Nutrient Density

Nutrient density calculates how many nutrients you are able to obtain from any given food given the number of calories that it contains.

What is the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index?

ANDI stands for the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. It’s a numerical measurement of how nutritionally-dense a food source can be.  When you look up various foods that are listed on the Nutrient Density Index (ANDI), you will see that a higher score has been assigned to foods that contain the highest amount of nutrients per calorie.  The higher the score the higher the nutritional value, with  1000 being the highest possible score, 0 being the lowest.

This food index was developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman of Eat Right America in order to give some clear examples of how nutrient-rich certain foods can be compared to others.  To accomplish this list he analyzed various foods for the nutrient criteria that is listed below and then ranked them accordingly:

■ Calcium & Magnesium
■ Carotenoids (beta carotene, alpha carotene, lutein & zeaxanthin)
■ Lycopene
■ Soluble & Insoluble Fiber
■ B vitamins & Folate
■ Iron
■ Zinc & Selenium
■ Vitamin C
■ Vitamin E (including tocopherols and tocotrienols)
■ ORAC score (antioxidant power)

The top ten foods that our bodies will get the most nutrients from per calorie are Kale, Collard Greens, Watercress, Bok Choy, Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Swiss Chard, Arugula, Mustard Greens, and Parsley.  You would have to eat 20 bowls of oatmeal in order to equal just one bowl of Kale. So the same amount of nutrients in 20 bowls of oatmeal with a high amount of calories and carbohydrates (sugar) equals the same nutrient density as a bowl of kale with a very very small amount of calories.

nutrient dense food pyramid

The Nutrient Dense Food Pyramid

Perhaps you can recall the old food pyramid that we had in place for many years that featured  6-11 servings of bread, cereals pasta and grains serving as its base. These are  some of the most nutrient-depleted foods that only served to fatten us up while at the same time causing systemic inflammation of the body.  This “new” food pyramid has the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods as the most significant portion of your diet. These are the foods we should all eating to help prevent chronic disease and promote overall good health.

A lecture by Dr Joel Fuhrman


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