Nutrient Density - More Nutrition Per Dollar!
Nutrient density is one of the ways to measure how good a food is when it comes to providing optimum health. Nutrient density is paramount when it comes to getting the most value from your food. The best way to understand it is to use terms in economics—value and cost. In foods, the value is the benefits you can derive from eating it. These include the nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, macronutrients and others. On the other hand, cost (calories) is the “price” you have to pay in order to reap these benefits. A nutrient dense food has a high ratio of nutrient to calorie.
Most raw foods are nutrient dense. In fact, one of the ways for you to maintain this nutrient quality of foods is by consuming it raw. People usually cook foods in oil and add additional high calorie ingredients. Cooking, not only reduces the nutrients in foods but it also increase the calorie count. To illustrate my point, read the following information from Nutritiondata.com.
100 grams of raw spinach has this nutritional information.
Calories 23, Fat 0, Carbohydrates 4 grams, Fiber 2 grams, Protein 3 grams, Vitamin A 188% Daily Value (DV), Vitamin C 47% DV, Iron 15% DV, and Sodium 79 mg or 3% DV.
The good: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Niacin and Zinc, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Contrast this with The Budget Gourmet's Spinach Au Gratin. Of course they have to add potato and cheese, otherwise who would eat it. But let us see what the combination of adding the other ingredients and processing did to the nutritional values. Again let us review the nutritional data for a 100 gram serving size.
Calories 143, Fat 11 grams, Saturated Fat (the bad stuff) 5 grams, Carbohydrates 7 grams, Fiber 1 gram, Vitamin A 91% DV, Vitamin C 29% DV, Iron 7% DV, and Sodium 422 mg 18% DV
The good: This food is a good source of Calcium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
The bad: This food is high in Saturated Fat and Sodium.
So, as you can clearly see, more of the bad stuff and less of the good stuff. Raw is clearly better when it comes to spinach! And I can confidently say the same for other vegetables that can be eaten raw.