Top 10 Nutrition Facts That Everyone Agrees on

Woman Confused About Salad And HamburgerThere is a lot of controversy in nutrition and it often seems like people can’t agree on anything.

But there are a few exceptions to this.

Here are the top 10 nutrition facts that everyone actually agrees on (well, almost everyone…).

1. Added Sugar is a Disaster

We all know that added sugar is bad.

Some think sugar is a simple matter of “empty” calories, while others believe it to cause diseases that kill millions of people each year.

It is definitely true that added sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) contains empty calories.

There are no nutrients in it and if you eat a lot of sugar then you’re likely to become deficient because you aren’t getting enough foods that actually have nutrients in them.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are other, much more serious dangers of sugar that are now reaching mainstream attention.

Sugar, mainly due to the high fructose content, is being implicated as a leading cause of obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes (1, 2, 3).

How does fructose do this?

Well, fructose is metabolized strictly by the liver, over time causing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, abdominal obesity and high cholesterol (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Then fructose makes our brains resistant to a hormone called leptin, which effectively makes our brains WANT to get fat (10, 11, 12).

This way, eating an excess of added sugars sets up a relentless biochemical drive in the brain to keep eating sugar, getting fatter and eating even more sugar.

Bottom Line: Added sugar provides empty calories and is believed to be a leading cause of diseases that kill millions of people each year.

2. Omega-3 Fats Are Crucial and Most People Don’t Get Enough


Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for proper functioning of the human body.

For example, DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid derived from animals, makes up about 40% of the polyunsaturated fats in the brain (13).

Being deficient in Omega-3 (very common) is associated with a lower IQ, depression, various mental disorders, heart disease and many other serious diseases (14).

There are three main sources of Omega-3 fats… ALA (from plants mostly), DHA and EPA (from animals).

The plant form, ALA, needs to get transformed into DHA or EPA in order to function correctly in the human body.

There is some evidence that this conversion process is ineffective in humans (15).

Therefore, it is best to get Omega-3 fats from animal sources… including fish, grass-fed meat, Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs, or fish oil.

Bottom Line: A large part of the population is Omega-3 deficient. Avoiding a deficiency in these essential fatty acids can help prevent many diseases.

3. There is no Perfect Diet For Everyone

Girl Eating Sandwich

We are all unique… and subtle differences in genetics, body type, culture and environment can affect which type of diet we should eat.

Some people do best on a low-carb diet while others may do fine on a vegetarian high-carb diet.

The fact is, what works for one person may not work for the next.

To figure out what you should do, a little self experimentation may be needed.

Try a few different things until you find something that you enjoy and that you think you can stick to. Different strokes for different folks!

Bottom Line: The best diet for YOU is the one you get results with and that you can stick to in the long term.

4. Artificial Trans Fats Are Very Unhealthy and Should be Avoided

Junk Food

Trans fats are also known as partially hydrogenated oils.

They are made by mixing unsaturated fats with hydrogen gas at a high heat to make them resemble saturated fats.

This process is very disgusting and it amazes me to think that someone thought these fats would be suitable for human consumption.

Trans fats raise the bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol, cause abdominal obesity, inflammation and insulin resistance (16, 17, 18).

In the long term, consumption of trans fats raises the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and many more diseases (19, 20, 21, 22, 23).

I recommend you avoid trans fats as if your life depended on it.

Bottom Line: Trans Fats are chemically processed fats that cause all sorts of damage in the body. You should avoid them like the plague.

5. Eating Vegetables Will Improve Your Health


Vegetables are good for you.

They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and an endless variety of trace nutrients that science has just begun to uncover.

In observational studies, eating vegetables is associated with improved health and a lower risk of disease (24, 25, 26).

I recommend that you eat a variety of vegetables each day.

They are healthy, fulfilling and add variety to the diet.

Bottom Line: Vegetables are rich in all sorts of nutrients. Eating vegetables each day is associated with improved health and a lower risk of disease.

6. It is Critical to Avoid a Vitamin D Deficiency

Woman Sunbathing

Vitamin D is a unique vitamin. It actually functions as a steroid hormone in the body.

The skin makes Vitamin D when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun.

This is how we got most of our daily requirement throughout evolution.

However, today a large part of the world is deficient in this critical nutrient.

In many places, the sun simply isn’t available throughout most of the year.

Even where there is sun, people tend to stay inside a lot and use sunscreen when they go out, but sunscreen effectively blocks Vitamin D generation in the skin.

If you’re Vitamin D deficient, then you’re actually deficient in a major hormone in the body, and a deficiency is associated with many serious diseases, including diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and others (27, 28, 29).

The best way to know is to see a doctor and have your blood levels measured.

Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to get enough Vitamin D from the diet.

If getting more sun is not an option, taking a Vitamin D3 supplement or a tablespoon of cod fish liver oil each day is the best way to prevent/reverse a deficiency.

Bottom Line: Vitamin D is a crucial hormone in the body and many people are deficient in it. Reversing a deficiency can have powerful health benefits.

