A nutritarian is a person who has a preference for foods that are high in micronutrients.
The term “nutritarian” was coined by Joel Fuhrman. In his book, Eat to Live, he offers this health equation while describing the nutritarian approach to health:
Health = Nutrients/Calories (or H= N/C for short).
In other words: the more nutrients you consume per calorie, the healthier you will be.
Nutrients in the numerator (top part of the equation) include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Since these are found in small quantities in food, they are considered to be micronutrients. Caloric sources in the denominator include the macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. We need to meet our micronutrient needs without consuming excessive calories.
A high N/C diet is also called “nutrient-dense” or “nutrient-rich.”
In the Standard American Diet (SAD), about 6% of the total caloric intake comes from nutrient-rich foods.
Nutritarians eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, onions, mushrooms, whole grains, beans, and berries, and particularly consume leafy greens, which are the most nutrient-dense foods. A nutritarian strives to consume at least 90% of their diet from these foods.
Nutritarians do not necessarily exclude animal products. Many nutritarians do choose to be vegan (excluding all animal products). Many vegetarians, however, are not nutritarian, if they frequently consume products containing processed grains, oils, sugars, or salt.
It takes a bit of education to become a nutritarian. One must learn the relative nutrient density of various foods. For instance, many people are surprised to learn that bok choy has more calcium per calorie than whole milk, and even than “2% fat” milk. The same is true for many other leaf greens.
The first nutritarian restaurant Pyramid Bistro, opened in Aspen, Colorado in 2011, by renowned chef Martin Oswald.
The first Nutritarian Food Festival was held August 2011 in Aspen. Winning recipes included Chef Miles Angelo’s Yoga Roll with swiss chard and apple sesame dressing, Chef John Little’s Freekoto Cannelloni, and Chef Randy Placeres’ Yerba Matte with veggies, berries, ginger and nuts.