What Are NutriCircles?

NutriCircles were developed at the University of Texas, Austin by Donald R. Davis in collaboration with Roger J. Williams for his book, The Wonderful World Within You (1977, 1998). They show the nutritional quality of foods in a diagram that is far easier to grasp than a long list of numbers. They illustrate how Nature helps us get the nutrients we need, if we cooperate with her in our food choices. Similarly, they help us understand the value of limiting certain man-made foods that unfortunately dominate most Western diets.

NutriCircles are bar graphs bent into a circle so that the bars are like the petals on a flower. Each bar represents one nutrient in a food, and its length shows the amount of that nutrient. The amounts are expressed in amounts per calorie (known as nutrient density). This method shows the basic quality of a food, which does not depend on serving size.

A hypothetical “adequate” food would contain one Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of every nutrient in about 2500 Calories (for adults). So NutriCircles use a standard circle of 1 RDA per 2500 Calories. If a nutrient bar is long enough to reach this standard circle, that nutrient is present in good amounts compared to the calories the food contains. Such bars are blue here. Bars that fall short are red, and so are the nutrient names, which makes it easy to identify bars that are too short to see.

Here we show NutriCircles for three foods--orange, salmon and sugar. Before you look at them, see how well you can guess for each food how many nutrients are adequate compared to calories. Hint: These NutriCircles show 34 nutrients--11 vitamins, 11 minerals (major and trace), 9 amino acids (from protein), and 3 others (fiber and two essential fats).

If you want to see more diagrams, there are 40 NutriCircles (black and white) in The Wonderful World Within You, with a detailed discussion. The book’s publisher also offers free, enhanced software versions of these 40 diagrams (click below). These allow custom colors, changing scales to show major and minor nutrients, comparison of two foods side-by-side, pie charts with more information, and many other features.

Sample NutriCircles




Download free software with 40 NutriCircles from The Wonderful World Within You (Windows 95/98/NT)