How should you decide what to eat? You could try to figure out the nutritional value of every food yourself, but that would be time-consuming and complicated. OR you could use the ANDI score.
What is the ANDI score? The acronym stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, and it’s a tool that was created by Dr. Joel Fuhrman to help you quickly and easily gauge the nutritional value of different foods (11).
The higher the ANDI score, the more nutritious the food according to his criteria. Foods that have an ANDI score of 1,000 or more are considered to be ultra-nutritious. You can find the ANDI score for thousands of different foods on Dr. Fuhrman’s website (1).
In this article, we’ll explore what the ANDI score is, how to use it, and some of the benefits of eating ultra-nutritious foods.
What Is The ANDI Score?
The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) is a resource developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman to help you quickly and easily gauge the nutritional value of different foods, according to his criteria (11).
ANDI scores are determined by how many nutrients a food contains in relation to its calorie content. The higher the score, the more nutrients per calorie.
Dr. Fuhrman devised the following simple formula:
- H= N/C (Health = Nutrients/Calories)
Simply put, a diet that is rich in high-ANDI foods will provide you with more nutrients per calorie, which is a key to good health, according to Dr. Fuhrman (11).
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How To Use The ANDI Score
The best way to use the ANDI score is to think of it as a guide. You can’t rely on it to tell you exactly how nutritious a food is, but it can give you a data point to base your food choices on.
The goal is to balance your diet by including a variety of high-ANDI foods and some lower-ANDI foods which provide more energy. This way, you’ll get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
The ANDI score can be used in two ways:
- To find nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories
- To compare the nutritional value of different foods
When looking for nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods, you can use the ANDI score to help you quickly identify foods that are both high in nutrients and low in calories.
For example, kale has an ANDI score of 1,000, meaning that it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. A cup of broccoli has only 33 calories, but it provides over 130% of your daily needs for vitamin C (4).
When comparing the nutritional value of different foods, you can use the ANDI score to see which food is more nutrient-dense. For example, spinach has an ANDI score of 739, while white potatoes have an ANDI score of only 43. This means that spinach is a more nutrient-dense food than white potatoes.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat white potatoes – they provide a significant amount of energy which your body relies on to function. But you could use this information to decide to pair white potatoes with spinach or another high ANDI score (more nutrient dense) food.
ANDI Score Food List
You can find the ANDI score for many common foods on Dr. Fuhrman’s website (1). The following is a list of some foods and their corresponding ANDI scores:
- Kale – 1000
- Collard Greens – 1000
- Watercress – 1000
- Swiss Chard – 895
- Bok Choy – 865
- Spinach – 707
- Arugula – 604
- Carrots – 458
- Cabbage – 434
- Broccoli – 340
- Cauliflower – 315
- Bell Peppers – 265
- Mushrooms – 238
- Tomato – 186
- Strawberries – 182
- Sweet Potato – 181
- Zucchini – 164
- Blueberries – 132
- Iceberg Lettuce – 127
- Grapes – 119
- Onions – 109
- Flax Seeds – 103
- Orange – 98
- Edamame – 98
- Cucumber – 87
- Tofu – 82
- Sesame Seeds – 74
- Lentils – 72
- Kidney Beans – 64
- Green Peas – 63
- Cherries – 55
- Pineapple – 54
- Apple – 53
- Mango – 53
- Peanut Butter – 51
- Corn – 45
- Pistachio Nuts – 37
- Oatmeal – 36
- Shrimp – 36
- Salmon – 34
- Eggs – 31
- Milk, 1% – 31
- Walnuts – 30
- Bananas – 30
- Whole Wheat Bread – 30
- Almonds – 28
- Avocado – 28
- Brown Rice – 28
- White Potato – 28
- Low Fat Plain Yogurt – 28
- Cashews – 27
- Chicken Breast – 24
- Ground Beef, 85% lean – 21
- Feta Cheese – 20
- French Fries – 12
- White Pasta – 11
- Cheddar Cheese – 11
- Apple Juice – 11
- Olive Oil – 10
- White Bread – 9
- Vanilla Ice Cream – 9
- Corn Chips – 7
- Cola – 1
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The Benefits Of Eating Ultra-Nutritious Foods
Including ultra-nutritious food in your diet has many benefits, including:
Reduced Risk Of Chronic Disease
A diet that is rich in high-ANDI foods might help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While the ANDI score system has not been validated by scientific research, more nutrient dense foods tend to have properties that are associated with lower disease risk.
