What Foods Do Nutritionists Think are Healthy?

Ask the Nutritionists

Hundreds of nutritionists as well as 2,000 other Americans were polled about which foods they think are healthy. The results showed some shared beliefs but also some huge differences in perception of healthy foods.

Who Knows What?

The New York Times recently conducted its own study on the perception of healthy foods. The purpose was to get a consensus of which foods nutritionists and “regular folk” regard as healthy. For the study, the NY Times enlisted a consult group, who in turn polled 2,000 Americans. The participants were asked to rate 52 common foods in order from unhealthy to healthy. Additionally, over 600 nutritionists from the American Society for Nutrition were asked to do the same.

The results showed how nutritionists’ belief in the healthiness of certain foods varied from what the average American believes. Even some of the nutritionists, however, were split on particular foods. The consensus on butter, for example, was varied for everyone polled. The same mixed feelings occurred on the topic of whole milk and red meat.

The mixed reviews on these three specific foods point out that their nutritional value must be inconclusive. A prominent nutritionist Dariush Mozaffarian explains, “…we only know about 40 or 50 percent of what we need to know about nutrition.”

What Everyone Thinks is Good

The Americans surveyed agreed with the nutritionists on the healthfulness of several common foods. Oranges, apples, and avocados ranked among the highest in goodness. Spinach, kale, olive oil, and almonds were top choices too. Turkey and chicken made the highs ranks as well.

What Everyone Thinks is Bad

Regular soda, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream were deemed the unhealthiest by everyone polled. Bacon, white bread, diet soda, and beer were just a couple of percentage points higher on the list, but still extremely low in good nutrition. On a scale from zero to 100 percent, hamburgers ranked at only 30% healthy for all those surveyed.

Here’s Where We Can Learn

Assuming these 600-plus nutritionists understand good food value, here’s information from which we can learn. The study points out that granola bars are deemed healthy by fewer than 30% of the experts. About 70% of the public, however, believed the bars to be healthy. Here’s the difference. The nutritionists know how much added sugars are in the popular food. We may not know because labels can misrepresent.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently agreed to review its labeling standards. Some foods we think are healthy simply are not. And, unfortunately, we have been misguided for years.

The nutritionists expressed that sushi, wine, shrimp, hummus, tofu, and quinoa are all excellent. The public didn’t seem aware of the high levels of nutritional value in these foods. Perhaps it’s because they are not “common”—yet. The other take away from this study is that most everyone agreed that “no special rules or restrictions” comprised the best diet. Balance and moderation are key.

For other articles on diet and nutrition, check out www.GetThrive.com


Best in Pregnancy and Adolescence!

Adolescents who eat more fruit have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Pregnant women who consume more fruit have babies with higher IQs. These are the results of two, new, separate studies.

Avoiding Breast Cancer

One recently published study touted the benefits of eating fruit. A lower risk of developing breast cancer was one discovery. Tens of thousands of questionnaires were given to women between the ages of 27 and 44 in regards to their diets. The first questionnaire was given in 1991 and then another in 1998. The latest tally of these showed that over 1400 women did not develop breast cancer. Those women consumed a large amount of fruit during their adolescence (ages 13-18).

“Higher early adulthood intake of fruits (and vegetables rich in ‘a’ carotene) was associated with a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer.” Apples, bananas, and grapes consumed in higher amounts were most beneficial to adolescents. Oranges and kale proved to further reduce risk when consumed during early adulthood.

IQ Booster for Baby

A recent Canadian study shows that babies in the womb benefit from their mom’s fruit consumption. The University of Alberta tested approximately 700 children in Edmonton. Pregnant moms who ate more fruit during pregnancy had babies who scored higher on the test. The infants’ developmental levels and IQs were higher than the babies of pregnant moms who ate little-to-no fruit. The children of expectant moms who ate six or seven servings of fruit daily actually ranked over five points higher.

The lead researcher, Mandhane, collaborated with another scientist who studies genetic similarities between humans and fruit flies. Although they’re extremely different species, flies have 85 percent of the genes used in human brain function. Fruit flies, in particular, have been used as models to study human learning and memory. So, it was pretty fascinating to find that flies whose mothers were given fruit juice also had better memories.

Not Too Sweet

Both studies clearly show the health advantages from consuming fruit, especially during adolescence and when pregnant. Experts, however, warn of overconsumption. Excessive amounts of fruit can be too much sugar, even if it’s naturally obtained. Pregnant women may put themselves at risk for developing gestational diabetes or having an overweight baby. Six servings a day are plenty to reap fruits’ benefits. For more studies on healthy foods, check out www.GetThrive.com.