Researchers Develop ‘Food Compass’ That Rank Foods From Healthy To Least

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : October 19, 2021

A food compass has been developed by researchers that attribute ranks to foods from most to least healthy, based on 9 factors.

Deciding what food is good and what is not an easy task. Tufts University in Massachusetts’ researchers made it easier for us by developing a tool that ranks around eight thousand food and beverages, which tells us how healthy they are.

Researchers Develop A ‘Food Compass’ That Can Rank Foods From Most Healthy To Least

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy dean and the lead author of this study, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian said that people are confused about identifying healthy foods from unhealthy ones. All they know is to eat vegetables and avoid soda. He added that policymakers, industries, and consumers are trying to find simpler tools that can guide people towards healthy food choices.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research and was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and a food company called Danone.

Researchers Develop ‘Food Compass’ That Rank Foods From Healthy To Least

The tool called ‘Food Compass’ ranks food considering nine factors. These include- protein, phytochemicals, specific lipids, vitamins, nutrition ratio, minerals, processing, additives, and food ingredients.

The system ranks foods from 1-100. 1 is the least healthy and 100 is the healthiest.

Researchers of the study said that foods like raspberries which have a score higher than 70 should be encouraged.

Foods like sweet potato chips, scoring between 31-69 should be consumed in moderation.

Food like noodles that score below 30 should be avoided.

The University of South Florida’s assistant professor in public health, Lauri Wright, said that the food compass may help us to understand what is healthier but it’s not perfect.

Talking to Healthline, Wright said that she praises the tool that has been developed, and categorizing food is helpful. What’s even better is that instead of one, they’ve taken into consideration many factors.

She added that there are so many health messages that consumers get confused. Some tell them to cut off fats while others tell them to choose healthy fats. She said this compass was good but it doesn’t account for people’s individual diets.

In this system, sweet desserts and snacks have scored lower than 16. The foods that scored the highest were fruits, which were higher than 74. Vegetables scored 69 while seeds, nuts, and legumes scored an average of 68.

Almost every raw fruit scored a perfect 100.

Ph.D. and University of California Los Angeles Medical Center’s senior dietitian, Dana Hunnes said that all fresh fruits and vegetables that are naturally bright would score 100 and each of them should be eaten freely.

She said that it is difficult to overeat as vegetables and fresh fruits have higher fiber content and the content of water in them makes them a filling food. She said that no one gains weight by eating too many fruits and vegetables.

Wright said there are several factors that tell us how healthy a particular food is, one being nutrient density.

She said that nutrient density is the level of nutrients in the ratio of content of calories. Foods with a high nutrient density like vegetables and fruits contain more nutrients and fewer calories. She added that foods like candy and soda contain lots of calories and few nutrients.

Wright said that choosing healthy foods can depend on a person’s individual health choices.

She said that people should define what their health goals are by observing their current lifestyle and habits. It depends on what kind of gold they have, if they want to gain weight or increase their energy level, that will help them choose what is healthy for them.

She said that she advises people to consult a dietitian that can give people individual plans to work on.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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