Let me begin by saying that “the secret formula to health” is H=N/C (Health=Nutrients/Calories).
An ANDI score begins to refer to an item of food’s nutrient density. For example, here are items one through ten on the Top 30 Super Foods (according to Dr. Fuhrman):
Collard Greens/Mustard Greens/Turnip Greens (ANDI=1000) *1000 is the highest possible ANDI score
Bok Choy (ANDI=824)
Broccoli Rabe (ANDI=715)
Chinese/Napa Cabbage (ANDI=704)
Brussels Sprouts (ANDI=672)
Swiss Chard (ANDI=670)
So there’s an example for you of the highest “super foods” on the Nutrient Density list. You see, a food like kale is packed full of nutrients, and yet quite low in calories. This combination (H=N/C) makes it’s ANDI or “Health” score off the charts, it receives a perfect score of 1000.
Now, for example, raspberries have an ANDI score of 145 while walnuts score a 34. These are both INCREDIBLY healthy foods, yes, however they are significantly higher in calories than kale therefore making their ANDI scores go down.
Something like almond butter (one of my FAVORITE food staples), in a serving size of 2 TBSP, packs around 203 calories which gives it an ANDI score of 26. No one will argue that, in moderation, nut butter is filled with protein and nutrients. This scoring system simply gives one an equation with which to work when making food choices. Now we’ve only discussed healthy foods thus far, leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts…what about something like a beer? How about a dark chocolate candy bar? Apple pie? Here are some not so high ANDI scores, indulgences that one should limit and approach with an attitude of moderation:
Beer, 12 fl oz, Calories=139, ANDI=7
Dark Chocolate Candy Bar, 45-59% cocoa, 1.5 oz, Calories=254, ANDI=34 (*NOT BAD!)
Apple Pie, One Slice, Calories=411, ANDI=6
Wine, 4 fl oz, Calories=80, ANDI=3
Cola, 8 fl oz, Calories=60, ANDI=1
Now let’s quickly look over that last list. I want to preface this by saying there are very few things I like to dub “unhealthy.” I like to think of my lifestyle as healthy and my food choices as healthy, because they’re balanced and I care about consuming the most nutrients as I possibly can. I will say, however, that a cola (and I used to be a Diet Dr. Pepper drinking gal as a teenager!) is unhealthy. There’s literally no nutrients to it, no wait I’m sorry, it scored a one…but seriously. You’re drinking carbonated, chemically enhanced, food dyed SUGAR. For 60 calories is it worth gaining zero nutrients? To some, yes, and more power to them. But to most of us, we’d be better off reaching for something else. Look at that glass of wine and dark chocolate candy bar, for instance. You can consume even a five ounce glass of wine with your dark chocolate bar and keep it at 355 calories and an ANDI score of 40-something (I’m no mathematician, let’s face it now while it’s still early). I’d just like to point out, you could reach for a tablespoon of pure sugar for 49 calories and a ZERO on the ANDI score – how different is that from a cola? A point and ten calories. Perhaps think of that the next time you reach for a Coke!
Now please don’t get me wrong, I strive to inform with this little post and not to condemn soda drinking, apple pie eating people, ha ha. I *firmly* believe that moderation is the key to happiness. I’ve still not read Dr. Dean Edell’s Eat, Drink, and Be Merry but my Dad is a fan and has alluded to its endorsement of a moderate and balanced lifestyle. A slice of your favorite dessert on occasion is what life is about (and this is coming from a girl who has a little bit of dark chocolate pretty much every night after dinner – I crave antioxidants, ESPECIALLY in chocolate form!!!). We don’t know how long we have so let’s not restrict our favorite taste sensations because it didn’t make Dr. Furhman’s list of Superfoods! I’m simply calling for more attention in our daily food choices. Oftentimes folks reach for a cola forgetting that it packs calories, forgetting that it doesn’t offer their body nutrients. They want the caffeine, or the sugar rush. I think we ought to stick to real foods. Enjoy your beer, but realize it’s “7” on the ANDI score isn’t going to benefit you after three or four. Again, I’m referring to your daily life, your routine evening, your usual snacks. Try and make the healthiest decisions you can on a day-to-day basis and it will balance out your delicious indulgences. Variety is the spice of life. Apples, pears, plums, oh my! Okay that was lame. I’m just saying, if you want caffeine, pick up 8 oz of brewed coffee and be rewarded with a whopping punch of antioxdants. Even with 2 TBPS of half and half you’re adding 39 calories but with an ANDI score of 10. Trying to think smart on a day-to-day basis will extend your life, your energy, and ultimately the happiness you feel in every moment.
I sincerely hope this post didn’t turn into some weird “preachy health-nut rant” because I genuinely only wanted to define what an ANDI score is, and I ended up chastising Coca Cola. Well, it’s 9am on a Sunday morning, what can I say? In hopes that no loyal cola drinkers are offended, I hope you fill your day with joy and antioxidants, and many smiles 🙂