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How to Tell Which Foods Deliver the Best Health Protection

December 13, 2016 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

How to Select the most Nutrient Dense Foods

The Nutritarian diet is based on eating an adequate amount of foods that have the highest nutrient density. Consuming enough foods high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals is essential for a healthy immune system and to empower your body’s detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms to protect you from cancer and other diseases.

At the center of the Nutritarian diet is a simple health equation:

Your health (H) is predicted by your nutrient intake (N) divided by your calorie intake (C).

This formula defines the nutrient density of your diet. It is the basis of nutritional science and nutritional healing and is a critical concept that Dr. Fuhrman uses in his dietary recommendations.

Food supplies both nutrients and calories (energy). All calories come from only three elements: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are noncaloric food factors, such as vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytochemicals. These noncaloric nutrients are vitally important for good health. The key to optimizing your health and achieving your ideal body weight is to eat predominantly those foods that have a relatively high proportion of nutrients to calories.

If you need to lose weight, you will find that the more nutrient dense food you consume, the more your body will gravitate to its ideal weight. You will be satisfied with fewer calories and the less you’ll crave low-nutrient, empty calorie foods.

My ANDI Scoring System Enables You to Choose Foods with the Highest Nutrient Density

How to tell which foods are most nutritious? To answer this question, and help visualize the H=N/C equation and make it practical, I created the aggregate nutrient density index, or ANDI.

The ANDI ranks many common foods on the basis of how many nutrients they deliver to your body for each calorie consumed. It also helps you visualize how nutrient dense green vegetables are and how foods compare with one another. Foods are rated on a scale of 1 to 1000.

Food labels list only a few nutrients, but ANDI’s are based on thirty-four important nutritional parameters. The ANDI is a simple way to help you identify and eat larger amounts of nutrient-rich foods. The higher the ANDI and the greater percentage of those foods in your diet, the better your health will be.

Vegetables and Fruits Earn Highest ANDI Scores

Not surprisingly, the foods that have a high ANDI score are straight from nature, primarily vegetables and fruits. In the last twenty years nutritional science has demonstrated that colorful plant foods contain a huge assortment of protective compounds.

Only by eating an assortment of these nutrient-rich natural foods can we access these protective compounds and prevent the common diseases that afflict Americans. To see how well the foods you eat rate, check out the Nutritarian Handbook and ANDI Food Scoring Guide.


Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 25 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.