3.02.2010

The ANDI Score


Have you guys heard of this yet? It’s starting to become more widely used so I thought I should write about it.

ANDI stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.” Nutrient density refers to the amount of nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals) in a food related to the amount of energy (calories) in the food. However, the ANDI score focuses mainly on micronutrients, which are the vitamins and minerals. As you can probably guess, things like fruits and vegetables are very nutrient-dense foods, whereas things like gummy bears and Oreo cookies are not.

The ANDI score is based on a scale of 1 to 1000, with 1000 being the highest nutrient density possible. Whole Foods is the first grocery store to begin to label certain foods with their specific ANDI score, in an effort to help shoppers make smart, nutritious decisions.

However, there is one point I want to make about these scores: certain foods that are high in fat, complex carbohydrates or proteins are rated lower on the ANDI scale, such as olive oil, eggs or brown rice. Olive oil has a score of 9, eggs a score of 27, and brown rice a score of 41 If a shopper focuses only on foods higher on the scale, such as kale at 1000 or lentils at 104, they may not obtain the proper amount of macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) in their diet. This can interfere with metabolism, weight loss efforts, energy levels, and overall health. So while I do think the ANDI score system can be helpful, it is still important to be educated on what it means to have a well-balanced diet. The key, as usual, is to stay away from those processed foods! And while Whole Foods has many fresh conventionally and organically grown produce, it has plenty of processed foods in those center isles, too. Just because it comes from Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s going to have a high ANDI score!

Here are some sample scores so you can get an idea of which foods are rated higher and lower on the scale:
  • Mustard/Turnip/Collard Greens: 1000
  • Kale: 1000 (This is why I talk so much about kale – it’s a perfect food!!)
  • Watercress: 1000
  • Bok Choy: 824
  • Spinach: 739
  • Strawberries: 212
  • Blackberries: 178
  • Apple: 72
  • Black Beans: 83
  • Edamame: 58
  • Sunflower Seeds: 78
  • Almonds: 38
  • Walnuts: 34
  • Bison: 39
  • Chicken Breast: 27
  • Salmon: 39
  • Trout: 36
  • Oats: 53
  • Quinoa: 21
  • Plain Nonfat Yogurt: 30
  • Mozzarella (Part Skim): 16
Do any of these surprise you? Some of them definitely surprised me. If we only ate those foods scored in the 900-1000 range, we’d be eating only vegetables. I think the system can be helpful when people think of portion sizes. As a general rule, we should eat more generous portions of foods with high ANDI scores, and smaller portions of foods with lower scores. But the important thing is not to completely cut out foods with low scores, because our bodies need the essential fatty acids, complex carbs and proteins.




If you are a Whole Foods shopper, look for the ANDI score signs and start to become aware of nutrient-dense foods you are buying. Hopefully other grocery stores will begin to use this information as well, because I think it can be helpful when used correctly.


20 comments:

  1. Is there a more extensive list online of the ANDI score on everyday items? I'm wondering where tofu comes in, as I've been eating House Food's Shirataki Tofu Noodles instead of regular pasta. Do foods like kale and spinach lower their score once cooked? Thanks! (BTW, LOVE your blog!)

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    1. You can get a more complete list of the ANDI scores in the "Nutritarian Handbook & ANDI Food Scoring Guide" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. You can read more on Dr. Fuhrman's web site at http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/andi-food-scores.aspx. The book can be bought on Amazon or through Dr. Fuhrman's site.

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    2. I read at this website "http://www.morssglobalfinance.com/nutrition-scoring-nuvaltm-versus-andi-but-what-info-is-really-needed/" that Dr. Joel Fuhrman scores 500 items. That would be more of a complete list to me. Only a select few are listed in the Nutritarian Handbook & ANDI Food Scoring Guide~ less than 100. I wonder where would the 500 list is hmmmmm~

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  2. Ann, this is so helpful. As I work toward earning the love of Ben MacKay, I want to be my healthiest. The ANDI score is great, but I will not forget the essential fats, especially those great California almonds.

    -Ali Fedotowski

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  3. I'm disheartened to know that my beloved Gummi Bears do not rank high. Travesty.

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  4. A more extensive list of ANDI scored items can be found at the link below, but I can't find a place online that lists each food. Whole Foods has little books that tell the score of most foods, available in their stores. Since heating causes veggies to lose some of their nutrients, I would say yes, their ANDI scores go down. However, they'll still be extremely high relative to other foods on the list. Thanks for your comment!

    Ann

    PS To Sara, trust me, I am sad gummy bears don't score higher too!!!

    http://wholefoodsmarket.com/storeblogs/dedham/2010/02/12/andi-scores/

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  5. Hi Ann,

    I just did a Google search for ANDI nutritional index and eggs, and stumbled upon your blog. It is great that you blog about your passion for nutrition. Anyway, I just wanted to know if you knew about two other resources for nutritional density that I have found. First, for ANDI, there is also an associated food pyramid to guide people in the right direction for food categories and not just the high scores.
    Green and colourful non-starchy veggies 4 - unlimited
    Fruit 3 - 5
    Nuts and Seeds 1 - 3
    Beans 1 - 3
    Whole Grains and Starchy Veggies 1 - 3
    Fish, White Meat, Eggs 1
    White Bread, Pasta, Oil 3 per week
    Red Meat, Processed Food, Sweets Rarely

    Second is the WHFoods.org that lists nutritious foods by category and not ranked.

    Sincerely,
    John

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  6. Great ANDI Table:

    http://www.eatrightamerica.com/andi-superfoods/full-andi-scoring

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  7. Hmm, I wanted to see the ANDI score for the SUPER food quinoa, and found that a score of 21 makes quinoa not so good. I bet if we gave a ANDI score of salt water, it would be 1000, as there is no calories in the water and very high in the minerals. However, none of the minerals would be good for us but, gee that score sure would be high!

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  8. I have been reading alot about the ANDI score and I think it is a wonderful NUTRIENT DENSE PER CALORIE SCORE, but some think it the bible. If we only lived on high ANDI scoring food, we would miss out on other nutrients and be very very skinny, if not anorexic. ANDI is only a guide, not gospel. And I do applaud Dr. Fuhrman for all his valuable contributions to society and medicine. Approaches to nutrition have to be common sense and what meets each individual needs and desire.

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  9. My brother has a blood clotting health issue and was told to eliminate the High Vitamin K vegetables which are the kale, broccoli etc which are high ANDI. What is truth? what do you listen too.

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  11. It's the ratio of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to macro nutrients (carbs, fat, protein). Anything with a significant amount of calories will have a low andi score. Period. So you would not want starving countries to be given foods with higher andi scores (e.g. celery) cuz it'd kill them! It's a great tool for people with "means" to adjust their diet to lose weight. It's not the do all and end all... Which is essentially what Ann was getting at.

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