You have likely seen these “special editions” that TIME puts out on various topics of public interest. They have several out right now on on subjects of exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness, showing the increasing awareness that we need to get better at these things.
I just picked up the TIME-Special Edition “100 Healthiest Foods to Satisfy Your Hunger.” The last part of that title is important. I recently shared that, at least for me, it has been important to learn how to exchange foods that are low in nutritional value compared to their calories (i.e., sugar) for foods higher in nutritional value for their calories (i.e., broccoli). This helps to satisfy hunger, while decreasing calorie consumption, in ways that simply eating fewer donuts just won’t. This is the basic concept TIME worked with in this publication.
Obviously, there are far more than 100 nutritional foods. The team that decided this 100 was focusing on foods that are very high in some nutrient (or many) that our body needs, without carrying a lot of empty calories. This does not mean that all the foods included on their list are low in calories. For example, we now understand better how important healthy fats are to our health, but foods providing those fats will be relatively high-calorie. For example, nuts and avocados provide healthy fats and other nutrients, so both those made the list, in spite of being relatively high in calories for their volume (size).
For each food included in the publication, the authors give an explanation of what it is, how to eat it, and why it is good for us. One of the key observations the authors made is the importance of fiber in both feeling satiated (full) for longer periods of time, and for our gut health. Fiber is actually processed by our digestive system on a different track than most foods, helping us feel full longer, decreasing blood sugar (or insulin) spikes, and feeding the healthy microbes in the track. Many of the foods on the list are there because of their high fiber content. Conversely, one of the common reasons to exclude a food was its tendency to spike blood sugar (simple carbohydrates, like sugar and processed flour).
I had several impressions while I read this publication. First, there were many foods on the list I’ve never had! Second, almost all of my personal go-to’s were on the list (Whew!). Third, even though I am off meat and dairy, there are a lot of heathy foods that are in these categories (Yes, I knew that). Fourth, because the authors throw in some recipes in as well, a person who likes to cook (not me) could have a lot of fun with this publication.
So, without the explanations the authors provide as to why these foods were chosen, here is the list:
Oat Bran Flakes
Whole-fat Greek Yogurt
Clearly, there are many nutrition-packed foods not on this list. And, I have no pending plans to give up all foods that are clearly NOT healthy (I still enjoy dessert, regularly). I have no explanation for this, but if you count the list above, there are only 94 items. Yep. Even the table of contents only has 94 listed. I have no idea what the other 6 were, what happened to them, or how TIME could miss something that obvious. But, even down to a mere 94, if we can’t find a lot of foods on this list that we can enjoy regularly, we’re not trying very hard.