7. Refined Carbohydrates Are Bad For You

Boy Eating a Sandwich

There are a lot of differing opinions about carbs and fat.

Some think fat is the root of all evil, while others believe carbs are the key players in obesity and other chronic diseases.

But what pretty much everyone agrees on is that refined carbohydrates are at the very least worse than unrefined (complex) carbohydrates.

There are some nutrients in high-carb foods like grains that can be beneficial.

However, when you process the grains you remove most of the nutrients and then there’s nothing left but the bad stuff, massive amounts of easily digestible glucose.

Eating refined carbs will cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, followed by a surge of insulin in the blood which triggers fat storage and contributes to insulin resistance and various diseases like obesity and diabetes.

I personally don’t think that grains are necessary at all, the nutrients in them can be acquired from other healthier and more nutritious foods in greater amounts.

But it is very clear that whole grains and unrefined carbohydrates are at least a lot better than their refined, processed counterparts (30).

Bottom Line: Refined carbohydrates like processed grains are unhealthy. They are lacking in nutrients and lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which can cause all sorts of problems down the line.

8. Supplements Can Never Fully Replace Real Foods


“Nutritionism” is the idea that foods are nothing more than the sum of their individual nutrients.

It is a trap that many nutrition enthusiasts tend to fall into.

But it’s simply not true.

Nuts, for example, aren’t just shells loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids in the same way that fruits aren’t just watery bags of fructose.

No, these are real foods with a massive variety of trace nutrients.

The vitamins and minerals, the ones you can also get from a cheap multivitamin, are just a small part of the total amount of nutrients in foods.

Therefore, supplements… at least the supplements we have today, are NOT able to replace the nutrients you get from real foods.

Now I will admit that supplements can be beneficial, especially for nutrients that are generally lacking in the diet like Vitamin D and Magnesium.

But no amount of supplements will ever make up for a bad diet. Not a chance.

Bottom Line: It is much more important to eat real, nutritious foods than to count on supplements to provide the nutrients you need.

9. “Diets” Don’t Work, a Lifestyle Change is Necessary

A man who needs to lose weight

“Diets” are ineffective. That is a fact.

They may lead to short-term results, but as soon as you start eating junk food again you will gain the weight back. And then some.

This is called yo-yo dieting and is extremely common.

Most people that lose a lot of weight on a diet end up gaining it back whenever they “stop” the diet.

For this reason, the only thing that can give you actual long-term results is to adopt a lifestyle change.

Bottom Line: Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the only way to ensure long term weight loss and a lifetime of improved health.

10. Unprocessed Food is Healthiest


Processed food is unhealthy.

As the food system has become more industrialized, the health of the population has deteriorated.

During food processing, many of the beneficial nutrients in the food are removed.

Not only do they remove healthy nutrients like fiber, but they also add other very harmful ingredients like added sugar, trans fats and refined wheat.

Additionally, processed foods are loaded with all sorts of artificial chemicals that have absolutely NOT been proven safe for long term human consumption.

Basically, processed foods have less of the good stuff and a LOT more of the bad stuff.

The most important thing you can do to ensure optimal health is to “eat real food.”

If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it!

11. Anything Else?

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to add to the list!


  1. Kudos for trying to find common ground. I get tired of hearing the vegans and the paleo people battle!

    Here are a few more that I think most people would agree on: we should choose “real food” over processed food, healthy oils like the kinds find in nuts, avocados, and olive oil are healthy, and we should eat at least some of our vegetables raw.

    I look forward to what else your readers come up with!

    • Agreed! Especially the bit about “there is no perfect diet for everyone”. Listen to your body.

      Please… eat real foods and avoid processed foods!!! The food industry is slowly poisoning us with all those added unnecessary additives gleaned from corn and then called ‘natural’. Read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. What an eye opener!!!

    • Heh you mean, “Tired of hearing the paleo people win”

      • I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the “Paleo people” “win”. I mostly just see a lot of whining :P

  2. As usual, amazingly concise.

  3. Exercise and nutrition together will help an individual to remain healthy, battles fought with focus on one will lead to failure. Thanks for sharing a good article.

  4. Excellent Kris! I’ve been thinking along these same lines for a while now, also along Deane’s comment. The biggest and most important reason that: Vegan and Paleo can work, Intermittent fasting vs. 5 meals a day can work, Juicing vs. bacon and eggs, walking 5 miles vs. P90X… as different and as opposite as many of these examples are, what do they all have in common? People are eliminating processed foods, refined sugars, SODA, refined/bleached flours, chemical sweeteners, etc. etc. etc. Common ground indeed.

    I really enjoy how you boil things down to the basics. Keep ‘em coming.

  5. Thanks for this article. I would like to comment on point no. 3 – there is no perfect diet for everyone. I agree with you 100%. However I do not agree that it is common ground for everyone. It is so annoying when health pros/nutritionists/doctors tell you that you SHOULD eat 6 helpings of unrefined carbs per day, or that you should limit this and limit that. 1 single serving of carbs gets me bloated and feeling like a zombie within an hour of consuming it.

