My local supermarket has started assigning foods with an ‘ANDI’ score. What does that mean, and should I avoid foods with a low ANDI value?
The ANDI score—which stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index– is a food rating system developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (and popularized in his book, Eat for Health) that assigns a score of 1-1000 to all foods based on their “nutrient density.” The more nutrients that a food has per calorie, the higher its ANDI score. Not surprisingly, the foods that top the list with perfect scores of 1,000 are leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, mustard/turnip greens and watercress that are loaded with vitamins and minerals but have very few calories.
But don’t avoid foods just because they have a low ANDI score. While ANDI chart-topping veggies are certainly worth eating more of, they don’t provide you with the complete set of nutrients that your body needs for optimal health: nutrients like protein, essential heart-healthy fats, and certain key B-vitamins, for example. To get these important nutrients—and others—you’ll need to eat a wide variety of whole foods whose ANDI scores are all over the map. Certain wholesome foods—like eggs, salmon, oatmeal, beans and nuts—have lower ANDI scores by design because their ratio of nutrients to calories is much higher than that of, say, a leafy vegetable. But they’re still important components of a healthy diet.
If you’re looking to improve the quality of your diet, try eating at least one or two servings of high-ANDI score foods every day, and use the list as a reminder of all the nutritious foods out there that you may not be eating yet, but that are worth giving a try!
Tamara Duker Freuman