Nutrition: Make the Nutrient-Dense Choice

nutrientdenseSeptember is Healthy Aging Month, and it is a good time for all of us to think about how our daily habits will pay off (or hurt us) over the long term. If we want to, we can develop habits that move us toward greater happiness and better health. TMC’s Nutritionista, Laurie Ledford and Wellness Instructor, Michael Urquhart, share a few tips this month to move you in a healthier direction. Can you find a way to work a few of them into your daily life? Today’s post is all about what we consume! As you read ask yourself just how nutrient dense is your diet?

As we age, our bodies require fewer calories. Most of us lose muscle mass, our organs shrink, and we may do less (or less intense) physical activity. Therefore, we need less fuel. If we don’t cut our caloric intake, we’ll gain weight.

Also, some people experience a natural decrease in appetite as they get older, consuming fewer calories without making a conscious effort. Either way, we should try to get the most from the calories we do consume.

When you eat less food, you need to make sure the food you eat is nutrient-dense – that is, it should be full of healthful nutrients but low in calories. These foods will contain lots of vitamins, minerals and often fiber.

Examples include:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables. They are your healthiest carbohydrate foods. They provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Try to limit the amount of starchy vegetables (such as white potatoes and corn) you eat, because these are relatively high in calories.
  • Whole grains. The less processed they are, the more fiber and other nutrients they contain. So choose “whole wheat” bread and pasta instead of white bread and regular pasta. Choose brown rice instead of white rice. Try some other whole grains, such as barley, millet, amaranth and oats.
  • Lean protein foods. Choose lean cuts of beef and pork, skinless poultry and ground meats that have higher lean and lower fat content (for example, 92% lean ground beef). Fish is an excellent source of lean protein. You can also get your protein from non-animal sources, such as beans and soy products.
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Milk and yogurt provide protein, calcium and other nutrients, which are beneficial to aging bones.

Eating nutrient-dense foods means avoiding “empty calories” from things like candy, cookies, pastries, ice cream, and fried foods. Try making one or two changes each day – switching from an “empty calorie” food to a nutrient dense food from the list above – and you can eventually make it into a healthy daily habit.

Laurie and Mike are part of the Live Well team supporting members of our Tucson community make healthier choices. Check out Mary Kmak’s personal experience with Live Well here.


  1. This is ALL true. Laurie and Mike are EXCELLENT and has helped me succeed in my journey to getting healthy by taking both Wellness classes. Laurie is a GREAT nutritionist who offers the best information with food choices and suggestions. I still email her with numerous questions and she gives me the best possible changes for my food choices as my weight drops and the seasons change with new choices of fruits and veggies available. Mike is a professional personal trainer who advises you and teaches you the proper ways to exercise with great patience and understanding. Both very caring and sincerely want you to succeed with learning proper nutrition and realistic daily exercise. I was fortunate to take these classes and lose 88#s as of Sept 1st, A1C drop from pre diabetic to normal & blood pressure coming down to 1/2 pills from 1-1/2 daily. They give you the tools to succeed in the Wellness Programs which I highly suggest. They changed my life and I’ll continue my journey until I reach ALL my health goals! Thank you Laurie & Mike. 🙂
    Mary H Kmak

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