Posts Tagged ‘food label’

What are nutrients?

Posted: January 14, 2014 in What is ... ?
Tags: , ,
Photo Credit: Gualberto107 via

Photo Credit: Gualberto107 via

By Shelly Najjar

“Nutritious,” “nutrient-rich,” and “nutrient-dense” are words used often in the media and by health experts. But what do they mean?

What are nutrients?

Here are two slightly different explanations of what nutrients are:

There are six categories of nutrients:

  • water, carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (these are all called macronutrients, because we need to eat relatively large amounts of them)
  • vitamins and minerals (these are both called micronutrients because we need to eat very small amounts of these)

Buzz-word Dictionary

Nutrient-dense: “the relative ratio of nutrients in a food in comparison to total calories” (Source: Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food*)
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Nutrient-rich: the same as nutrient-dense

Nutritious: provides nutrients (Source: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary); “Foods that contain high levels of nutrients are more nutritious than foods that do not.” (Source: Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food*)
(*I get commissions for purchases made through this link)

How do you know if a food has nutrients in it?

For packaged foods, you can read the food label.

For foods without packages, you can look up foods on sites like SuperTracker or CalorieKing.

You can also eat healthier and get more nutrients by following these suggestions:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats, and other protein sources like seafood
  • Limit added sugars, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), refined grains, and alcohol

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You may also be interested in reading…

Shelly Najjar, MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and wellness coach at Confident Nutrition. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@ShellyNajjar), and LinkedIn.

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