This is an important finding, as there are now more overweight people in the world than undernourished! Experts also warn that the obesity pandemic has become as big a threat to the health of the human race as global warming and bird flu!
What is “energy density”?
Energy density refers to the amount of energy (calories) per ounce/gram of food. Foods or diets that have a high energy density are therefore rich and require you to spend more time being physically active to burn them off. These foods also usually tend to be drier and contain fewer nutrients—for example, cakes, cookies, and candy.
Compared to this are nutrient-dense but low energy-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables. These have a higher water and fibre content per ounce/gram so you can eat more of them, feel full, and stop eating naturally before you overdo it on the calorie intake! So, which would fill you up more: two small cream cookies or three cups of strawberries? They have the same number of calories.
Studies indicate that people tend to eat a fairly consistent weight of foods over the course of a few days. So, choosing foods with a low energy density makes sense, as you can literally eat more but weigh less.
In the US study, the people with a high fruit and vegetable intake had the lowest energy-density values and the lowest obesity prevalence.
Five ways to eat more nutrient-dense foods
- Serve a clear vegetable soup before the main meal.
- Include a large mixed salad at main meals.
- Steam, stir-fry, or oven roast vegetables and feature these at your main meal.
- Enjoy a gourmet fruit platter, fruit compote, or tropical fruit salad for dessert.
- Choose fresh fruit, in season, for a snack when hungry.