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ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index)

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is made up mostly of disease-causing foods, with 30 % of calories from animal products and over 55 % from processed foods.1 In addition, 43% of Americans polled reported that they drank at least one sugar-sweetened drink each day, 40% said that they eat ‘pretty much everything’ that they want, and 33% of overweight and obese individuals reported that they were at a healthy weight. Lifestyle-related diseases are the most common causes of death, but according to a 2011 poll by Consumer Reports Health, 90% Americans believe that they eat a healthy diet. 2

This highlights the nutritional misinformation that abounds in our society. Most Americans do not understand that whole plant foods are the best for our health – they are led to believe that processed foods labeled “low-fat” or “low-carb,” artificially sweetened beverages, pasta, grilled chicken, and olive oil make up a healthful diet. Americans have not yet grasped the concept of nutrient density.

H = N/C (Health = Nutrients / Calories)

This simple equation defines how your health is related to the nutrient density of your diet.

Adequate consumption of micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, and many other phytochemicals—without excessive caloric intake, is the key to achieving excellent health. The nutrient density in your body’s tissues is proportional to the nutrient density of your diet. Micronutrients fuel proper functioning of the immune system and enable the detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from chronic diseases. I coined the term, nutritarian to define  a diet style which provides a high ratio of micronutrients per calorie and a high level of micronutrient variety.

To illustrate which foods have the highest nutrient-per-calorie density, I created the aggregate nutrient density index, or ANDI. It lets you quickly see which foods are the most health-promoting and nutrient dense. This index is currently being used at Whole Foods Market grocery stores to help customers make healthier food purchases.

The ANDI ranks the nutrient value of many common foods on the basis of how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed. Unlike food labels which list only a few nutrients, ANDI scores are based on thirty-four important nutritional parameters. Foods are ranked on a scale of 1-1000 with the most nutrient-dense cruciferous leafy green vegetables scoring 1000. Because phytochemicals are largely unnamed and unmeasured, these ANDI rankings may underestimate the healthful properties of colorful, natural, plant foods, so the nutrient density of natural whole foods may be even higher than ANDI scores indicate.

The ANDI demonstrates the nutritional power of green vegetables, especially compared to processed foods and animal products. Even though attention should be placed on these nutrient rich foods, it is also important to achieve micronutrient diversity, and eat a adequate assortment of lower ranked plant foods to obtain the full range of human requirements. I recommend people consume mostly foods that have an ANDI score greater than 100. Take a minute to evaluate the quality of your current diet and learn which foods you need to consume more of to improve it. A more comprehensive list of ANDI scores can be found in my Nutritarian Handbook and ANDI Food Scoring Guide.

Dr. Fuhrman's Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI)

Sample Nutrient/Calorie Density Scores

Kale

1000

 

Sunflower Seeds

64

Collard Greens

1000

 

Kidney Beans

64

Mustard Greens

1000

 

Green Peas

63

Watercress

1000

 

Cherries

55

Swiss Chard

895

 

Pineapple

54

Bok Choy

865

 

Apple

53

Spinach

707

 

Mango

53

Arugula

604

 

Peanut Butter

51

Romaine

510

 

Corn

45

Brussels Sprouts

490

  Pistachio Nuts 37

Carrots

458

 

Oatmeal

36

Broccoli Rabe

455

 

Shrimp

36

Cabbage

434

 

Salmon

34

Broccoli

340

 

Eggs

31

Cauliflower

315

 

Milk, 1%

31

Bell Peppers

265

 

Walnuts

30

Asparagus

205

 

Bananas

30

Mushrooms

238

 

Whole Wheat Bread

30

Tomato

186

 

Almonds

28

Strawberries

182

 

Avocado

28

Sweet Potato

181

 

Brown Rice

28

Zucchini

164

 

White Potato

28

Artichoke

145

 

Low Fat Plain Yogurt

28

Blueberries

132

  Cashews 27

Iceburg Lettuce

127

 

Chicken Breast

24

Grapes

119

 

Ground Beef, 85% lean

21

Pomegranates

119

 

Feta Cheese

20

Cantaloupe

118

 

White Bread

17

Onions

109

 

White Pasta

16

Flax Seeds

103

 

French Fries

12

Orange

98

 

Cheddar Cheese

11

Edamame

98

 

Apple Juice

11

Cucumber

87

 

Olive Oil

10

Tofu

82

 

Vanilla Ice Cream

9

Sesame Seeds

74

 

Corn Chips

7

Lentils

72

 

Cola

1

Peaches

65

     

 

Nutrient Scoring Method*
To determine the ANDI scores, an equal-calorie serving of each food was evaluated. The following nutrients were included in the evaluation: fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, vitamin A, beta carotene, alpha carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, choline, vitamin K, phytosterols, glucosinolates, angiogenesis inhibitors, organosulfides, aromatase inhibitors, resistant starch, resveratrol plus ORAC score. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a measure of the antioxidant or radical scavenging capacity of a food. For consistency, nutrient quantities were converted from their typical measurement conventions (mg, mcg, IU) to a percentage of their Dietary Reference Intake (DRI). For nutrients that have no DRI, goals were established based on available research and current understanding of the benefits of these factors. To make it easier to compare foods, the raw point totals were converted (multiplied by the same number) so that the highest ranking foods (leafy green vegetables) received a score of 1000, and the other foods received lower scores accordingly.

Nutritarian Handbook &ANDI  Food Scoring Guide Photo
Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Handbook & ANDI Food Scoring Guide:

  • A concise instructional guide to the Nutritarian diet
  • A comprehensive list of ANDI scores ranks foods according to
    micronutrients per calorie, guiding you toward the best food choices
  • Side-by-side nutritional analysis of SAD and Nutritarian meals
  • New recipes and menu plans

 


References:

1. USDA, Economic Research Service. Food availability (per capita) data system. http/www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-(per capita)-data-system.aspx#.Ud8A6UG1GCk.
Lin B-H, Yen ST. The U.S. grain consumption landscape: who eats grain, in what form, where and how much. USDA Economic Research Service, Economic Research Report No. 50; November 2007; http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/216648/err50_1_.pdf.
2. Americans Falsely Believe Their Diet is Healthy. 2011. Discovery News. http://news.discovery.com/human/americans-diet-weight-110104.html. Accessed May, 2014.

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