Chapter 1. Introduction to Nutrition
One measurement of food quality is the amount of nutrients it contains relative to the amount of energy it provides. High-quality foods are nutrient dense, meaning they contain significant amounts of one or more essential nutrients relative to the amount of calories they provide. Nutrient-dense foods are the opposite of “empty-calorie” foods such as carbonated sugary soft drinks, which provide many calories and very little, if any, other nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods are foods that give the highest amount of nutrients for the least amount of energy (or kilocalories). Food quality is additionally associated with its taste, texture, appearance, microbial content, and how much consumers like it.
Food: A Better Source of Nutrients than Supplements
It is better to get all your micronutrients from the foods you eat as opposed to from supplements. Supplements contain only what is listed on the label, but foods contain many more macronutrients, micronutrients, and other chemicals, like antioxidants, that benefit health. There is no consistent evidence that supplements are better than food in promoting health and preventing disease.