Current regulations, crafted more than 20 years ago during the advent of low-fat diets, allow products like fat-free pudding cups and sugary cereal to be labeled as healthy, but not whole foods such as nuts, avocados and salmon, which have come to be considered sources of nutritious fats.
The FDA is supposed to be a trusted organization, but many people who have even the remotest inkling of basic nutrition are scratching their heads over the agency’s official definition of “healthy.” You don’t need an advanced science degree to wonder how a highly processed cereal made in a factory could be considered healthier than a fruit plucked directly from a tree, but that’s exactly what the FDA would have you believe. That’s right: according to the FDA, Frosted Flakes are healthier than avocados!
According to the FDA’s definition, avocados are not considered healthy because 1 ounce contains 4.5 grams of fat. It doesn’t matter to them that it is the “good” type of fat. Likewise, almonds, with their 14 grams of fat per ounce, and salmon, with its 11 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, are also considered unhealthy foods despite their well-documented health benefits.
Currently, companies can use the term “healthy” as a nutrient content claim if the food fits certain criteria for levels of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Generally, snacks like Kind’s bars can’t have more than 3 grams of fat and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving.
FDA isn’t reconsidering how healthy. On the FDA’s part, re-evaluating the term shows the evolving understanding of nutrition in the U.S., a conversation that’s become more focused on overall health and well-being than specific nutrient levels.