High Energy Density VS Low Energy Density

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Energy density is the amount of energy, as represented by the number of calories, in a specific weight of food. Energy-dense foods have a large number of calories per serving.

A cup of grapes has about 100 calories and a cup of raisins has about 400 calories. So we say that raisins are more energy dense than grapes. A tablespoon of butter has about 100 calories while a tablespoon of light cream cheese has only 30 calories, so butter is more energy dense than the cream cheese.

Energy density is determined by the proportion of macro nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates), fiber and water. Fiber and water have zero calories, so foods that contain larger amounts of fiber or water have lower energy density. Fat has about nine calories per gram, so typically food that's high in fat is also energy-dense.

 

Energy-dense foods include sweets, deep-fried foods, french fries, pasta, starchy vegetables, thick sauces, cheese, nuts, and seeds. Not all energy-dense foods are bad for you, but you need to watch your portion size when you eat them.

Some foods, like soups and beverages, can have high or low energy density. Broth-based soups with vegetables typically have low energy density while creamed soups are energy-dense. Non-fat milk is less energy-dense than regular milk, and diet soda is less energy-dense than a sugary soft drink.
 

Foods with low energy density include high-fiber green and colorful vegetables. Watery foods like whole fruits tend to be less energy-dense, as well. Low-calorie diet foods also often have a low energy density, but not always, so it's important to read nutrition facts labels so you know how many calories you getting every day.
 

The beneficial part that I find about foods with low energy density is that they are nutrient-dense, which means they have a lot of nutrients per serving size. Many types of fruits, berries, and vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber and contain lots of vitamins and minerals.

Another advantage of low energy density foods is that when you fill up on those, you'll feel satisfied while you take in fewer calories. If you eat mostly energy-dense foods, you'll need a larger volume of food to fill you up, and as a result, you'll take in more calories. That's not good if you want to lose weight, but it may be helpful if you're trying to gain weight.

Plan all your meals so they include foods with low energy density that are also high in nutrients. At least half of your plate should be covered with low-calorie fruits and vegetables. Leave a quarter of your plate for your protein source, and the remaining quarter can hold a serving of starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, or rice. 

Children who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to eat fewer highly energy-dense foods. If you have children who are picky eaters, keep serving them veggies. Sooner or later, they will find some attraction towards fruits and vegetables and make healthy food choices in the future. 



References:

  • Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger.
  • http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/low-energy-density-foods-list-11010.html

 

Yi Zhang