As a nutritarian, it’s important to know the nutrient density of your food. Not merely vitamins and minerals, but adequate consumption of phytochemicals are essential for a normal immune system and to enable our body’s detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from cancer and other diseases.
Nutritional science in the last twenty years has demonstrated that colorful plant foods contain a huge assortment of protective compounds, mostly unnamed at this point. Only by eating an assortment of natural foods that are nutrient-rich, can we access these compounds and protect ourselves from the common diseases that afflict Americans. Our modern, low-nutrient eating style leads to an overweight population with common diseases of nutritional ignorance and medical costs spiraling out of control. We need to flip our traditional thinking upside down, and begin eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains
In order to measure nutrient density, Eat Right America created rankings of foods according the nutrients they pack. Because phytochemicals are largely unnamed and unmeasured, these rankings underestimate the healthful properties of colorful natural plant foods compared to processed foods and animal products. One thing we do know is that the foods that contain the highest amount of known nutrients are the same foods that contain the most unknown nutrients too. So even though these rankings may not consider the phytochemical number sufficiently they are still a reasonable measurement of their content.
A Sample of Eat Right America’s ERNI Superfoods based on Nutrient Density Scores and Phyto Chemicals
Steel Cut Oats
Keep in mind that nutrient density scoring is not the only factor that determines good health. For example, if we only ate foods with a high nutrient density score our diet would be too low in fat. So we have to pick some foods with lower nutrient density scores (but preferably the ones with the healthier fats) to include in our high nutrient diet. Additionally, if a thin person or highly physically active individual ate only the highest nutrient foods they would become so full from all of the fiber and nutrients that would keep them from meeting their caloric needs and they would eventually become too thin. This of course gives you a hint at the secret to permanent weight control.