Real nutrient densities of foods we eat


I have seen many articles telling me what great super food I should be eating to keep various diseases away.  Unfortunately many of these are based off of studies of groups looking to sell their products and based off of dietary recommendations based off of shaky science would be a kind statement.

Just out of curiosity I got my hands on the USDA food database and had a little fun in Excel and the results were pretty interesting.  Assuming I wanted to get the most nutrient value out of the foods I eat I wrote a formula for each nutrient from Vitamin A to Zinc what percentage rank across all of the foods did the item have.  I then summed up these percentages to create an overall score and grouped by average across the categories as a “Nutrient Density Score.”


The results are pretty enlightening, first off the top 5 categories with the most nutrient variety are all meat/animal products with vegetables/nuts/internal organs finishing up the top 8.  Makes that Paleo Diet not sound so crazy now does it…

Not surprising how grains, pasta, rice, and sweets fell to the bottom the the list but I was a but surprised to see Fruits being so far down the list.  Thinking this was based off of the low nutrient fruit juices does not appear to be the case with the top hitter being avocados with a lowly score of 2.4.

For those curious of the top 10 “super” foods here are the foods:

  1. Watercress
  2. Liver
  3. Spinach
  4. Asparagus
  5. Seaweed
  6. Crab
  7. Pak-Choi
  8. Turnip Greens
  9. Egg Whites
  10. Ham

Here are the food items in the bottom 10:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Oil/Fats
  3. Grape/Orange Soda
  4. Maple syrup (corn syrup version)
  5. Pudding
  6. Cornstarch
  7. Long rice noodles
  8. Fruit snacks
  9. Fruit punch
  10. Flour

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