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Reality Bites

Americans are very confused about what constitutes “health foods”
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table
Granola

If you think granola and coconut oil are healthy, don’t worry—most Americans do, too. But according to nutritionists, you and your fellow citizens are sorely mistaken. And that’s not the only thing you’re confused about.

A survey published yesterday by the New York Times reveals a surprising gap between the way the general population and nutritionists perceive certain foods. Though everyone agrees that certain items—oatmeal, spinach and carrots— are healthy, other foods deemed healthy by the American public are shunned by members of the American Society for Nutrition.

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Granola fans, we’re sorry. According to nutritionists, neither granola itself nor the bars are as good for you as you think.

Here’s a breakdown of the most divisive foods, and the percentage of Americans and nutritionists who think they’re healthy.

Granola: 71 percent of Americans vs. 28 percent of nutritionists

Granola bars: 80 percent vs. 40 percent

Coconut oil: 72 percent vs. 37 percent

Frozen yogurt: 66 percent vs. 32 percent

Orange juice: 78 percent vs. 62 percent

Americans are mistaking these foods as healthier than they are and also misjudging how healthy other foods may be.

Across the board, nutritionists consider the following foods healthier than most Americans think they are:

Tofu: 57 percent of Americans vs. 87 percent of nutritionists

Sushi: 49 percent vs. 75 percent

Hummus: 66 percent vs. 90 percent

While you’re lamenting your granola bars and trying to come around to tofu, take comfort in perhaps the best news of all from this recent survey: Most nutritionists consider wine healthy (50 percent of Americans vs. 70 percent of nutritionists).

That leaves a lot of catching up to do. Cheers!

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