We all have our own ideas about which foods are good for us and what we should cut out, whether it is eating a low carb diet, five fruits a day, using food supplements or counting calories to keep our weight down. But it seems we have been challenged by a new approach – the Nutritarian way. In a nutshell the nutritarian approach to eating is about counting the amount of nutrients in every bite we take. The objective is to make every mouthful as packed full of nutrients as possible.
The nutrient index
In order to count nutrients we need a new measure and there is one, it is called ANDI (aggregate nutrient density index). ANDI has been devised by Dr Fuhrman and has already been endorsed by at least one celebrity. The ANDI measures foods by how many micro-nutrients there are per calorie, which means that vitamins and minerals are also counted. The highest score any food can have is 1,000.
Benefits of eating high nutrient foods
The promoters of this system say that if you eat foods that are packed with nutrients you will lose weight and your appetite will also be curbed naturally. They claim that a diet packed with high ANDI scoring foods protects against modern diseases and over time improves your emotional and physical wellbeing, reversing many diet-related chronic illnesses. These claims are based on several years research and a two year peer review carried out in a university in the USA.
Which foods are the winners and losers?
- Vegetables – top of the ANDI scores is green leaf vegetables especially kale and watercress with the maximum score of 1,000, cabbage is lower at 481 and green peppers score 258
- Fruits – bright coloured fruits score from 212 to 100 with strawberries at the top of the scale, other nutrient packed fruits include blueberries, oranges and melon at the lower end scoring 100
- Nuts and seeds – score lower that fruits, the most nutritious are flax and sunflower seeds, pistachio, almond and walnuts ranging from 78 to 61
- Beans and pulses – lentils and kidney beans score highest at 104 and 100 respectively
- Meats and fish – score quite low down the scale the best being salmon, shrimps, chicken breast and lean beef, ranging from 39 down to beef at 20.
- Carbohydrates – carbs are not particularly favoured, they are replaced by the natural sugars in fruits and vegetable, but oatmeal scores 53, potatoes 31 and wholemeal bread/pasta 25.
- Dairy foods – also not favoured, but if you insist then reduced fat milk and yogurt plus eggs are OK.
Foods and drink such as cola, French fries and ice cream hardly make it onto the ANDI scale!
Key characteristics of the nutritarian diet
The main characteristic of this diet is that it includes eating a much higher portion of fruits and vegetables so smoothies and soups are favourites. Fat is also eaten to maintain energy but through eating nuts and seeds rather than animal fat. Much smaller levels of carbohydrate are consumed through eating beans, whole-grains and starchy vegetables.
The nutritarian diet cuts out getting protein from meat and fish or dairy products. Meat proteins are replaced by plant proteins and carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta are replaced by the natural sugars that are in fruits and vegetables.
At least one dietician has expressed concern that this diet is harsh, moving too far towards fruits and vegetables with insufficient levels of protein and carbohydrate. It may also be quite difficult to stick to when much of the foods we can buy have a low ANDI.
Then what is a healthy diet?
Even if you don’t go the whole hog and take up a nutritarian diet it provides a lot of useful pointers about what food is going to give you the nutrients your body needs and those that may be less beneficial and therefore eaten in smaller quantities.
So pack your diet with spinach, carrots, squash, kidney beans, lentils, oranges, red grapes, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, pine kernels, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… and you will be on the right track to stay healthy and younger looking.
Eat lots of fried foods, artificially sweetened foods and drinks, more pasta, pizza and potatoes than fruits and vegetable, fatty red meats, full fat dairy products and of course processed and fast foods… and you will likely be overweight, prone to early ageing and age related ill-health problems.
To find out more about what is a healthy diet and Nutritarians visit my blog by clicking this link: healthyweightlossways.com/what-is-a-healthy-diet-for-nutritarians
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