than non-heme iron, commonly found in plant foods. For this reason, vegetarians and vegans — especially females and people on raw food diets — are more prone to anemia than meat eaters.
Taurine - a sulfur compound found in various body tissues, including your brain, heart, and kidneys. Taurine appears to play a role in muscle function, bile salt formation, and antioxidant defenses and is found only in animal-sourced foods, such as fish, seafood, meat, poultry, and dairy products.
Dr. Klitz mentions a more realistic list of the most nutrient dense superfoods on earth:
The chart below illustrates how a small selection of animal products offers an array of nutrients.
Because of an anti-meat trend in mainstream dietary guidelines, meat is often overlooked when people think of nourishing, nutrient-dense foods. Yet the reality is that meat is the most nutrient-dense food on earth. Include them to avoid missing out on vital health benefits.