Friday, March 10, 2017

Apps to Help You Navigate What Is Healthy and What Isn't

How Do We Even Know What Is Healthy Anymore? These Apps Can Help
By Kurtis Bright

The Answers To All Your Food Choice Questions Are a Swipe Away--Just Download These Apps

No one needs to tell you that smart phones are ubiquitous these days. We’ve all been stuck walking behind someone who is hogging the sidewalk while staring at their phone, walking at a snail’s pace, swerving randomly back and forth. And there’s nothing quite as poignantly illustrative of the aloneness-togetherness of modern life than when you see a table full of friends out for dinner together, but silent and not looking at each other--because they are all furiously texting away.

But as annoying as our modern connected life is, it has its benefits: we have more information at our fingertips than 99 percent of humanity ever had available in all the libraries of the world.

This is of course a double-edged sword: there’s tons of information out there, but there is just as much, if not more, misinformation as well.

And misinformation is the order of the day, when it comes to making healthy food choices. Recently, however, some really useful apps have emerged that can help clear up the confusion as to what’s actually healthy and what’s not, even as you do your shopping on the fly.

  • Chemical Cuisine - This is an app that was created under the auspices of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and it has data on a plethora of additives, including descriptions and an evaluation of the relative safety of each. Whenever you come across a product containing on of those multi-syllabic, impossible-to-pronounce names, simply enter it into the Chemical Cuisine database and you’ll get a rating: safe, cut back, caution, avoid, or certain people should avoid.
  • Dirty Dozen - Cataloguing the dozen most chemically compromised fruits and vegetables--that is, those with a thin skin which thus absorb more pesticides, or which can take up chemicals via their root systems--this app advises you which ones you should always buy organic. It is of course daunting to face the prices of organic fresh fruits and veggies these days, so we all appreciate saving a few bucks when possible. That’s why this app is so useful: they also have a list called the Clean 15, which are fruits and vegetables that are least likely to carry chemical contaminants to your table.
  • Seafood Watch - The condition of the world’s life-giving oceans is in dire straits and grows worse every day. Not only is there widespread bleaching of the coral reefs and the massive plastic floating trash island in the Pacific, we are also overfishing several species into extinction. With this app the ecologically and health conscious shopper can buy seafood guilt-free. It gives you a color rating--red means overfished or farmed in harmful ways, yellow is somewhat better, and green is the best option of all. But there is also a Super Green list, giving you seafood options that are best for sustainability, and also those that are most likely to be free of contaminants like PCBs and mercury.
  • Fooducate - An extremely clever app that has a database of over 200,000 food items with a letter grade and nutritional value listing, it will also tell you if the food contains artificial additives. Not only that, it will offer healthier options--all by simply scanning in the UPC code.

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