Most people know that calcium is good for bones, fiber is good for constipation, and iron is good for blood, to name a few. But once you go beyond the basics, the picture gets murky.
Here’s a healthy food quiz (questions and answers included) to see how well you know which foods or nutrients can prevent or promote which diseases.
Feel free to cheat. The healthy food quiz questions and answers aren’t really a test of how well you read (and remember) every issue of Nutrition Action. They’re just a sneaky way to get you to look at the answers, which contain a wealth of information on how your diet affects your health.
The Healthy Food Quiz: Questions and Answers
1. Which is least likely to lower your blood pressure?
a. low-fat yogurt
c. whole-grain bread
2. Vitamin D may reduce the risk of all but one of these. Which one?
a. bone loss
b. colon cancer
c. gum disease
d. irritable bowel syndrome
e. multiple sclerosis
3. Which is least likely to reduce your risk of diabetes?
a. whole-grain cereal
c. salad dressing
d. alcoholic beverages
e. orange juice
4. Which is least likely to lower your risk of colon cancer?
a. lean meat
b. whole-grain bread
c. low-fat milk
d. a multivitamin
5. Which is least likely to lower your risk of brittle bones (osteoporosis)?
a. low-fat yogurt
b. collard greens
c. olive oil
d. a multivitamin e. suns
6. Which is least likely to cause food poisoning?
a. raw sprouts
7. Meat eaters have a higher risk of all but one of these diseases. Which one?
d. non-Hodgkins lymphoma
e. colon cancer
The Healthy Food Quiz: Answers
1. c (whole-grain bread). The DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) showed that a lower-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods can lower blood pressure. Researchers aren’t sure whether the potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, fiber, or other nutrients made the difference.
2. d (irritable bowel syndrome). Studies suggest that vitamin D may reduce the risk of bone loss, gum disease, multiple sclerosis, and colon cancer.
Shoot for 400 IU a day (600 IU if you’re over 70). Good sources include multivitamins, calcium+D supplements, milk, and some yogurts, breads, breakfast cereals, margarines, and orange juices. Sunlight is also a good source, but not in the winter north of the line that connects Los Angeles and Atlanta.
3. e (orange juice). To dodge diabetes, stay lean and exercise. Studies also find a lower risk in people who drink alcoholic beverages in modest amounts (1 or 2 drinks a day for men; half a drink for women), as well as those who eat nuts, whole grains, and unsaturated fats (like the oils in salad dressing). Processed red meats (like bacon, hot dogs, and sausage), trans-fat-laden foods (like French fries, fried chicken, and pie crust), and sweets may raise diabetes risk.
4. a (lean meat). Meat eaters seem to have a higher risk of colon cancer, even if the meat is lean. Foods that are high in magnesium (like beans, whole grains, and leafy greens) or calcium (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) seem to protect the colon. So do multivitamins (perhaps because they contain the B-vitamin folic acid) and exercise.
5. c (olive oil). Foods high in calcium (like milk, cheese, and yogurt), vitamin K (like collards, spinach, and broccoli), potassium (like fruits and vegetables), and vitamin D help strengthen your bones. The best sources of vitamin D are sunshine, a multivitamin, or a calcium+D supplement (see answer #2). Weight-bearing exercise (almost any activity but swimming) also protects bones and may help prevent falls by boosting balance, coordination, and strength.
6. d (mayonnaise). Fruits and vegetables (like berries, lettuce, and sprouts) can be contaminated in the fields by tainted water or manure. Contaminated poultry, beef, and eggs may cause infections when they’re undercooked. Commercial mayonnaise is pasteurized, so it’s relatively safe. (Homemade mayo is another story.)
7. a (osteoarthritis). Meat appears to increase the risk of gout because it’s rich in a compound called purine. It’s not clear why people who eat more red meat have a higher risk of non- Hodgkins lymphoma, diabetes, and colon cancer. People who eat more red meat (and less poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, etc.) also have a higher risk of heart disease.
How’d you do?
Get half the healthy food quiz questions and answers wrong? Congratulations. You did better than most people we tested. Look at it this way: had you aced the test, you wouldn’t have learned anything.