Study: Why many people think their food is healthier than it is

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Most people have no idea how healthy their diet is, according to a study by the United States Department of Agriculture and Central Arkansas University.

According to the study authors, 85% of the approximately 10,000 participants rated their diet poorly. What experts have classified as unhealthy, many have classified as healthy food.

Most of the study participants lacked whole grains, legumes, and seafood to eat healthily.

Most people tend to be wrong when it comes to assessing how well they eat. Especially if you plan on eating a particularly healthy diet, according to a study presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in June.

Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture and Central Arkansas University looked at data from 9,757 American adults who were asked to complete a diet survey and rate their diets on a “poor” scale. to “excellent”. The researchers then assessed the participants’ eating habits, awarding points for consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins, as well as the amount of processed foods, refined grains, sugar and saturated fat.

They found that 85% of the participants rated their diet poorly. Almost all of the subjects estimated that their diet was healthier than it actually was. “Most adults overestimate their eating habits,” Jessica Thomson, lead author of the study and epidemiologist research at the US Department of Agriculture, said in a news release.

Many people eat too few whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and seafood

About 71% of the participants rated their diet as “good”, “very good” or “excellent”, 6% of the participants rated their diet as “bad”. Experts, on the other hand, rated only 12% of the participants’ eating habits as healthy and rated 70% of the diets as low as possible, ie “very bad”. As a result, the researchers found that people were more likely to be right when they rated their eating habits as bad.

What is striking about the study results: Participants often lacked wholegrain products, vegetables, legumes, seafood and plant proteins to eat healthily. Instead, many ate too much sodium and saturated protein or high-protein foods.

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Previous research has also shown that diet assessment tools, such as calorie counts, can be very inaccurate. This means that even the information on the packaging or information on calories often does not protect you from unhealthy food. However, according to study author Thomson, it’s unclear why people find it so difficult to properly evaluate their diet. According to her, the possible reasons could be that they do not have the right information or that their wishful thinking predominates.

“Until we understand what people consider when assessing the health of their diet, it will be difficult to determine how to improve self-assessment,” Thomson said in the release.

There is no exact definition of a healthy diet, but there are guidelines

The diets studied in the study were categorized based on how closely they corresponded to American dietary guidelines. Dietary patterns associated with long-term health and well-being include diets rich in plant-based foods such as vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.

Processed foods are constantly linked to negative health outcomes, such as an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and inflammation. Healthier diets include the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on lots of fresh vegetables and fish, the Blue Zones diet, which consists of up to 95% plant-based foods, and the flexible diet, which consists of three or more days a week. meat is avoided.

This text was translated from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.

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