Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian food pyramid is based on the principles of high nutrient eating as illustrated by his Health Equation:
Health = Nutrients / Calories (H = N / C)
Low-calorie, nutrient dense foods are at the base of the pyramid, and high-calorie, nutrient poor foods are at the top. Think of it as how much proportionally you should eat. The food at the bottom takes up the most room on the pyramid and it should be the foods you eat the most. The nutrient poor foods are at the very top, taking up the smallest amount of space on the pyramid. These foods are the ones you should eat very little of, if any at all.
Nutritional science in the last twenty years has demonstrated that colorful plant foods contain a huge assortment of protective compounds, most of which still remain unnamed. Only by eating an assortment of nutrient-rich natural foods can we access these protective compounds and prevent the common diseases that afflict Americans. Our modern, low-nutrient eating style has led to an overweight population, the majority of whom develop diseases of nutritional ignorance, causing our medical costs to spiral out of control.
The base of the pyramid – the foundation of the diet, foods consumed in the highest quantity – should be the foods with the highest ratios of nutrients to calories (highest ANDI score) – these are vegetables. Ninety percent of the daily diet should be made up of nutrient rich plant foods, whose calories are accompanied by health-promoting phytochemicals: green and other non-starchy vegetables; fresh fruits; beans and legumes; raw nuts, seeds, and avocados; starchy vegetables; and whole grains.
If desired, the remaining 10% of the diet may include minimally processed foods such as tortillas, coarsely-ground or sprouted whole grain breads or cereals, tofu, tempeh and a limited amount of animal products, preferably not more than 5 percent of total caloric intake. By keeping low nutrient foods to a minimum and striving to eat at least 90% of calories from the unrefined plant foods that comprise the base of the pyramid each day, you construct a health-promoting, disease-preventing diet. This high nutrient eating style is considered a Nutritarian™ diet.
The USDA’s pyramid bases the diet around grains, dairy, and meat, rather than vegetables – only 2-3 servings each of vegetables and fruits are recommended. Their pyramid reflects the American diet as it is – centered on animal products and processed foods rather than whole plant foods.
Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Pyramid is based on the foods that are the richest in micronutrients and have shown consistent benefits to health and longevity in scientific studies. The USDA pyramid treats these protective foods as “side dishes,” and allows the vast majority of calories to be obtained from nutrient poor foods.