How to reduce the energy density of your food

reduce energy density by adding vegetables - pictured capsicum, carrot, cucumber and chilli

How to reduce the energy density of your food

One way to dramatically increase the quality of your meals is to reduce energy density of your food. Energy density is the amount of energy per gram or per 100 grams. It is calculated by dividing the energy content of the food, by the weight of the serving of food in grams. Labels on foods in Australia provide the energy per serving and also the energy per 100 g. This helps consumers to compare the energy content of different foods in the supermarket.

Energy density of common foods

To give you an idea of the ranges of energy density in various foods – blueberries have an energy density of 2.2 kJ/g, broccoli is 1.2 kJ/g, lean raw chicken is 4.4 kJ/g, salmon is 8.9 kJ / g and butter is 30.4 kJ/g. Foods that have a higher water content, such as fruits and vegetables have a lower energy density. This is because water has an energy density of 0 kJ/g. And foods that are higher in fat have a higher energy density. Because fat has an energy density of 37 kJ/g.

Experiments where children and adults were asked to eat foods that had been covertly manipulated to have different energy densities, showed that the same amount of food was eaten. So one way to reduce the total amount of energy that a child or adult consumes over a week, is to reduce the energy density of their food. They will eat the same amount of food, but the total amount of energy will be reduced.

Methods to reduce energy density

You can do this in various ways. One way is to reduce the fat content for the same weight of food. This is possible using lower fat milk or butter in the recipe. Or using less quantities of fat in cooking. Another great way to reduce energy density is to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in the meal. By increasing the proportion of fruit and vegetables, you are increasing the water content of the food. And therefore reducing the overall energy density.

To significantly reduce the amount of energy consumed over the course of a week or month, use these two strategies. Eat more fruits and vegetables and add more fruits and vegetables to foods. Also reduce the amount of fat you use. Reducing energy density will also increase the nutritional value of your food. In most cases your food will contain higher amounts of micro nutrients as well.

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