Few people realize one of the reason fruits and vegetables are so good for you and processed foods are so bad for you is that fruits and vegetables have more nutrition per calorie and processed foods have less.
There are two key things food give us: calories for energy, and nutrients for so many things our bodies need to do. A diet high in processed foods is a diet with a lot of calories but little nutrients. That means it makes us bigger and sicker. Eating the right, real food gives us enough calories, but a lot more nutrients, keeping us lean and healthy.
One of the sites I really like that shows this clearly is Wise Geek’s 200 Calories of Food. It shows exactly 200 calories of different types of food. It gives us some stark contrast for many foods. For instance, compare 200 calories of broccoli and 200 calories of a Jack in the Box cheeseburger.
You can see the broccoli has a lot more food for a lot less calories. How many cheeseburgers would it take to fill up the same space the brocolli would fill in your stomach to make you feel full? And yet which would provide better nutritional content (healthy, green vegetable vs. fatty meat with bleached flour bun and processed cheese product)?
Let’s try another comparison. How about 200 calories of apples vs. 200 calories of cheese.
Now this is not to say that cheese is bad. What it does tell us is that cheese has a lot of calories per square inch. If you ate an equal amount of apples and cheese you would add a lot more calories of cheese to get the same amount of food.
Let’s do one more. 200 calories of beans (great source of protein and iron in some cases) and 200 calories of butter.
Now this isn’t much of a comparison. It’s not like you will eat beans when you want to eat butter. But I do like showing this because we see how calorie-dense butter is.
I’m sure you realize that looking at how many calorie are packed into your food is not the only reason to decide what to eat. But it only takes 20 seconds to look at the site (something I encourage you to do) to get a better understanding of an important truth about food. It may just take a few seconds of your time, but it can provide you a lifetime of insight.