It's Not Enough to Eat Healthy Foods

A healthy diet has two equally important parts: plenty of healthy foods and not too many unhealthy ones. New research suggests that we're getting it only half right. Nutrition Diva explains.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read


It's Not Enough to Eat Healthy FoodsA recent study found that global consumption of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables has gone up over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, our consumption of unhealthy foods like sweetened beverages and processed foods went up faster.

And here’s the kicker: When it comes to the overall quality of our diets, our bad choices are dragging us down faster than our healthier habits are helping us up.

Not surprisingly, wealthy countries eat more junk than poor ones. But it might surprise you to learn that, as a result, low-income nations like Chad and Mali have higher quality diets, on average, than high-income countries like the U.S.  Of course, averages don’t tell the whole story. But here is a take home lesson:

It’s not enough to eat more healthy foods. You also have to limit unhealthy foods if you want to improve the overall quality of your diet. A sprinkle of chia seeds doesn't turn a donut into a healthy breakfast any more than a glass of green juice cancels out a cheese-stuffed pizza crust. 

For that matter, even healthy foods can be eaten in unhealthy amounts. Most of you reading this are doing a great job - but this latest study is a good reminder for all of us! For a quick review of some common nutritional blind spots, see:

Junk Food in Disguise

Biggest Nutrition Traps, Part 2: Quality v. Quantity

Are Your Nutrition Priorities in the Right Order

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.