Which of These Healthful Foods is the Better Choice?

by Matthew Kadey, MS, RD on Mar 27, 2015

As you know, a food dollar doesn’t stretch nearly as far as it used to. As a result, many of your clients who are eager to eat a clean diet might find themselves increasingly hemming and hawing over which healthy foods to toss into their grocery carts and which to leave behind.

The more nutritious choice isn’t always obvious. Apple or pear? Chicken breast or turkey breast? Well, let’s get ready to rumble. We’re sending similar edibles into the ring to duke it out so we can crown nutrition’s heavyweight champs.

The Battle: Apples vs. Pears

Both of these supermarket staples are good sources of disease-thwarting antioxidants, but pears provide 50% more dietary fiber—a medium fruit delivers 6 grams of fiber. That’s an important advantage, considering that under 10% of Americans meet their daily fiber requirements of 25–38 g a day (Clemens et al. 2012).

Studies suggest that higher intakes of fiber can help to slash the risk for several types of cancer, potentially by helping eliminate toxins from the body (Bradbury, Appleby & Key 2014; Daniel et al. 2013). By promoting satiety and thereby helping to reduce overeating, a high-fiber diet is also thought to play a key role in weight loss. Pears also have an advantage in vitamin K, which is associated with a reduced risk for developing type 2 diabetes (Beulens et al. 2010).

The champ: pears.

The Battle: Whole-Wheat Bread vs. Sprouted Bread

More and more breads made with sprouted ingredients like grains and seeds are, well, sprouting up on store shelves. And the loaves may have a leg up on their competitors. For starters, a recent study by Canadian researchers found that sprouted bread brought about a smaller spike in blood sugar in volunteers than the whole-grain breads that were tested (Mofidi et al. 2012). This could help in the fight against conditions associated with poor blood sugar control, like diabetes and obesity.

Sprouting items like wheat improves their overall nutritional profile, and sprouted breads—like Food for Life— are often richer in protein and fiber. Sprouting is also thought to make foods easier to digest.

The champ: sprouted bread.

The Battle: Turkey Breast vs. Chicken Breast

Both cuts of poultry are virtually free of saturated fat, but ounce for ounce, turkey has more protein, zinc and selenium (a mineral). A study in Diabetes Care found that people with higher levels of selenium were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes (Park et al. 2012).

Another win for Team Turkey Breast: This protein powerhouse contains additional iron, a mineral necessary for delivering oxygen to working muscles to keep energy levels up during exercise.

The champ: turkey breast.

The Battle: Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt

Worthy of a resounding Opa!, Greek-style yogurts are a worthwhile splurge in the dairy aisle. The biggest upside of Greek yogurt is that it provides about twice as much protein as regular yogurt, making it an especially satiating snack with muscle-building benefits.

A recent University of Missouri study found that healthy women who noshed on high-protein yogurt for an afternoon snack felt less hungry and waited longer before seeking out more food than they did after eating a lower-protein yogurt (Douglas et al. 2013). Since a lot of the sweet stuff is removed during the straining process, Greek yogurt typically contains half the sugar of regular yogurt. Like all yogurt with live cultures, Greek contains beneficial bacteria for better gut health. In the name of fair play, however, it should be noted that regular yogurt does have more calcium.

The champ: Greek yogurt.

To read about more food fight pairings such as bison vs. beef, almonds vs. walnuts, kale vs. spinach, and more please see "Food Fight: Clash of the Nutrition Titans" in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Apple and Pear Australia Ltd

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About the Author

Matthew Kadey,  MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD IDEA Author/Presenter

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award-winning journalist, Canada-based dietitian, freelance nutrition writer and recipe developer. He has written for dozens of magazines including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Vegetarian Times and Fitness.