Empty Calorie Foods vs. Nutrient Dense Foods

So what exactly are Empty calories? Calories that contribute to your total caloric intake but supply little or no nutritional value are defined as “empty.” Unlike nutrient-dense foods, which are foods that provide more nutrients than calories, empty-calorie foods contain more calories than nutrients. Nutrients are the components of food that we need to survive. There are six essential nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Most empty-calorie foods are highly processed foods that typically contain solid fats, or fats that are solid at room temperature, such as butter and animal fat. Examples include baked products such as cakes, cookies, pies and pastries as well as puddings, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, breaded fried burgers and ice cream. Many processed foods also contain added sugars, like high fructose corn syrup or white sugar that has been added to beverages or food. A high intake of empty-calorie foods may cause weight gain, especially if you are sedentary and consume more than is recommended. The major disadvantage of frequently consuming empty-calorie foods is that energy intake can easily exceed energy requirements. If not used for physical activity, the extra calories are stored in the body as fat, and over time, result in weight gain and obesity. To learn more about how nutrition contributes to healthy active living, read about our programs at www.foundation-chs.org.


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