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Here's What Nutritionists Actually Consider Healthy Food

A recent survey reveals the foods nutritionists think are healthy vs. the foods regular people think are healthy.

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We can all pretty much agree that soda is unhealthy and kale is healthy. But there are lots of foods on the soda-to-kale continuum whose nutritional value is murky.

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For example, what is the deal with granola? Frozen yogurt? Red meat? And are you supposed to eat butter or never eat it?

To answer all this, the New York Times hired a polling firm to ask hundreds of nutritionists (all members of the American Society for Nutrition) whether they considered certain foods healthy. The firm also asked the same question of "a representative sample of the American electorate."

It turns out that there's some agreement and a fair amount of disagreement about the nutritiousness of the foods we eat every day.

For example, some of the foods that experts think are unhealthy AF, the public actually thinks are healthy.

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For example, regular people surveyed overwhelmingly thought that frozen yogurt, granola, granola bars, and orange juice were healthy, while nutritionists surveyed overwhelmingly thought that they were not.

The article points out that these foods have lots of added sugar and that it's only recently that the effect of added sugar on public health has come under so much scrutiny. (It was in May 2016 that the FDA announced that new nutrition labels would show the amount of added sugar per serving of a food.)

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And then there are foods that are considered healthy by nutritionists, but the public doesn't seem to realize their value.

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The majority of nutritionists thought these foods were healthy, while only some of the regular people surveyed agreed.

And, of course, there are some foods that everyone can agree are generally healthy.

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This included whole foods free of added sugar that also happen to be a good source of protein, carbs, or healthy fats.

And everyone seemed to more or less agree that certain foods are unhealthy.

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Foods that are highly processed or high in added sugar or calories seemed to ping everyone's unhealthy radar.

And since it wouldn't be a conversation about nutrition unless things got ~murky~, there are a bunch of foods that people had mixed feelings about.

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Just over half of each group surveyed described the following foods as healthy: pork chops, steak, whole milk, cheddar cheese, and popcorn.

As the authors point out, most of these foods contain saturated fat, which has historically had a bum rap. But because newer research has more or less exonerated saturated fat as wholly terrible, it makes sense that there would be some confusion about its healthfulness.

Check out their results in full detail (with numbers and a cool infographic) here.

So, are you surprised that certain foods made either group's list?

Tell us more in the comments!

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