I am fascinated by the most emailed list at nytimes.com, and this week it actually has a food-related article at the top, which comes from their blog “Well.” I am a big fan of Well and its author, Tara Parker-Pope who actually takes the time to respond to many of the comments she gets. And, boy, did this one get some comments.
The 11 Best Foods You’re Not Eating is a neat idea for a piece. Which is why every publication from sea to shining sea has run pieces like this over the past year. Do a quick google search for “10 best foods” and you’ll see what I mean.
First, let me say that this is a fine piece of journalism. We would all probably be healthier if we ate more of these foods. They’re good foods. But if you look at these lists that are out there, you start to notice that they all contain DIFFERENT foods. Some items appear a lot: tomatoes, almonds, fish, cinnamon, fruit, etc., but for the most part the lists actually contain pretty different items. Why is this?
Because eating a wide variety of fresh, brightly colored foods is good for you. That’s pretty much it. These lists always included green, sweet potatoes/pumpkin/squash/carrots, and a variety of colorful fruits.
Color is a good sign that something is filled with nutrients, and nutrients = awesome.
Again, I’m by no means opposed to these lists, but it’s good to remember the underlying lesson of these lists: Vary your diet and fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables (and colorful ones!), and you’ll be just fine.