Nutrient-Dense Recipe Round-Up (2024)

Many factors contribute to our modern health problems, including sedentary lifestyles, stress, and insufficient sleep (seeThe Benefits of Gentle Movement,How Stress Undermines Health, andSleep and Disease Risk: Scarier than Zombies!). Yet, micronutrient deficiency is increasingly showing up as a major underlying problem with chronic disease, see also The Importance of Nutrient Density. Many of us think that nutrient deficiencies are mainly a problem in developing nations, but while the Standard American Diet is definitely energy-rich, it’s also nutrient-poor: the types of food that many people eat each day are high in added sugars, refined grains, and industrially processed oils, while also being stripped of the vitamins and minerals (and other health-promoting compounds) found in whole foods. The result is a high prevalence of nutrient deficiency right in our own backyard.

Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
  • The Prevalence of Nutrient Deficiencies
  • The Relevance to Covid-19
  • How to Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
  • 17 Nutrient-Dense Recipes to Get You Started
  • Liver Pâté
  • 50/50/50 Burgers
  • Hidden Liver Meatloaf
  • Moroccan-Inspired Lamb (Heart) Stew
  • Steak and Kidney Pie
  • Bone Broth
  • Seafood Leek Soup
  • Salmon Tourtiere (meat pie)
  • Truffle Salt and Thyme Broiled Salmon with Dill Caper Sauce
  • Avocado Mango Seaweed Salad+
  • Shrimp, Avocado, Mango and Fennel Salad
  • Fig and Pistachio Salad
  • Citrus, Fig, and Walnut Salad
  • Root Vegetable Casserole
  • Braised Kale, Three Ways[/col][col]
  • Collagen Veggie Blend Molten Lava Cake
  • Spinach Brownies Revisited

The Prevalence of Nutrient Deficiencies

An analysis of dietary nutrition not including supplements (but including fortified foods) compared to recommended daily allowance from the data collected by the USDA Agricultural Research Service revealed that large percentages of Americans are falling short on thirteen essential vitamins and minerals. In this analysis, a whopping 73% of Americans over the age of two are not getting enough zinc, 65% aren’t getting enough calcium, 61% are falling short on magnesium, 56% aren’t getting enough vitamin A, and 53% aren’t getting enough vitamin B6. And roughly a quarter to a third of us aren’t consuming enough B vitamins or vitamin C. See also7 Nutrients You’re Probably Deficient In,5 Nutrients You’re Deficient In… If You Eat Too Much Sugar, andEssential Nutrient Deficiency and Autoimmune Disease.

Micronutrient deficiencies are so common that some researchers speculate that nearly all of us are deficient in at least one vital nutrient.

Percentage of Individuals Over Age 2 Not Meeting 100% of RDA
NutrientValue (%)
Vitamin B1217.2
Vitamin B325.9
Vitamin B230.0
Vitamin B130.2
Vitamin B9 (folate)33.2
Vitamin C37.5
Vitamin B653.6
Vitamin A56.2

Source: Analysis of USDA Agricultural Research Service data presented in Cordain, L., et al. “Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81, no. 2 (2005): 341–354.

We should keep in mind that these percentages are averages. When we group people based on age, race/ethnicity, and various lifestyle factors, certain groups have higher deficiency rates than others. For example, the CDC’s Second Nutrition Report found that menstruating women are more likely to be iron deficient, non-Hispanic blacks are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, and women ages 20 to 39 are more likely to be iodine deficient. This also doesn’t take into account how, for example, different diet and lifestyle factors can increase our nutrient needs and render our intakes insufficient even when we appear to be meeting the Recommended Daily Allowances. For instance, a high intake of fructose or glucose can increase our requirements for calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, chromium, and vitamin D, see5 Nutrients You’re Deficient In… If You Eat Too Much Sugar

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The Relevance to Covid-19

Those nutrients for which insufficiency and deficiency are the most prevalent—especially vitamin A, vitamin D, and zinc—are some of the most important for immune function. This is relevant from both chronic disease and infectious disease standpoints. In fact, as discussed in detail in , deficiency in these essential nutrients increases susceptibility to infection (data compiled form influenza, common cold, and respiratory infections). However, targeted supplementation doesn’t necessarily dramatically increase resilience to infection, with the notable exception of Vitamin D. Instead, we can look at this research as a whole to realize the importance of dietary nutrients, and to emphasize consumption of sufficient and synergistic quantities of all nutrients from whole food sources via a dietary focus on nutrient-dense foods.

