November 20, 2018
They are both mouth-watering treats that have been trending all year on social media. But which would you guess is the healthier snack?
Graeme Tomlinson— a 31-year-old UK-based, self-described “evidence-based [fitness] coach and nutrition geek”—recently posted two pictures of toast side-by-side on Instagram: one covered with Nutella; and the other, with half of an avocado. He asked his 156,000 followers on the site to choose the more nutritious “nosh.”
Tomlinson, widely known as The Fitness Chef, pointed out that we often “idolize” and “demonize” foods, which, of course, is not a great thing to do.
However, according to a BuzzFeed report on the experiment, he also went on to say that you might choose one or the other depending on your specific goals—getting more nutrients or eating fewer calories.
“Looking in factual objectivity, consumption of the former [avocado toast] means consumption of more nutrients, marginally more fiber and more calories; while consumption of the latter means …[fewer] nutrients, marginally less fiber, but less calories,” reads the caption, which got nearly 12,000 likes.
“Therefore,” said Tomlinson, “the avocado toast may be a good idea if the goal for that snack is to consume more nutrients, whilst the Nutella toast may be a better option if calorie reduction is the goal.”
People had some strong thoughts about comparing the foods based on their calorie content. As can happen on the Internet, the image was also tweeted out without the original caption.
And–lacking that caption—it was kind of hard to tell what the creator’s point was, BuzzFeed said. It seemed to imply that Nutella on white bread might be a better choice than avocado toast, based on calorie count alone.
Others weren’t happy with the focus on a 13-calorie difference between the two—because, really, 13 calories are nearly meaningless.
However, a calorie isn’t just a calorie, Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and board-certified sports dietician with practices in New York and Los Angeles told BuzzFeed in an email.”Let’s say the bread was identical, so we’re just comparing avocado to Nutella. One is whole food nourishment, and the other is a processed treat, even if they provide the same number of calories.”
Indeed, Sass pointed out, avocado has 20 important nutrients and provides antioxidants and health-protective fat. Conversely, Nutella contains more additives — including sugar—than it does hazelnuts.
“Comparing these two is like comparing one cup of fresh blueberries (85 calories) to 10 gummy bears (85 calories),” she told the news outlet. “Even at the same calorie level the impact on your health is very different.
“As a nutritionist, I don’t like to see food demonized,” Keri Gans, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York remarked during a BuzzFeed interview. “I think that when you are making food choices you should be thinking ‘This might be a healthier choice,’ or ‘This might be better for me,’but there is also room for foods that might not be so nutritious for you. And that’s ok. We are trying to move away from the mentality and the association of food with guilt.”
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