Snack guide

Scientists rank 15 favorite American foods by health

How good is pizza for you, really?

Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski via Giphy

Shutterstock

It helps to know how nutritious your food is when you’re looking to improve your diet.

Getty Images

One way nutritionists visualize a food’s “healthiness” is by accounting for its many characteristics, such as vitamin and fat content.

Then, they give it a numerical ranking based on its total nutritional value.

Ben Tuber via Giphy

This ranking technique is called a nutrient profiling system (NPS) and can help consumers make more holistic food decisions.

In an October 14 study published in the journal Nature Food, researchers created a new NPS called Food Compass to account for nutritional factors that are often overlooked.

That includes additives, phytochemicals, and how processed a food is.

Getty Images

Shutterstock

The researchers analyzed a database of 8,032 popular American dishes and gave them each a nutritional ranking of 1 to 100.

“Once you get beyond ‘eat your veggies, avoid soda,’ the public is pretty confused about how to identify healthier choices in the grocery store, cafeteria, and restaurant.”

Dariush Mozaffarian, lead study author

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Foods with a ranking between 70-100 should be consumed the most, while foods ranked 31-69 should be eaten in moderation.

Anything with a ranking of 30 and below should be avoided when possible.

Here are 15 foods ranked in the study, from most to least healthy:

Shutterstock

15. Raspberries

If you eat them raw, these bright fruits get a perfect score of 100.

Animation Domination/GifNews via Giphy

14. Almonds

When salted, these nuts get a score of 91.

Shutterstock

13. Vegetable curry

Earns a solid score of 90.

Shutterstock

12. Tuna Salad

When prepared with light mayo, earns a score of 73.

Monterey Bay Aquarium via Giphy

11. Coffee

Including nonfat cappuccinos, this staple earns a score of 73.

Shutterstock

10. Sweet Potato Chips

This sweet-and-salty snack earns a score of 69.

Shutterstock

9. Chicken breast

If it's grilled and has no skin, this protein source earns a score of 61.

DLGNCE via Giphy

8. Turkey or Chicken Burger

These each have a score of 50 when topped with condiments on a whole wheat bun.

Shutterstock

7. PB & J

On white bread, this sandwich earns a score of 35.

Shutterstock

6. Grilled Cheese

This American staple gets a score of 32 when it’s made with cheddar cheese and whole wheat bread.

Shaking Food Gifs via Giphy

5. Pizza

If you’re snacking on a slice with thick crust and extra meat, this would earn a score of 25.

Shutterstock

4. Cornflakes

This popular cereal gets a score of 19.

Israel Sebastian/Moment/Getty Images

3. Cheeseburger

A small cheeseburger from a fast-food restaurant earns a score of 8.

matthewjocelyn via Giphy

2. Instant soups

Packaged soups like Ramen noodles get a score of 1.

Shutterstock

1. Pudding

The packaged, ready-to-eat kind in flavors other than chocolate also gets a score of 1.

Shutterstock
Here’s the full infographic for comparison. Tufts University