Scoring Your Food
Lobster: 36 vs. Oysters: 81
Both these seafoods are low in fat and high in protein, but the oyster owes its higher score to its rich omega-3 content. Lobster is also a loser for the amount of sodium it contains.
Green Giant Cut Green Beans: 52 vs. Del Monte Blue Lake Cut Green Beans No Salt Added: 100
You’d think that two cans of beans would rank about the same, but additives and high sodium content make Green Giant the less nutritious option.
Amish Kitchens Kluski Noodles Extra Thick Ribbon: 11 vs. Barilla Plus Pasta Spaghetti Multigrain: 91
The high fiber content of whole grains, plus a low number of additives, helps boost Barilla Plus Pasta, while refined grains and extra ingredients such as eggs put Amish Kitchens Kluski noodles at the bottom.
Turkey breast, skin on: 31 vs. Flank steak (beef ): 34
A high level of iron helps beef edge into the lead over turkey breast (take off the skin, however, and turkey gobbles ahead to 48 points). In general, the scores of meats, because of their high saturated fat content, tend not to go above the low 50s.
Rold Gold Pretzel Tiny Twists Fat Free: 10 vs. Doritos Tortilla Chips Cool Ranch: 23
Doritos score better than expected because they contain both less salt and more fiber than pretzels.
Coconuts: 24 vs. Bananas: 91
While both fruits are especially high in fiber, bananas are tops in potassium and coconuts lose points for their high saturated fat content.
Keebler Wheatables Hearty Multi-Grain: 4 vs. Ryvita Rye & Oat Bran All Natural Crispbread: 87
According to Katz’s team, crackers have some of the most wildly differing scores. Ryvita gets high marks because it is high in whole grains and fiber, and also — unlike the Wheatables — it lacks harmful fats and is relatively low in additives.
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Especially high in cancer-fighting vitamin C, these tart berries are also a good source of vitamin A, calcium, and iron. The purple variety contains almost 50 percent more antioxidants than blueberries.
One fruit contains a whopping 11 to 17 grams of fiber. A 2005 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry reported that avocados contain enough lutein to stop cancer growth in a lab experiment. Lutein also contributes to eye health.
3. Ostrich meat
It comes from a bird but tastes more like red meat, and it’s much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than either chicken or steak. It’s also an excellent source of zinc, selenium, and iron.
This is totally edible from skin to seeds, if it’s ripe, and so is sometimes called the apple of the tropics. This aromatic fruit is a great source of potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check. Guava has won praise from the USDA for being rich in antioxidants.
5. Arctic char
A close but milder tasting relative of salmon, this fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids (shown in Columbia University research to help prevent colorectal cancer). Arctic char is also exceptionally high in protein.
A single ounce contains more than the U.S. recommended daily amount of omega-3s. Most nuts are also great sources of cardio-protective monounsaturated fats and hypertension-fighting L-arginine. A study published in the British Medical Journal linked eating them regularly to a 35 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
7. French lentils
High in fiber (one-third your U.S. RDA in a single half-cup serving), lentils are great for regulating blood sugar and preventing diabetes, and make a great meat substitute. French lentils (they’re green) are more delicate and peppery than the usual supermarket lentil offering.
Originally published in MORE magazine, April 2009.