This Is Food For Thought: The Best Nutrient-Dense Underdogs


What If I’m tired of this?

We all associate certain foods with certain nutritional benefits. Milk is associated with being a good source of calcium, bananas are associated with having lots of potassium, and salmon is thought to be the super-fish full of healthy fats and omega-3’s. So, what do we do? We look to milk for teeth and bone health, bananas for muscle cramps and soreness, and salmon for a healthier dinner option.
While there is nothing wrong with doing this, in fact looking to supplement vital nutrients through food alone is more ideal than taking pills, there are some issues that we may run into. People may have food allergies, people may be on certain diets (low carb, gluten free, vegan), and some may just get flat out bored with eating the same foods all the time.
Variety is favorable when it comes to diet. It keeps things interesting, exposes you to more nutrients, and keeps your palate happy. And luckily, certain nutrients can be found in other foods to help supplement those who avoid specific food groups like meat and dairy. So here are a couple food swaps that can be made that can keep these micronutrient intakes in check and your diet as flexible as possible!

Bump The Banana

Yes, the good-ole banana has been wearing the potassium cape for a while a now. It packs in about 420 mg per serving (100 calories), equaling out to about 12% of the daily value. But, there are so many other foods that can help get you up to your maximum daily intake, and possibly whoop the banana right out of first place.
Check out coconut water. In one cup, this stuff packs in about 600mg of potassium in just 46 calories. So, if you were to compare relative potassium amounts in caloric terms, coconut water is MUCH more potassium dense. That’d be almost 3 times as much in one 100-calorie serving of coconut water. Refreshing, huh? Other foods rich in this vital nutrient include: sweet potatoes, dark greens, avocados, and kidney beans.

Dairy-Free Calcium

Milk is often credited for being an excellent source of calcium, supplying you with about 300mg per 1 cup, which is about 30% of your Daily Value. But if you’re trying to opt for a dairy-free source of calcium, or just something different, you’re in luck. Lot’s of vegetables and fruits provide plenty of calcium. Cooked spinach contains about 240mg per cup, and broccoli contains about 180mg per cup. Even dried figs (while uncommon) can increase your daily intake, squeezing in about 300mg per cup.

Implementing These Changes

Switching up your food choices can provide many benefits: it can supply you with nutrients, help accommodate certain dietary restrictions, and keep things exciting on your plate. Some foods may even surprise you with how much more nutrient dense they are when compared to their popular counterpart. Keep your eye out for nutrition Labels, and take note on foods that seem more healthful than one’s your familiar with.



Rachel Jimenez

An Exercise Science major at USF with a love for dance, food, and sarcastic banter. Oh, and she was gluten free before it was cool. instagram: @sassycalves twitter: @itsraayy

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