What is Nutrient Density?
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.
Nutrient 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:
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.
|Collard greens, cooked||1000||Plums||158|
|Bok choi, cooked||865||Raspberries||145|
|Swiss chard, cooked||895||Orange||109|
As you can see from the list, the big winners are leafy greens, coming in at the highest rating with a score of 100. The top contenders in the fruit category are tomatoes and strawberries, followed by plums and grapes. I think this list is really interesting, and if you’re interested in using nutrient density to improve your diet, you can build your meals around these great nutrient dense foods to help boost your health and vitality.
Finally, as you may ascertain from the list above, it’s fruits and veggies that have the most bang for your buck. But, if you do eat meat, learn more about how to incorporate the rules of nutrient density with an omnivorous diet by our Holistic Nutritionist Matthew Lovitt.