News & Reviews what is nutrient density

Published on September 16th, 2012 | by Andrea Bertoli


andi- aggregate nutrient density index… and my health!

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Have you heard about nutrient density? It’s a great way to learn how to value our foods and help us build a better diet.

what is nutrient densityNutrient density is measured using the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index Scores (ANDI), which can help you determine which foods are high in nutrient density and which are low– in other words, which foods give you the most bang for your buck. Dr. Fuhrman is one of the biggest proponents of ANDI scores, saying the most Americans do not have a good understanding of the true nutritional value of our food. Why is nutrient density important? Here’s what Dr. Fuhrman has to say:
plant heart images

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. 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.

ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive range of food factors, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidant capacities, based on an equal number of calories for each food. Here is an abbreviated list from the longer one found on Dr. Fuhrman’s site. This table shows the most nutrient dense vegetables and the most nutrient dense fruits. For additional ANDI information click the link above.

Veggies! Fruits!
Kale 1000 Strawberries 212
Mustard greens 1000 Pomegranates 199
Watercress 1000 Tomato 164
Collard greens, cooked 1000 Plums 158
Bok choi, cooked 824 Raspberries 145
Spinach 707 Blueberries 130
Spinach, cooked 697 Orange 109
Brussels sprouts 672 Grapefruit 102
Swiss chard, cooked 895
Arugula 604
Carrots 458
Brussels sprouts 490
bell pepper 265
Cabbage 420
Romaine lettuce 389
Broccoli 376

I love that my favorite veggies are top on the list (well, I usually eschew mustard greens); and I also love that these high-scoring veggies end up on my plate everyday. Though I was not at all surprised to see all leafy greens at the top of the list; I was most surprised to see radishes and romaine so high on the list, and broccoli so low.  Broccoli is in the same big family (brassica) as collards, kale, bok choi, so it seems that it would be much higher (maybe the yummy broccoli leaves would score higher than the heads..?).  Unfortunately, many of the high scoring fruits are absent from my diet, since they are hard to obtain locally. But bananas, mangoes, pineapples and citrus- which I have plenty of here in Hawaii- are not on the list!

Here’s a funny aside: while doing the research for this post I found Eat Right America’s home page, which offered a little survey to see how healthy I am…. so let’s check it out:

First question: I’d be happier if i could… (can I just be happy AS I AM..?)

– look and feel more youthful
– safely lose weight and keep it off
– improve my overall health
– have more energy
– reverse effects of my chronic illness
– get off my medications

Well, since I am a healthy young lady, how about ‘have more energy;’ cause we could all use that, right…?

Second question: I am 30 years old, and at 5’4 and 115 pounds, how much weight do I want to lose. Hmm, how about zero?

Third question: What medical problems do you have? (not, DO you have medical problems… it just assumes we all have chronic issues…).

– diabetes
– heart
– arthritis
– hypertension
– digestive issues
– headaches
– autoimmune disease
– none of the above…. CHECK

fourth question: Do I have any children under 18 (don’t think so…)

fifth question: How many servings of meat, fish, dairy, veggies, fruit, nuts, beans, processed things, do you eat everyday? After tabulation, the following pie chart is my result! They say, “Congratulations! We urge you to continue your efforts and look ahead to further refinements to your dietary habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle and live a long and active life”.  But guess what? Because I said Iwanted to have more energy, they can sell me a NUTRITION PRESCRIPTION FOR ONLY $149.95!

Standard American Diet (blue is processed, greens is fruits and veggies, red is meat and dairy)

My diet (are all my baked goods making me blue?  haha)

vegetable drawings from Shutterstock

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About the Author

Vegetarian chef, educator, blogger, and yogi based on the gathering isle of Oahu. Follow her foodie adventures at Vibrant Wellness Journal, Vibrant Wellness Education, Green Living Ideas and Green UPGRADER. Find more from Andrea on Facebook, , Instagram and Twitter.

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