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Published: June 8, 2024

What is a “Healthy” Food? The Answer Will Surprise You

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What does “healthy” food mean to you? Is it raw? Plant based? Low fat? Low sugar? “Clean?” The answer could be different for everyone—and according to Integrative Nutrition’s core concept of bio-individuality, it wouldn’t be wrong either.

For the Food and Drug Administration, a “healthy” label means, in general, a food that’s low in fat, NPR reported back in May. However, the organization will be reviewing these standards after a citizen petition was launched by KIND, the company that produces KIND bars, stating that food high in fat isn’t always unhealthy.

Through research, we now know that higher-fat foods, like nuts, avocado, and certain oils, aren’t necessarily unhealthy when consumed in moderation. But we also know, thanks to a recent poll reported by The New York Times, the American public—even the experts—aren’t on the same page when it comes to what is and isn’t healthy.

The newspaper worked with polling group The Morning Consult to find out which foods consumers consider healthy versus the responses of more than 600 nutritionists associated with the American Society for Nutrition.

In an extensive story published earlier this month, the Times  showed a shocking discrepancy in opinion.

For instance, 71% of the public interviewed considered a granola bar to be a healthy snack, while only 28% of nutritionists agreed. On the other hand, 90% of nutritionists gave their approval of hummus, compared to only 66% of the public. The inconsistency here is understandable from a nutritionist’s perspective—a granola bar often contains a large amount of added sugars that the average consumer may be unaware of, an issue of misinformation the FDA is hoping to remedy through new nutrition labels that require added sugars to be listed. And hummus, a traditional Middle Eastern chickpea and tahini-based spread that’s rich in protein, only gained popularity in the United States in the last five years or so, the Washington Post reported

Interestingly enough, even the nutritionists couldn’t agree on the health status of certain foods, including cheddar cheese and popcorn, which where approved by only 57% and 61%, respectively.

The takeaway?

This article shed light on how different the concept of eating healthy is to each person, even experts in nutrition. As Health Coaches, our job is to help our clients find the way of eating that makes them feel satisfied and energetic, whether that means a vegan diet, a Mediterranean diet, or a little of everything in moderation. 

This is why Integrative Nutrition stands by its teaching that all bodies are unique, and there’s no one size fits all diet. 

Read the full New York Times article here.

How do you define a “healthy” food? Share in the comments below!


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