A recent study reveals that the “healthy” granola we eat every morning may not be as wonderful for us as we always thought. Food Compass is a “nutrient profiling system” developed by researchers at Boston’s Tufts University to rate the nutritional value of different food items on a scale from 1 to 10. More than eight thousand foods and beverages were studied for three years using “state-of-the-art technology” to determine their healthiness. The items were ranked from zero to one hundred, with one hundred being the healthiest.
Vegetables and fruits, which are whole meals, scored very highly (100 for spinach), while processed and quick foods, such as a McDonald’s cheeseburger with all the fixings, scored very poorly (8 out of 100). While the rating is easy to understand, the surprising results occurred when “healthy” items were compared to ones often considered “unhealthy.”
As a delicious treat, the chocolate ice cream with nuts garnered 35 points, but the coconut and chocolate granola bar received only 15. As one of the study’s co-authors, Professor Dariush Mozaffarian, explained, granola’s lower ranking is due to the fact that it is made of “primarily refined grain and sugar,” whereas ice cream is a dairy product that contains protein and minerals.
Notably, the “healthier alternative” to ice cream, frozen yoghurt, only received a 23. Although an egg-based breakfast seems like a safe bet, the Food Compass ranked an omelette at only 51 out of 100, while the breakfast cereal Cheerios earned 95. Eggs were found to be high in protein and contain a variety of minerals, however, the study concluded that most prior research has showed them to be largely neutral for risk of major diseases. While eggs are a better option for breakfast than highly processed cereals like Cornflakes (rated 16), they still fall short of the whole grains and fiber found in plain instant porridge oats (ranked 75).