The density of the foods that you eat will have a major impact on the way that the food affects your health. There are a number of reasons for this, but it is generally due to the difference in the timing and the process by which your body breaks those foods down.
Generally speaking, denser foods take longer to break down. They may help to keep you feeling full for longer, as they require more work on the part of your body. These foods are also generally lower in total calories than foods that are less dense. The result is that you’ll be left requiring less food in order to feel satiated, and that you’ll also cut back on the total number of calories that you eat.
Nutrient Density in Foods
When people speak about food density, they typically are referring to nutrient density. Nutrient density is the quantity of vital nutritional ingredients in a particular food. Generally, the greater the nutrient density in a particular food item, the better it will be for you. It will provide you a richer mixture of important elements for your health and will also require more work on the part of your body to break down and spread those elements throughout your body.
Benefits of Dense Foods
Dense foods which contain a wide mixture of different vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients are more likely to remain in your system for longer. They require additional work on the part of your body in order to break them down, and they provide a wider mixture of benefits, depending upon the exact array of nutritional elements contained therein. In a comparison between an apple and a donut, for instance, the two items are comparable in many ways. The donut is actually heavier in calories than the apple is, typically by about 3 to 4 times. However, the sugars in the donut are metabolized quickly by the body, providing a short burst of energy that leaves you feeeling hungry again in a quicker amount of time. On the other hand, the apple has fewer calories but contains a mixture of other vitamins and nutrients that are not found in the donut. Your body processes these nutrients, keeping you feeling full off of an item that had fewer calories and for a longer period of time.
Monitoring Food Density
The exact food density of a particular item is difficult to quantify. It’s perhaps better to think about the types of nutrients that are contained in any food, and the total amount of those nutrients as compared with the caloric intake of the food. Generally speaking, the best foods in terms of food density are those that provide you with many nutrients and healthy ingredients while simultaneously requiring that your body work harder to process those nutrients, thus keeping you activated and full over a longer period.