I've been waiting since last AUGUST for this!
What about the nutrient density index surprised you? What effect (if any) will the index have on your diet?
For me I was shocked with how low human breast milk ranked. I guess it is about time for me to start weening myself of it anyway. Perhaps the low ranking was due to the exclusion of fatty acids from the analysis.
asked byMr_T (120)
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on March 16, 2013
at 02:03 PM
Argh!!!! His refusal to compare isocaloric values pissed me off so much. And then, he spends time discussing this artifact in the data as if it's significant!
For example, at around minute 28, he compares cooked versus raw grains, and laments the loss of nutrients in cooking. He does not mention the change in caloric density! So wrong... Sweet potatoes versus white potatoes... sweet potatoes lose, but they're 50% less calorically dense! Isocaloric amounts? They're pretty similar!
He simply needed two scales: values per serving and values per calorie. And strategically use one scale or the other when comparing foods. Foods with wildly different serving sizes? You can't use per serving values, the numbers just fall apart. Foods that are very different in character (ground beef versus broccoli, for example), the numbers don't work per calorie.
So unfortunately, I think Mat's scale falls short.
EDIT: ok, the last few minutes of the presentation...
Caloric weight... something's not right there, because all his numbers go down. When he eliminates water/fiber from the mass, the denominator decreases... If I do this for a single nutrient and a single food: 100 grams of broccoli has 99% DV of Vitamin C, dry weight of broccoli is 7.2 grams per 100 grams. So with water you get a per mass value of 0.99, and without water/fiber you get 13.75. Beef liver 100 grams has 82% DV of B3 so per mass value of 0.82, dry weight of liver is 27.9 grams per 100 grams, so an DV per mass of 2.93. So, he did some wonky math or did something without showing his work...
Also, his serving sizes for spices were insanely huge, which gave artificially high nutrient density scores. Who uses 100 grams of dried basil when cooking?
In the end.. Mat made a scale that favors animal products over others. Not sure that's any better than plant-biased systems he criticized at the beginning.
EDIT EDIT: Ok, in addition to the problem with caloric density, he also has a problem (I think, unless he did some math in his standardization/normalization) with a single nutrient raising the overall nutrient density by a significant amount. Beef liver and kale come to mind... for liver B12, vitamin A and copper are so much higher than all the other nutrients. Kale has so much more K than everything else.
So wouldn't it be reasonable to cap those excess nutrients? So I did that below with some foods from Cronometer, simply totaling the vitamin/mineral DVs.
...................per 100 calories........with 500% DV cap..........with 100% DV cap Beef Liver 2254 2070 899 Chicken Breast 192 192 192 Ground Beef 160 160 160 Kale 2254 1555 730 Broccoli 918 918 577 Cucumber 391 391 391 Sweet Potato 233 233 233 Wheat Bread 194 194 194 White Rice 97 97 97 Brazil Nuts 631 600 200 Almonds 139 139 139 Peanuts 103 103 103 Raspberries 259 259 259 Banana 125 125 125 Apple 57 57 57
So isocaloric... compare within the meats, is beef liver that great? Yes, even capped, it's significantly more nutrient dense than chicken or beef. Comparing veggies, is kale the superfood that it's made out to be? Well, not as much as in the case of liver... capping excess nutrients (like vitamin K) brings kale more or less into line with other veggies, but it does still come out slightly ahead. Comparing starches, all in the same ballpark, and wheat bread is not a slouch when it comes to nutrient density.
I think the above numbers make sense intuitively from a paleo mindset (maybe not chicken over beef, that's a calorie/fat effect, but the fact that they are at least close shouldn't be a surprise). It makes intuitive sense that veggies are for the most part more nutritious than meats and starches (save liver).
on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM
I'm surprised nuts and seeds had such a good ranking. He's advocated in the past a seedless diet and I feel like that's an inconsistency he didn't address.
on March 16, 2013
at 08:45 PM
That was excellent. His takedown of the covert vegetarian at the start of the Q&A was great! You need to watch the whole session to get a feel for his work, he said very clearly that this was the data that he had to work with, that there are many other factors that need to be included, and it is not a dietary recommendation. He is making his data available to anyone who asks, so it's up to others to do more data crunching if they have a problem with his work. What is really surprising (and disappointing) is that this sort of analysis has not been done before and the indexes already out there are either broken or heavily biased by those who have an ideology to push -- give us the facts and leave it up to the individual to decide what combination of foods they want to consume.
on March 16, 2013
at 07:18 PM
What if I ran the zoo? I developed an index once which I was proud of, a simple predictor of waste paper value based on two fundamental physical properties. When I had diabetes I was greatly helped in food selection by the published numbers on glycemic index.
