Can foods be healthy?

There is a reasonable argument made by Micheal Ruhlman that it is not an accurate statement to say if a food is healthy or unhealthy. Health and healthiness is a measurement of the well being of the organism. Foods are merely elements that contribute to the overall health of that organism.

Thus, food itself can't be healthy. The plant or animal from which the food was produced from can be healthy. Choices like diet and exercise can result in health. However, the food itself may not be considered healthy. Instead, it could be nutritious. It could be used to supplement health as a part of a healthy diet.

The FDA is currently welcoming comments from the food industry to derive a clearer definition of "healthy". As of September 2016, the current draft guidance is that manufacturers can label foods as "healthy" if they:

  1. Are not low in total fat, but have a fat profile makeup of predominantly mono and polyunsaturated fats; or
  2. contain at least ten percent of the Daily Value (DV) per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) of potassium or vitamin D.

The FDA is expected to release new guidance on labeling of "healthy food" later this year.

Footnotes

No food is healthy. Not even kale.

"Healthy" on Food Labeling

FDA to Redefine "Healthy" Claim for Food Labeling


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