Thought for Food: Categories Matter, “Essential” Foods Don’t

QuestionAre there any specific foods you recommend for a healthy diet?

Marion Nestle: I don’t think about food that way. I think about food in categories. I think it’s important that we eat a balanced diet and that means lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Everybody knows that diets that are based on those are associated with good health and then meat and dairy, if you eat meat and dairy products, you just want to eat a lot of different kinds of foods. I don’t think there’s any one food that anybody needs. I can’t think of a single food that – a single, single food, that is absolutely essential. If you look at human diets across the entire world, you see the diets vary enormously and dependent on what’s available locally. So, the whole business about, you need to eat this food or you shouldn’t eat that, that’s all about marketing. It’s not about health.

Certain foods often become trumped as dietary "must-haves," but as the nutritionist warns, these claims are motivated by marketing, not health.

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