How to Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet

So, here’s where Paleo comes to the rescue! The Paleo Diet offers far more nutrition than nearly any other diet (seeGluten-Free Diets Can Be Healthy for Kids). And we’re not just talking in comparison to the Standard American Diet, either. Other popular diets (the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, and the DASH diet) have been evaluated and shown to be nutritionally inadequate, while Paleo, on the other hand, has the potential to supply ample amounts of all important micronutrients, due to its focus on whole foods, food diversity, food quality, loads of veggies, and nose-to-tail eating. But, there’s a catch: in order to achieve dietary nutrient sufficiency, meaning that we get all of the nutrients we need from the foods we eat, we still need to up our nutrient game. The standard Paleo diet often falls short in several vital nutrients, including biotin, calcium and chromium.

When we consider the foods richest in micronutrients, certain foods come up again and again as powerhouses of nutrition, especially: liver and other organ meat; seafood (especially shellfish, but also fatty fish); brightly pigmented fruit; and vegetables of all kinds, but notably leafy greens, vegetables from the cruciferous family (which includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale), root vegetables, fresh herbs, fermented vegetables, and mushrooms (see also Elevating Mushrooms to Food Group Status, Why Root Veggies Are Great for the Gut Microbiome). One of the best things you can do to ensure that your diet is abounding with micronutrients is to eat these foods liberally, even considering each of these as their own food groups, trying to hit as many food groups as possible every day.

17 Nutrient-Dense Recipes to Get You Started

Achieving nutrient-sufficiency requires an additional focus on incorporating more of the nutrient powerhouses readily available to us, even within the already highly nutrient-dense Paleo template. This means focusing on organ meats, shellfish, brightly pigmented fruit, sea vegetables, fatty fish, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, fermented veggies, and fibrous roots whenever possible.

Here are 17 recipes that will help you fill your plates with the most nutrient-dense Paleo foods…

Liver Pâté

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An easy-to-use and flexible weekly checklist
to help you maximize nutrient-density.

The Weekly Serving Matrix is very helpful! I’ve been eating along these lines but this really helps me know where to focus vs. which foods serve a more secondary role. It’s super helpful and has taken a lot of worry out of my meal planning. Thanks!


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50/50/50 Burgers

Hidden Liver Meatloaf

Moroccan-Inspired Lamb (Heart) Stew

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Steak and Kidney Pie

Bone Broth

Seafood Leek Soup

Salmon Tourtiere (meat pie)

Truffle Salt and Thyme Broiled Salmon with Dill Caper Sauce

Avocado Mango Seaweed Salad

Shrimp, Avocado, Mango and Fennel Salad

Fig and Pistachio Salad

Citrus, Fig, and Walnut Salad

Root Vegetable Casserole

Braised Kale, Three Ways

Collagen Veggie Blend Molten Lava Cake

Spinach Brownies Revisited

Nutrient-Dense Recipe Round-Up (2024)


What is a nutrient-dense food responses? ›

Food that is high in nutrients but relatively low in calories. Nutrient-dense foods contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

What are 3 examples of nutrient-dense foods? ›

Nutrient-dense foods give you more nutrients per bite and tend to be less calorie dense. Sources of nutrient-dense foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and many whole grains, such as kale, garlic, salmon and blueberries.

What is a nutrient-dense food quizlet? ›

Nutrient-dense-foods contain lots of vitamins and minerals relative to the number of calories. At the same time, nutrient-dense foods are low in saturate fat, trans fat, added sugar, and salt.

