Various nutrient dense foods such as salmon and avocados on a table

5 Nutrient-Dense Foods

Medically reviewed on Aug 7, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

The foods you eat are critical in shaping overall health and well-being. Not only do they provide you with essential nutrients, energy, and sustenance, but they also have a profound impact on various aspects of your life. [1]

From influencing physical fitness and mental clarity, to affecting mood and immune function, the choices you make regarding diet can either support or undermine quality of life. [1]

This is why it’s important to include plenty of nutrient dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals into your day-to-day diet. Nutrient dense food can be rich in vitamins, fiber, iron, and more. Fortunately, we’re exploring five top nutrient dense foods below.

1. Salmon

This fatty fish is extremely potent in omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats—a type of fat that’s beneficial to heart and overall health. In addition to supporting your cardiovascular system, benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include [2]:

  • Aiding cell membranes and functions
  • Providing the body with energy
  • Fostering a healthy endocrine system, the network responsible for creating and releasing hormones

Additionally, including fatty fish in your diet can provide you with much-needed nutrients. One portion, or 100 grams, of wild Atlantic salmon contains 2.2 grams of omega-3s, as well as essential vitamins and minerals like [3]:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B-12

While farmed Atlantic salmon is a good option in terms of nutrient density, Wild Sockeye and Chinook salmon are believed to be the most nutrient-dense of the salmon. Wild Sockeye salmon is very high in protein, while the fat content in Chinook salmon is 55% higher than other types of salmon, according to a study. [4]

2. Berries

Berries are rich in antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that play a crucial role in protecting cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as ‘free radicals’. Free radicals can accumulate in the body due to factors like [5]:

  • Pollution
  • Ultra-violet (UV) radiation
  • Normal metabolic processes

When left unchecked, free radicals can contribute to oxidative stress and potentially lead to various chronic diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.5 The antioxidants found in berries, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and various phytochemicals like anthocyanins and flavonoids, help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. [6]

Furthermore, one study that observed the compounds within blueberries, lingonberries, and black currants found that both blueberries and lingonberries may have neuroprotective qualities, while black currants may improve immune health. [7]

3. Dark Green Vegetables

We all heard it growing up: “Eat your vegetables.” This bit of advice is especially important when it comes to verdant, leafy green vegetables.

These types of vegetables are packed with nutrients and are rich in [8]:

  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps to support normal vision, immune function, reproduction, and growth and development, helping your organs to function properly. [9]
  • B Vitamins – B vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamin. While they each have unique roles, they mainly help to deliver nutrients throughout the body by supporting the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids. [10]
  • Vitamin C – This water-soluble vitamin doesn’t stay long within the body, meaning you need to consume it daily to replenish your body’s stores. It supports immune health, wound healing, and collagen production, as well as the neutralization of free radicals. [11]
  • Vitamin E – Vitamin E is another antioxidant. It also helps boost immune function and support blood flow. [12]
  • Vitamin K – There are two types of K vitamins: phylloquinone and menaquinones. Phylloquinone is what you’ll find in leafy green vegetables. This vitamin helps to clot blood and support bone growth. [13]

Leafy green vegetables include spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, arugula, collard greens, bok choy, watercress, turnip greens, and mustard greens.

4. Potatoes

Potatoes are a versatile,good source of nutrient-dense food, but you won’t find the same benefits in salty potato chips or greasy French fries. Rather, potatoes are most beneficial to your nutritional health in the pure, baked forms.

The skins of potatoes are quite nutritious too, with 7.75 grams of dietary fiber in a large potato. [14] High fiber, low carb foods can help support [14]:

  • Normal bowel movements
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Healthy blood sugar levels
  • Healthy weight

And, when you dig into the nutrient-rich insides of a potato, you’ll find potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, vitamin C, and B vitamins, too. [14]

5. Eggs

Whether you’re scrambling eggs for breakfast or adding an egg to your bowl of ramen, you’re in for a nutritional treat. One egg contains 6.3 grams of protein, and eggs provide a delicious helping of fats.

One study conducted on the health benefits of egg protein also found that eggs are highly digestible and a great source of essential amino acids,[15] which help to [16]:

  • Digest food
  • Develop body tissues
  • Create hormones
  • Energize the body
  • Build muscle
  • Support immune function

Eggs are also one of the many foods high in vitamin D, which is vital for many bodily functions.

Boost Your Nutritional Intake With Everlywell

Nutrient-dense foods are an important part of a healthy diet and optimal nutrition. By including plenty of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, you can help support the function of your immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems and deliver essential vitamins and minerals throughout your body.

If your meals are less nutrient-dense than desired, consider supplementing your diet with the Everlywell Multivitamin Supplement. It includes nine essential vitamins, as well as iodine and zinc, to help supplement and encourage you towards a more balanced diet, bolster important bodily functions, and support your overall wellness.

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  1. Health benefits of eating well. NHS Inform. Published January 4, 2023. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Omega-3 Fatty Acids | Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. Published 2019. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  3. FoodData Central. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  4. Colombo SM, Mazal X. Investigation of the nutritional composition of different types of salmon available to Canadian consumers. Journal of Agriculture and Food Research. 2020;2:100056. doi:10.1016/j.jafr.2020.100056 URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  5. Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C. Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. International journal of biomedical science : IJBS. 2008;4(2):89-96. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  6. Golovinskaia O, Wang CK. Review of Functional and Pharmacological Activities of Berries. Molecules. 2021;26(13):3904. doi:10.3390/molecules26133904 URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  7. Kelly E, Vyas P, Weber J. Biochemical Properties and Neuroprotective Effects of Compounds in Various Species of Berries. Molecules. 2017;23(1):26. doi:10.3390/molecules23010026 URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  8. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables : USDA ARS. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  9. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin A. Published January 14, 2021. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  10. Harvard School of Public Health. B Vitamins. The Nutrition Source. Published June 4, 2019. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  11. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin C. The Nutrition Source. Published March 2020. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  12. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin E. The Nutrition Source. Published September 18, 2012. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  13. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin K. The Nutrition Source. Published September 18, 2012. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  14. Mayo Clinic . Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic. Published 2021. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  15. Puglisi MJ, Fernandez ML. The Health Benefits of Egg Protein. Nutrients. 2022;14(14):2904. doi:10.3390/nu14142904 URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
  16. Cleveland Clinic. Amino Acid: Benefits & Food Sources. Cleveland Clinic. Published December 22, 2021. URL. Accessed Aug 4, 2023.
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