List of Healthy & Unhealthy Foods

By definition, a healthful diet would mean one that promotes health and vitality, while providing sufficient calories to sustain an energetic lifestyle. Looking at the wide selection of items on grocery-store shelves or the menu of any restaurant, it's easy to understand why people are confused about the foods that are considered healthy and the foods that are not.


Making health-conscious choices in food will pay long-term dividends, helping you to maintain a fit and strong body well into your senior years. Studies have confirmed the importance of good nutrition in the battle to prevent and treat many diseases including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer.

Five-Star Foods

Foods in this category are unprocessed, unrefined and extremely nutritious and loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. Choose the majority of your foods from this list daily: all fresh fruits, green and red peppers, tomatoes, collard greens, asparagus, yams, barley, beans, carrots, brown rice, kale, broccoli, and all other green vegetables or salad vegetables; also, salmon, sardines, trout, egg whites, nonfat cottage cheese, shellfish, chicken, turkey breast, green tea and rooibos tea.

Four-Star Foods

Add variety and nutrition to your diet, perhaps food that is lightly processed or containing a bit more fat. Included are 100% whole-grain unsweetened cereals, breads and pastas, lean minced meat, low-fat ground turkey, whole eggs, low-fat cheese, sour cream, yoghurt, cottage cheese, natural peanut butter, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.

Three-Star Foods

These foods are not awful, but they're not that great either. Most have added sugar or fat, are processed heavily and much of their nutritional value is gone. Use these foods on occasion: grits, white rice, white pasta, bagels, instant oatmeal, flake cereal, lean cuts of lunch meat, flavoured yoghurt.

Zero-2 Star Foods

If you're eating a lot of these foods, you're probably showing evidence of it with extra body fat and health issues. The items below are full of refined sugar, saturated fat, or made primarily from bleached, white flour: pretzels, chips, cookies, candy, crackers, white bread, muffins, sweetened boxed cereal, regular lunch meats, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, ham, roast beef or pork, butter/margarine, fried foods, jerky, soda pop, doughnuts, pie, cake, fettuccine Alfredo, flavoured whole milk, hydrogenated shortening.


Bad foods not only taste good, they tend to be less expensive than the healthful foods. The low cost and instant gratification factor of fast food make it very attractive to teens and people on a limited budget. Consider shopping at a farmer's market or at discount warehouses, splitting bulk purchases with another person.

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About the Author

Deborrah Cooper is an ISSA-certified trainer and ACE lifestyle consultant specializing in women, sports nutrition, program design and post-rehab fitness. She is also a dating coach and advice columnist. In 2007 she wrote "Sucka Free Love!" a hilarious guide to smarter dating for modern singles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Houston.