Yogurt: it’s what’s for dinner

Posted by on Aug 15, 2011 | 0 comments

I don’t often write about nutrition, because I’m a big believer that anything tasty and authentic can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. I do get a lot of questions about what people should eat to be healthy or lose weight, though–and I finally have some easy answers to give.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at the diets of 120,000 Americans over a decade or more. Instead of “eat less and exercise more,” which has been the no-nonsense answer given by nutritionists for years, the study suggests a more complex way of looking at food.

As it turns out (surprise surprise), processed and refined foods–including starches of all kinds–tend to make you put on weight, and unprocessed, whole foods tend to make you lose weight. Specifically, the study suggests that to lose weight, you should consider prioritizing foods in this order (eating more servings of what you see at the top and fewer servings of what’s at the bottom):

1. yogurt (which is apparently great for you)
2. nuts
3. fruit
4. whole grains
5. vegetables (not as important as nuts and fruit, as it turns out)

6. butter (not so bad after all)
7. 100% fruit juice (surprisingly unhealthy)
8. refined grains (e.g. white rice or white flour)
9. baked or mashed potatoes
10. processed meats (e.g. bacon or even my beloved prosciutto)
11. unprocessed red meats
12. sugar-sweetened drinks
13. potato chips
14. french fries (as bad as it gets!)

What didn’t make the list, to my surprise? Cheese! Apparently there’s a lot of variability in cheeses, and overall, there’s not a clear connection one way or another between weight and cheese consumption. This doesn’t mean you should go crazy with it–but it does suggest that you should serve it on whole-grain crackers, alongside some dried fruit, and maybe cut back a little on the prosciutto while you’re at it…