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The FITNESS Fit 50: The Best Breakthroughs in Food

Here are the people, products, and ideas that made this a great year for healthy eating.

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Luna mini
Scott Little
Luigi Menduni
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The Just-Right Bite

The Goldilocks-like search for an energy bar that's not too high in calories and added sugars or too low in the taste and satisfaction departments got a jump-start this year with the arrival of smaller versions of regular bars. The minis from Clif Bar (100 calories) and Luna (80 calories) come in three flavors, most involving chocolate.

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On-the-Box Nutritional Help

At a time when the obesity rate is sky-high, we need people exactly like Adam Drewnowski, PhD, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington. At medical conferences across the country this year, he's been making the case for a Nutrient Rich Foods Index -- a ranking system for foods based on nutrients and calories. "The scale will help people make the best choices when buying breakfast cereal or peanut butter," Drewnowski says. We say it's an idea whose time has come.

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Brian Wansink, PhD, Healthy Food Fighter

For the past year, Brian Wansink, PhD, the Cornell University researcher who helped us understand why we overeat, has been busy in Washington, D.C., serving as executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Experts in the field vigorously applauded the unprecedented appointment of a food psychologist -- perhaps he can save us from supersizing. Wansink, who returns to Cornell early next year, says, "Even if eating healthy hasn't been your priority, a small change today can, over time, have a huge impact."

Avoid overeating with these tips

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Michael Pollan: Farmers' Best Friend

If anyone has brought the eat-local movement to the mainstream, it's Michael Pollan, food writer and author of the best-selling In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. With his smart and clear writing, he's clued us into the vast industrialization of our food, what it means for our health and the environment, and why we should care about the carbon footprint of what's in our shopping cart.

"As a nation, we seem to have an eating disorder -- an enormous confusion about what to eat and what people think is healthy," Pollan says. His solution couldn't be simpler: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

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Enlightened Eating Out

Since a New York City regulation took effect last July requiring restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide to post calorie counts on menu boards, "there's been sticker shock," says New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden, MD, the driving force behind the law. "I'm optimistic that we'll see a change in what people choose -- and eventually what restaurants offer."

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Grocery Guru: Danny Wegman of Wegmans Supermarkets

In this time of rising food prices, Wegmans supermarkets, the 72-store regional chain that specializes in locally grown, farm-fresh produce, is putting customer savings before profits. "It's tough out there right now," CEO Danny Wegman says. "If we make a little less money in the short term, that's okay." As astounding a pronouncement as that is, it's business as usual for Wegman, who has steered the company with what he calls his "personal passion for wellness."

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Hot Comfort: Campbell's Soup

The soups known for being mm-mm-good just got mm-mm-better. The discovery of a lower-sodium sea salt has the Campbell Soup Company reformulating its soups to meet the FDA's "healthy" level of 480 milligrams of sodium. The result: Healthier Select Harvest soups are on sale now; 12 kids' soups hit the shelves this fall. By August 2009, Campbell's lower-sodium varieties will number 85. Finally, we can have our soup and slurp it too.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2008.

Get 12 simple soup recipes you can make yourself

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