Firstly, high-ANDI foods have low calorie densities, meaning that you can eat a lot of them without consuming a lot of calories. This is important, because excess calories are a major contributor to obesity-associated chronic diseases.
Secondly, many high-ANDI foods are packed full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help protect your cells from damage.
Thirdly, many high-ANDI foods are rich in fiber, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes (7).
Improved Weight Loss
A diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might help you lose weight more effectively than a diet that is low in these foods.
One reason for this is that high-ANDI foods are nutrient-dense, meaning that they are high in nutrients and low in calories. This means you can eat a lot of them without consuming excess calories which can lead to weight gain (8).
Another reason is that high-ANDI foods tend to be filling, meaning they can help you feel full longer. This should help you eat fewer calories overall and lose weight more successfully.
A diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might also help reduce your risk of obesity.
One reason for this is that high-ANDI foods tend to be lower in carbohydrates and high in fiber. This helps keep your blood sugar stable, which can help prevent weight gain (5).
Eating a diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might help give you more energy throughout the day.
One reason for this is that high-ANDI foods are low in toxins and rich in nutrients. This helps your body function at its best and gives you more energy.
Another reason is that high-ANDI foods are high in fiber. This helps keep your blood sugar stable and prevents you from feeling tired or sluggish after eating.
You do still need carbohydrates for energy, and many healthy complex carbohydrate foods are lower on the ANDI score list. This is why you should focus more on balance rather than eating only high ANDI score foods and avoiding low ANDI score foods
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A diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might help improve your digestion and reduce your risk of constipation.
These foods are rich in fiber, which helps keep your digestive system functioning properly (9). They are also low in GI irritants, which might help reduce inflammation and irritation in the gut (10).
Improved Immune Function
A diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might help improve your immune function and reduce your risk of infection (6).
One reason for this is that high-ANDI foods are packed full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help protect your cells from damage (2). Many vitamins and minerals are also necessary for proper immune system function.
Another reason is that these foods are rich in fiber, which helps keep your digestive system functioning properly. Keeping your gut healthy is important because it is home to a large number of immune system components (9).
Improved Mental Health
Eating a diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might help improve your mental health and reduce your risk of depression.
For one, some high-ANDI foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health (3).
Secondly, these antioxidants and phytonutrients might also help protect brain cells from oxidative stress and damage (2) (12).
Improved Skin Health
A diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might help improve your skin health and reduce your risk of skin problems.
These foods are rich in antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage, which may help reduce inflammation and irritation in the skin (13).
A diet that is high in high-ANDI foods might also help improve your skin’s elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles by protecting from UV damage.
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Downsides Of Using The ANDI Score
While the ANDI score is one way to measure the nutrient density of a food, it does have some limitations.
First of all, it does not factor in the balance of nutrients a food contains. This means that you can get a high ANDI score even if a food is low in certain nutrients.
Secondly, the ANDI score does not take into account the bioavailability of nutrients. This means that a food may have a high ANDI score even if the nutrients in it are not well absorbed by the body.
Finally, some foods with low ANDI scores are high in complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. These are all essential for proper functioning.
Despite these limitations, the ANDI score is still a useful resource for measuring the micronutrient density of a food. It can help you choose foods that are high in micronutrients, which is important for maintaining your health. But you also need to include some foods that are rich in complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats, which may be found lower on the ANDI list but are still essential parts of a healthy diet.
The Bottom Line
There are many benefits to eating a diet that is high in high-ANDI foods. Not only might it help you lose weight and improve your health, but it may also improve your mental health and skin health. If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious way to improve your wellbeing, try adding more high-ANDI foods to your diet, but don’t forget to balance your diet with lower ANDI-score foods that are rich in complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- ANDI Food Scores: Rating the Nutrient Density of Foods | DrFuhrman.com (2017, drfuhrman.com)
- Are antioxidants helpful for disease prevention? (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Brain Health across the Lifespan: A Systematic Review on the Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements (2018, mdpi.com)
- Calories in Raw Broccoli (n.d., nutritionix.com)
- Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
- Diet and Immune Function (2019, mdpi.com)
- Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary intakes associated with successful weight loss and maintenance during the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health (2010, mdpi.com)
- Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Nutrient Density | DrFuhrman.com (2016, drfuhrman.com)
- Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Systemic antioxidants and skin health (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)