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What's Healthy? Experts Rarely Agree on Foods

What's Healthy? Experts Rarely Agree on Foods

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Sunday, 25 September 2016 07:33 PM

Is popcorn a healthy whole food? What about pizza, sushi, or frozen yogurt?

With the explosion of nutritional research conducted in recent decades, you’d think there would be at least some agreement on which foods are healthy. But, sadly, you’d be wrong.
Experts rarely agree on what foods — and how much you should eat — are the best for your heart, body, and mind, The New York Times reports.

In part, that’s because what’s considered “healthy” has changed in recent years without a great deal of consensus, particularly between consumers an nutritionists.

To get to the bottom of the issue, the times collaborated with the Morning Consult, a media and polling firm, and surveyed hundreds of nutritionists, asking them whether they thought certain food items (about 50) were healthy. The Morning Consult also surveyed a sample of American consumers, asking the same thing.

The results uncovering “a surprising diversity of opinion, even among experts,” The Times reports.

“Yes, some foods, like kale, apples and oatmeal, are considered ‘healthy’ by nearly everyone. And some, like soda, French fries, and chocolate chip cookies, are not. But in between, some foods appear to benefit from a positive public perception, while others befuddle the public and experts alike. [We’re looking at you, butter.]”

Among the findings:

  • Consumers tended to score most of the 52 common foods they were asked to rate "healthier" than the experts. For instance, more than 70 percent of ordinary Americans described granola bars as healthy, but less than a third of nutritional experts did.
  • Other foods considered more healthy by consumers than the experts: Granola, frozen yogurt, a SlimFast shake (mostly because of high sugar content), coconut oil, orange juice, and American cheese.
  • Several foods hailed by experts as healthy choices were not believed to be so by most consumers — including quinoa, a “superfood” grain heralded as a great nutritional option by nearly 90 percent of nutritionists, but only 58 percent of consumers.
  • In addition, tofu, sushi, hummus, wine, and shrimp were all rated as significantly more healthful by nutritionists than by the public — perhaps, in part, because of mixed messages in press coverage of the healthfulness of foods.
  • Foods that majorities of both experts and the public seem to agree are healthy include popcorn, pork chips, whole milk, steak, and cheddar cheese — reflecting new research that has found certain fats in foods are not unhealthy.
  • Nearly everyone also agreed that oranges, apples, oatmeal, and poultry could safely be described as healthy
  • In addition, there was consensus that chocolate chip cookies, bacon, white bread, hamburgers, beef jerky, and soda (diet and regular) could not be considered healthy.

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Despite an explosion of nutritional research there is little agreement on which foods are healthy among experts.
healthy, food, confusion
Sunday, 25 September 2016 07:33 PM
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