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Standard American Diet Versus a Nutritarian Diet

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health
Wordcount: 861 words Published: 5th Sep 2017

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Essential Nutrients

  • Macronutrients – include carbohydrates, proteins, and fat; they supply the calories to our body for energy and growth.
  • Micronutrients – include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals; they do not contain calories but are essential for health and growth. They are found in whole foods, vegetables, beans, berries, and seeds.

Standard American Diet

In the standard American diet (SAD) about 85 percent of calories come from low-nutrient, high-calorie processed foods, animal products, dairy products and sweets. All these foods contribute to weight gain, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Only 10 percent of the SAD is from natural plants such as vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts, which contain micronutrients that help protect blood vessels and prevent cancer. That’s why we have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The Nutritarian Diet, Health Equation, and ANDI Scores

A nutritarian diet is a diet plan rich in micronutrients based on the health equation:

Health (H) = Nutrients (N) / Calories (C)

This means the more nutrient dense your diet, the healthier you become.

The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) ranks the nutrient value of many common foods based on the amount of nutrients per calorie. This system ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 1,000, with the most nutrient-dense cruciferous leafy green vegetables (kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and watercress) scoring at 1,000. The table in Dr. Fuhrman’s ANDI Scores (https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/95/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods) is a list of ANDI Scores of many common foods.

The Eat to Live Plan is a nutritarian diet plan with the following features:

  1. Large portions of green vegetables, raw or cooked
  2. Animal products limited to no more than three small servings per week
  3. No dairy, white flour, and white rice
  4. No processed foods, cold cereals, and sweets
  5. No sweeteners, except fruits and limited unsulfured dried fruits
  6. Carbohydrates with high ANDI scores, such as beans, peas, squashes, lentils, and intact whole grains
  7. Protective foods such as walnuts, mushrooms, onion, berries, and seeds.

Food Pyramid

Beef, sweets, cheese, milk, processed food, hydrogenated oil


Poultry, eggs, oils

Once a week or less

Fish/Fat-free dairy

Twice a week or less

Raw nuts/Seeds

10-20% of calories


15-25% of calories


20-30% of calories

Vegetables – half raw and half cooked

30-70% of calories

Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)

Refined grain products-such as bagels, white bread, pasta, white rice, most breakfast cereals, and other processed grains- have low nutrient value. These foods are rapidly digested and converted to sugar, raising the glucose level in the bloodstream in the same way as if you had consumed a cube of sugar. Studies have shown that long-term intake of refined grain products causes weight gain and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The glycemic index (GI) ranks food on a scale from 0 to 100 according to their impact on blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are digested and absorbed rapidly, producing steep rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. Low-GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly, producing gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels.

The glycemic load (GL) measures the actual calories of glucose produced by a serving of the food. Carrot is a good example of the lack of precision inherent in using only the GI measure. Carrot’s GI is 35, which is fairly high. But when carrots are eaten raw, their glycemic effect is lessened as the body does not absorb all the calories in raw foods. Carrot’s GL is only 3. It is not a negative food, even for the diabetics.

The Glycemic Index (GI) Food Chart (http://documents.hants.gov.uk/hms/HealthyEatingontheRun-LowGlycemicIndexFoodList.pdf) shows the GI for many common foods.

Studies have shown that a diet with a higher GL is associated with a greater risk of colorectal, endometrial, and breast cancers. Refined grain products, soft drinks, and fruit juices can cause weight gain and lead to diabetes. Studies also show the this link becomes stronger as the individual’s weight and insulin resistance increases.


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