What if someone developed an index which evaluated foods on the basis of their similarity to a vitamin pill? Would it have any value for anyone other than GNC?
I'm sorry, but I couldn't make it through this to the end. It suggests nonsense like basing a diet on Brazil nuts and kale. The basis for the index is a summation of cats, dogs and parakeets (good!) and raccoons, strontium 90 and Khomeini (bad!). What's good or bad is of Mat Lalonde's own choosing. Common sense is ignored in favor of the selenium RDA.
This index leaves me with the impression that breast-feeding mothers are toxic to their newborns. WRONG. I appreciate Mat's effort but with his education he should be able realize that this is a POS, and try again. An index is of little value if it's backloaded with the author's personal biases.
on March 16, 2013
at 05:58 PM
Disappointed by his hairstyle. 1995 called, they want their gel back.
on March 16, 2013
at 05:17 PM
I think the data is interesting, but in a lot of cases not really useful for choosing foods for a diet. For example, nuts are very nutritionally dense, but the 100g of Brazil nuts that have such great nutrition also have about 650 calories, about 25-75% of your calories for the day. This would make it difficult to eat enough other foods to have a balanced diet unless you ate so many calories that you'd gain a lot of weight.
Similarly, 100g of dried basil has a lot of nutrition, but how can anyone possibly eat that? That's like a cup of dry basil, the usual serving size is probably 1/100 of that.
And there is no data available for cooked wheat? That is totally amazing considering that is the bulk of most people's diets and the foundation of the "food pyramid". He suggests that the nutritional value of grains are based on their raw state, even though most people eat them cooked. If that is true, that is a scandal of epic proportions that everyone needs to be aware of.
He also does not adjust for anti-nutrients (phytates, etc) and substances that cause other problems like inflammation or allergic reactions (gluten, nightshades, etc). There is also no talk about omega 3 vs. 6, basically all fat is listed as not nutritionally dense. But everyone needs to eat some fat, many nutrients are only fat-soluble, and having the right omega 3 vs. 6 balance is as important as nutrients IMHO.
The challenge for most people is how to get the highest level of nutrition with the smallest number of calories, and also in a way that it is not impossible to buy, prepare and eat your food. The data he gave here is an interesting starting point but a lot more analysis is needed to get there.
on March 16, 2013
at 02:16 PM
I was surprised that many whole grains compared almost equally (around negative 3) with most every meat (including the healthiest pork). He says to "wrap everything in bacon," but why not wrap everything in quinoa and kamut as well? He left that part out.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes scored higher than meats, which is to be expected.
It also surprised what an asshole he was to people who ask questions that go against is bias.
on March 16, 2013
at 01:35 PM
I was surprised nuts and seeds were an order of magnitude more nutrient dense than any non-organ animal (seafood, pork, beef, eggs & dairy), especially since they are high in fat, which would tend to lower nutrient density.
Herbs & Spices seem over valued in the scores from a practical consumption perspective, since natural quantities will be small. I wonder if there's a way to account for that.
I was also surprised cacao was so nutrient dense, just after nuts and seeds. I read this to be pure cacao, as opposed to chocolate, which adds cocoa butter. Probably similar to the reason spices score so high.
After adjusting for water and fiber (caloric weight score), I was surprised legumes were more nutrient dense than any non-organ animal (seafood, pork, beef, eggs & dairy). Noting that soy, cashews, peanuts topped the list and I didn't see some in the tables like lentils and black beans (did they score too low). Kidney beans were graphed appearing fairly nutrient dense, but I didn't see it listed in the tables ... maybe I missed it, or a discrepency.
Fruits scored poorly (even worse after adjusting for water and fiber), but Mat commented after the presentation, "I seem to being doing well with more fruit". So some anecdotal evidence there's more to foods than the nutrients accounted for in this analysis.
I think one interesting thing to keep in mind is while many can benefit from increasing the nutrient density of the foods they eat, it isn't necessary for all foods to be nutrient rich, and in fact may be more healthful to eat a few lower nutrient, easy to digest foods.
I cannot really say it changes my personal diet, but it was interesting to see.