Which is the most nutrient-dense food choice? ›

Some of the most nutritious foods you can eat are oily fish, eggs, avocados, potatoes, and green leafy vegetables. However, no food provides all the nutrients we need, so it's essential to have a varied diet that includes plenty of fresh ingredients and is as little processed as possible.

What makes a food nutrient-dense? ›

In order to be nutrient-dense, a food must be relatively rich in nutrients per the number of calories it contains. On the other hand, something that lacks nutrient density may be referred to as “empty calories.” Everything we eat provides information directly to our body.

How do you know if a meal is nutrient-dense? ›

Nutrient-dense foods often are lower in calories compared to other foods with fewer nutrients. For example, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, beans, seeds and certain oils are all considered nutrient dense. They include one or more of nutrients including: Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K.

What 2 foods can you survive on? ›

Grains and legumes constitute the cornerstone of any survival diet. They are essential for providing sustainable energy and nutrients in challenging situations. They are packed with essential nutrients and can be stored for long periods, making them ideal for survival food storage.

What are nutrient dense foods to eat everyday? ›

Try to eat a variety of foods to get different vitamins and minerals. Foods that naturally are nutrient-rich include fruits and vegetables. Lean meats, fish, whole grains, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds also are high in nutrients.

What is one example of a nutrient-dense food? ›

Examples of nutrient-dense foods include legumes and nuts, which are an excellent source of protein for those following vegetarian or vegan diets. Quinoa and sweet potato also provide plenty of nutrients for their calorie count and can be healthful alternatives to white bread or rice as a source of carbohydrate.

Is an example of a food that is considered energy and nutrient-dense? ›

Examples of Energy- and Nutrient-Dense Foods:

Whole milk. Full-fat cheeses. Creamed soups. Pudding and Pies.

What are components of a nutrient-dense diet quizlet? ›

nutrient-dense = vegetables, fruits, high-fiber whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, soy products, nuts, seeds, oils.

What is the number 1 unhealthiest food in the world? ›

According to the American Heart Association, the most unhealthy food includes highly processed foods, just as processed snacks or junk food. These are replete with empty calories and low in nutrition. The refined flours, sodium and sugar in these foods make them the most unhealthy food in the world.

What is the one food you can survive on? ›

The only food which comes close to being something you could survive on long term as a sole ingredient is the potato. The fact that the potato has Vitamin C means that scurvy is not a risk like it would be with almost any other food source lacking in this nutrient.

What is the most complete meal? ›

The most complete meal is a meal that contains all of the food groups in appropriate proportions. For example, a balanced breakfast might include whole-grain cereal, fruit, milk, and eggs. A balanced lunch might consist of vegetables, protein, and whole grains.

What is nutrient density in food? ›

The nutrient density of foods refers to the relative amount of nutrients per calories and is estimated by nutrient profiling methods (we'll explore them below).

What does nutrient-dense mean dictionary? ›

[ noo-tree-uhnt-dens ] show ipa. adjective. (of food) relatively rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained: A potato is a nutrient-dense carbohydrate.

What are calorie dense foods? ›

Examples of calorie-dense food include:
  • Highly processed foods, which have been stripped of their nutrients and have had fat, sugar, and/or salt added to them.
  • Sugar.
  • Butter.
  • White bread.
  • Processed meats, such as bacon, hot dogs, deli meat, and sausage.
  • Cakes, pies, and doughnuts.
  • Cookies.
  • Candy.
Mar 30, 2023

What are nutrient-dense foods for recovery? ›

And they're delicious.
  • Berries. Antioxidants are a powerhouse of nutrition that help the body repair damage. ...
  • Vegetables. ...
  • Fats (nuts, oils, fish) ...
  • Dark Leafy Greens. ...
  • Meat or Other Alternatives. ...
  • Eggs. ...
  • Probiotics. ...
  • Brightly colored fruits.

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