How Dense Are You?

With all the consumer and interest groups' crying out for better food labeling these days, perhaps Dr. Joel Fuhrman has soothed some of their anguish with his informative food labeling tool, the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).  The index he created (and which the national food store chain, Whole Foods, adopted) assigns a score to various foods based on their nutrient value per calorie or how dense with the good stuff they are.

How the Index Works

Most micronutrients are not listed on food labels.  But the ANDI helps with that.  ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive variety of whole foods and their micronutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals.  The scores are valued from 0 - 1,000, with 1,000 being the most nutrient dense and zero being the least.  This score is placed on the food labels for consumers to better evaluate their food choices.

Who Made the Cut?

Leafy greens dominate the chart, naturally.  They score at the upper end of ANDI, between 500 and a perfect 1,000.  Some vegetables like broccoli, which was a surprise, and some other cabbage family friends scored down the chart in the 300-500 range.  Fruit fared much lower hovering around 100.  Oats beat out other grains and the beans and the legumes didn't embarrass themselves too badly.  Meat and seafood, well, we will not mention their scores as Dr. Fuhrman advocates a vegetarian lifestyle mostly. But, he does acknowledge the importance of healthy fats in our diet.

Top Dogs

Kale, mustard greens, collard greens and watercress all receive an ANDI score of 1,000.  I am choosing to feature a spread made with the glorious watercress as it is the underdog in this top group.  The others get so much attention these days and well, I like underdogs.  Click over here for lots more information on this ANDI winner as a compacted nutritional source and why you should include it in on your plate.

Green Goodness Dip and Spread

Spread this generously on a sandwich of choice or dip your vegetable crudite for added nutrient value and great taste.


  • 1.5 cups trimmed fresh watercress
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup chives
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • large pinch of salt
  • large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 - 2 cups plain Greek organic yogurt
food processor

Now do this
  • Place all the ingredients with the exception of the Greek yogurt in the food processor.
  • Process on high until very smooth.
  • Add drops of water if the consistency is getting so thick it will not process easily.
  • Add yogurt and process until well blended.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings.

Looking for More?

Read the words of the doctor himself.  Eat for Health can be found at most bookstores, published in 2012. It is an easy read and a great reference on eating efficiently and getting the best nutrient bang for the buck, so to speak.  The doctor has written several other books as well explaining in detail his plan for better health with lots of success stories illustrating the plan's effects.