Ice cream lovers, rejoice!
A new study from Tufts University in Massachusetts suggests that ice cream is a healthier choice than a multigrain bagel and other foods like saltine crackers.
In the research, experts at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts developed a "Food Compass" to rank any type of food from 1 to 100 based on nutrition; the higher the number, the healthier the food.
When comparing foods, the study gave an ice cream cone with nuts and chocolate ice cream a 37, while a multigrain bagel with raisins received a 19 and saltine crackers a 7.
While chocolate-covered almonds and sweet-potato chips might not be surprising healthy choices, other options that ranked high are plain Fritos chips, which were given a 55, and whole grain frozen french toast, which was scored at 35. Nonfat cappuccino was ranked at 69.
"Once you get beyond 'eat your veggies, avoid soda,' the public is pretty confused about how to identify healthier choices in the grocery store, cafeteria, and restaurant," said Dariush Mozaffarian, the study's lead and corresponding author, dean for policy of the Friedman School. "Consumers, policy makers, and even industry are looking for simple tools to guide everyone toward healthier choices."
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When it comes to the categories measured, snacks and sweets garnered the lowest ranking with an average of 16.4. It's also no surprise vegetables and fruits — along with legumes, nuts and seeds — are the highest. Starchy vegetables received an average of 43.2.
Sugar-sweetened sodas came in with an average score of 27.6, while 100 percent fruit and vegetable drinks came in at 67.
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According to the study, the healthiest meat is seafood, which was given an average of 67, followed by poultry and beef, whose average scores were 42.67 and 24.9, respectively.
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"With its publicly available scoring algorithm, Food Compass can provide a nuanced approach to promoting healthy food choices–helping guide consumer behavior, nutrition policy, scientific research, food industry practices, and socially based investment decisions," said last author Renata Micha, who did this work as a faculty member at the Friedman School and is now at the University of Thessaly.