What is Nutrient Density?

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.

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:
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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 182
Mustard greens 1000 Pomegranates 119
Watercress 1000 Tomato 186
Collard greens, cooked 1000 Plums 158
Bok choi, cooked 865 Raspberries 145
Spinach 707 Blueberries 130
Swiss chard, cooked 895 Orange 109
Brussels sprouts 490 Grapefruit 102
Broccoli Rabe 455 Bananas 30
Arugula 604  Grapes  119
Carrots 458  Cantaloupe  118
Cauliflower 315  Apple juice  11
Bell pepper 265  Avocado  28
Cabbage 434  Pineapple  54
Romaine lettuce 510  Apple  53
Broccoli 340  Orange  98

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.


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About Andrea Bertoli 597 Articles
A vegan chef, cookbook author, wellness educator, writer, surfer, and yogi based in Honolulu. Follow my delicious adventures on Instagram

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