Healthy Food: Scientists Create Surprising Ranking

Which foods are healthy? And which one is the healthiest? In a recently published study, US researchers have for the first time developed a scientific method for sorting healthy foods in a ranking.

Healthy food: Scientists create a surprising ranking

In a recent study, a US research team from William Peterson University in New Jersey has ranked the healthiest foods in the world – for the first time based on a broad analysis of scientifically defined content and nutrient properties, the so-called nutrient density scores.

Which foods are healthy?

Almost every day, consumers are confronted with current food studies or tips from nutrition experts and consultants based more or less on them, who tell us what is currently considered healthy. Because just as often as the sources of nutrition tips, the foods praised as healthy seem to vary, which are advertised to us consumers as an indispensable part of our nutrition plan. But what are healthy foods, which are healthier, and which are the healthiest?

Some of the results that have now been published are surprising. Many of the foods listed at the top of the ranking are probably less of a natural part of our nutritional plan. And others, which in turn are considered a natural part of healthy nutrition, are not even listed in the ranking due to a lack of points. Lemons, lettuce, spinach? PraxisVITA has summarized the results of the study for you and shows you healthy foods in an exciting picture gallery.

Healthy Foods: How the Researchers Decided

Creating a ranking for healthy food is not easy. The researchers examined and evaluated foods in the “Powerhouse fruits and vegetables” (PFV) category based on 17 defined nutrient qualifications – the so-called nutrient density scores. Based on previous studies, foods in this category are considered healthy for humans. Foods in the category Due to their ingredients, “Powerhouse fruits and vegetables” (PFV) contain certain properties with which, from a medical point of view, the risk of, for example, chronic diseases and nutrition-related diseases can be avoided or reduced.

Based on this nutritional category, consumption recommendations are issued by doctors or producers, for example – either for a fundamentally healthy diet or to reduce certain risks of illness for high-risk patients.

Specifically, the “nutrient density” of individual foods was measured per 100-gram portion and in a second step, the nutrients found in this way were individually evaluated about the respective “energy density” and the phytochemical function value for the human body.

The problem of a food ranking

The problem with such an assessment of healthy foods has been to determine the exact properties that a PFV food must contain and in what composition for it to be considered a healthy part of our diet concerning its health benefits. In addition, the range of all possible nutrient qualifications – such as vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and folic acid in fruit or vegetables – in the food was considered too large and their effects too vague to be summarized in a single high score. So far, rankings could only be meaningfully implemented about individual active ingredients – such as vitamins or iron content.

Therefore, in the past, foods were only classified as either ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ based on their effect on certain diseases or physical weaknesses. The aim of the study that has now been published is to create a food ranking that sorts and evaluates foods based on all their ingredients and independently of certain ailments according to their positive effects on health.

Healthy foods: surprising ranking

So it happened that prominent representatives of supposedly healthy foods failed in the study about the defined “powerhouse criteria”. Raspberries, tangerines, cranberries, garlic, onions, and blueberries were not included in the ranking for healthy foods after their ingredients were evaluated.

However, this does not mean that these foods are unhealthy or have no health-promoting aspect, but only that they received too few points to be included in the ranking, taking into account the nutrient qualifications considered in the study.

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Written by Crystal Nelson

I am a professional chef by trade and a writer at night! I have a bachelors degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and have completed many freelance writing classes as well. I specialized in recipe writing and development as well as recipe and restaurant blogging.

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