ANDI Score System nutrient density

A note from our EIC: This story originally ran in 2013 while Dr. Fuhrman was one of our monthly Guest Editors. Over the years, I have referred to the idea of  “nutrient density” over and over, using it as a reference for a diet that is focused, not on deprivation, but on packing our plates with as many nutrient dense foods as possible. Here’s the ANDI Score System to get you started and Dr. Furhman’s incredible book to dive even further. 

 Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s system for rating the nutrient density of all foods is a can’t-miss reference for anyone looking to get the best quality foods into their bodies. ANDI stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index” and learning how to navigate it can transform your approach to eating.

This index measures foods for a wide-array of nutritional qualities and rates them on a scale from 1 – 1000. Foods with perfect scores include a few foods you’d expect like kale and spinach – but did you know watercress and boy choy are also high-ranked superstars? The lowest end of the spectrum includes regular suspects like white bread and pasta – foods that calorie-for-calorie provide little that the body requires for robust health.

ANDI Score System

Dr. Fuhrman considers himself a “nutritarian” – an idea we love. According to Fuhrman, “Adequate consumption of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and many other phytochemicals – without overeating on calories, is the key to achieving excellent health. Micronutrients fuel proper functioning of the immune system and enable the detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from chronic diseases. A nutritarian is someone whose food choices reflect a high ratio of micronutrients per calorie and a high level of micronutrient variety.”

Check out our version of Dr Fuhrman’s ANDI score system chart above to give you a jumpstart on the foods you should be getting more of and which foods to start eating less of! We love referencing high-ANDI score foods to inspire our eating plans. For more on the ANDI Score System grab a copy of Dr. Fuhrman’s classic book, then check out a few of his favorite food groups here.

From our friends


  1. I am looking for a health low carbs diet to fight type-2 diabetic w/out taking the poison they call Metformin. My blood sugar is only 9 points above normal & this med the doctor gave me makes me extremely ill & to the point that I do not wish to eat, smell or look at food. Can you help me?

    Marceille | 10.07.2013 | Reply
    • I take Metformin and it doesn’t bother me. I lost almost 40 pounds om Dr. Furhman’s Eat to Live diet. It is great. My blood sugar averages dropped from 150 to 103 after about 30 days. Try it; it works

      Jesse | 10.07.2013 | Reply
      • So thrilled to hear of your success, Jesse!

        The Chalkboard | 10.08.2013 | Reply
    • dr. fuhrman wrote a book book called “reversing diabetes”… it works.

  2. I’m 43 yr old male who has been a diagnosed type 2 diabetic since age 34. I was prescribed metformin and lisinopril upon my initial diagnoses. I never took either drug. I instead changed my diet to a low carb, low diary, higher protein and vegetable intake. Most of my protein comes from plant sources. It has worked very well. I exercise daily and feel great. I have experienced very few problems. My doctor says to continue exactly what I have been doing. I emphasize that for me, this is not a diet but a lifestyle change.

    Tony | 10.08.2013 | Reply
    • “Not a diet, but a lifestyle change” – love it!

      The Chalkboard | 10.08.2013 | Reply
  3. Okay any meat-eater worth their “chops” should skip the ANDI score as a reference. Dr. Fuhrman is obsiously a proponent of plant-based diets, and that is obvious in his listing of foods. The only nutrients included in the ANDI score are carotenoids (and other pigments), fiber, and ORAC (x2, b/c he feels it is that important!!). Nutrients he has excluded from the list are: preformed vit A, vig B5, vit B12, vit D, biotin, vit K1 & K2, taurine, iodide, 11 essential minerals, all essential fatty acids, and all essential amino acids!!!!! The first animal protein is shrimp, with a ranking of 36 while kale ranks 1000. Everyone, please use common sense!!!!

    Courtney F | 10.09.2013 | Reply
    • This! Thank you Courtney.

      Can you recommend alternative sources for us “meat-eaters” to reference?

      Susan | 10.11.2013 | Reply
    • What is being missed here by the “meat eater” who posted above (I am too a meat eater btw) is the the ANDI score lists foods that are high in nutrients PER calorie. Therefore, meat due to its high caloric content VS nutrients is lower on the list. Additionally almost any combo of plant foods contain all 8 essential amino acids plus nonessential amino acids

      I find your post to be completely ignorant and more defensive than based on fact. 50% of greens are protein. Broccoli (which i detest) has 11.1 grams of protein per 100 calories. 100 calories of steak has only 6.4 grams of protein. Animal protein is packaged w/ saturated fat, cholesterol & Arachidonic Acid. Plant protein is packaged w/ fiber, phytochemicals & Antioxidants.

      Almost any assortment of plant foods contains 30-40 grams of protein per 1000 calories. I choose to eat meat but you don’t have to for protein.

      Plant based diets are high in essential fatty acids contrary to what you have said above. As for Iodine, vitamin D and some of the others you mentioned, they can be found in a multi-vitamin. Any non-meat eater will need a b-12 supplement.

      Yes he recommends a plant based whole foods diet but that doesn’t take away from the fact that these are the foods that have the highest nutrient PER calorie. He also doesn’t say ONLY eat kale or collard greens. You need to balance your diet. Read his literature.

      Look up the China Project (largest study on diet ever!)

      This scale is a good reference for anyone.

  4. This scale is definitely a worthwhile way of finding stellar nutritional additions to any meal it does lead people astray from eating high protein items. There needs to be some way people can follow these guidelines while still getting easily accessible protein.

    Andrea | 12.05.2013 | Reply
    • Hm. Except kale is 50% protein. Most of those leafy greens have lots of proteins. Nuts, beans…… no lack of protein here at all! The marketing myth of meat & protein… sigh

      Cecile | 03.20.2014 | Reply
  5. See my post above. You don’t need meat for protein

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  7. KBE, could you please share your source for citing that broccoli has 11.1 grams of protein per 100 calorie serving? I cannot find anything that supports this. My research shows 5.2 grams of protein per 100 calorie serving. Thanks so much!

    Tanya | 07.02.2019 | Reply
  8. I wish people stopped rating plants as if one is better than the other. A healthy diet is based on the rainbow and a sweet potato is as valuable as the insufferable kale!!!!!!! Please stop this.

    Bettina | 07.02.2019 | Reply
  9. Everything listed are COMMON foods found in any grocery store. What isn’t listed are more exotic superfoods. If people want Vit A and Vit B-12, 1 tsp spirulina powder contains 220% & 190% RDA respectively, as well as 2gr protein at only 15 calories.

    Kurt | 07.12.2019 | Reply

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