A note from our EIC: This story originally ran in 2013 while Dr. Fuhrman was one of our monthly Guest Editors. Over the years, I have referred to the idea of “nutrient density” over and over, using it as a reference for a diet that is focused, not on deprivation, but on packing our plates with as many nutrient dense foods as possible. Here’s the ANDI Score System to get you started and Dr. Furhman’s incredible book to dive even further.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s system for rating the nutrient density of all foods is a can’t-miss reference for anyone looking to get the best quality foods into their bodies. ANDI stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index” and learning how to navigate it can transform your approach to eating.
This index measures foods for a wide-array of nutritional qualities and rates them on a scale from 1 – 1000. Foods with perfect scores include a few foods you’d expect like kale and spinach – but did you know watercress and boy choy are also high-ranked superstars? The lowest end of the spectrum includes regular suspects like white bread and pasta – foods that calorie-for-calorie provide little that the body requires for robust health.
Dr. Fuhrman considers himself a “nutritarian” – an idea we love. According to Fuhrman, “Adequate consumption of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and many other phytochemicals – without overeating on calories, is the key to achieving excellent health. Micronutrients fuel proper functioning of the immune system and enable the detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from chronic diseases. A nutritarian is someone whose food choices reflect a high ratio of micronutrients per calorie and a high level of micronutrient variety.”
Check out our version of Dr Fuhrman’s ANDI score system chart above to give you a jumpstart on the foods you should be getting more of and which foods to start eating less of! We love referencing high-ANDI score foods to inspire our eating plans. For more on the ANDI Score System grab a copy of Dr. Fuhrman’s classic book, then check out a few of his favorite food groups here.