    So no carbs for me thank you very much. But of course, who am I to say that this will happen to everyone. So everyone should eat what suits their body and how it works for them.

    I think that the mainstream nutritional philosophy does actually believe that their mainstream advice should be for everyone. I’ve been told by some doctors that I should avoid low-carbing like the plague, even though my stats are super fine & I’m super healthy.

  6. I stopped reading after the first lesson about sugar. I am in relatively good shape and health for my age. But having lived and read decade after decade about what is good or bad in food consumption I now disregard every warning or praise of a given food. I suppose there are plenty of people who don’t know sugar in excess isn’t too healthy, but considering the amount of fat people walking around and in hospitals and morgues.

    I have a feeling our culture is just not able to stay thin. So I believe this time in human history is one of narcissism and the false self. The victims and the victimizers. Isolation and mean spirited people are the real underlying causes of sickness and disease. But I suppose it’s a lot easier to write about diet and foods than focus about the soul that is wasting away within us.

    • Cathy, you can’t be a victim if you don’t let yourself be one… and eating properly for your body is something to be proud of. If you’ve read many of Kris’s articles… it is clear that eating badly is an addiction like so many others, so everyday you eat healthily is a great day.

      And knowing about sugar and controlling your intake are two different subjects. Sugar cries out in your brain for more, more, more, been there done that.

      I wish I could give you a hug. Check out a few websites for comraderie… is one that really pulls you in the fold. I am sure Kris has a bunch more. Good luck, you can do it.

  7. Excellent. I would add one more, possibly incorporate into Point 3 – Individuality. We all need protein, fat, and carbohydrates to function optimally – what specific balance is optimal will often depend on the individual. Just like a plant needs soil, sun, and water (and not too much or too little of each, but balanced), we also need the proper balance of those macronutrients.

    Of course there are diets out there (ie the Zone) that get very specific, ultimately it is up to the individual to determine what works best, but having an appreciation that some balance is needed will do a body good.

  8. Scooter says:

    I was 266 lbs two years ago and was 169 lbs this morning. What I would add is exercise. With the addition of exercise and the 10 statements you have written here you have described how I lost weight and am now healthier then Ive ever been since college. Lifestyle change being the most important. Once I accepted a lifestyle change there where many other items that fell into place. Thanks

  9. Great article Kris,

    Would love to get a list of some of the meals you cook at home?

    I try to follow a good diet but it’s difficult to avoid all the bad stuff without spending 3-4 hours a day cooking and I don’t have time.

    So far I make lots of organic brown rice, fresh vegatables etc, but it gets a bit boring

  10. I agree with Scooter. Also congrats in order… thanks Kris.

  11. Great article! I’ve been reading your blog for a while and this is your best post by far.

    I don’t believe there’s no quick diet that can get you thinner and healthier on the spot.

    I believe in a lifestyle change! I recently started my own blog to try to get myself into a better shape. Hope you can stay tuned!

    Keep up the good work! :)

    Anna @ Healthy on Track

  12. It’s hard. I am a sugar addict. I read all the advice but fail daily. It’s not one day at a time but one moment at a time. I have the ammunition but only temporary focus. Small changes daily mixed with shameful guilt. I can’t seem to control the urge for sugar.

    I am increasing my protein intake but a 500ml coke, large slab of cho,c a macdonalds burger and milkshake as I hadn’t eaten all day, then at 8 pm frying a piece of steak instead of a biscuit says it all. Then all the guilt and tomorrow will be better topped with an under active thyroid and fluoxetine for depression, I’m screaming out for this demon craving to be gone but its there.

    I do now use the tip of a teaspoon of stevia thanks to Kris so micro steps. How can I get rid of the thoughts that come from now where that turn to obsessing I need something sweet that leads to eating half a pack of biscuits even if it means getting in my car to get to the shop to buy them. Just like a heroin addict going out to score. Not a 50 year old lady.

    Please help me with how to stop the cravings in the first place. Comfort eating? Thank you.

    • Have you looked in to Food Addicts in recovery? They supply lots of social support and structure.

    • Before I changed my way of eating, I was also a sugar addict and would just HAVE to eat something. What helped me in the beginning was to have items that I allowed myself to eat if I wanted something. For instance, I would eat cheese or nuts if I had a craving. It satisfied my need to eat, but I wasn’t eating sugar.

      It took several days but as my body adjusted to the changes, I found that the cravings were gone. I COULD eat some cheese in the evening, but I didn’t want to any more. I eat twice a day now and that’s it. I eat real food… meat, eggs, dairy, fruits, veggies… and I am no longer controlled by my cravings. I lost 35 pounds and have kept it off for a year and a half now with no real effort on my part.

      Good luck!

    • Fiona. Find the Dishing up Nutrition podcast from Dar Kvist of Nutritional Weight and Wellness. She has one about food cravings. It sounds right up your alley (and mine).

  13. Get plenty of water everyday. A rule of thumb would be 7-10 glasses a day. Water is essential for healthy living and even weight control. Stay away from soda and other sugary drinks.

  14. Greg Griffin says:

    I thought there would be at least one that I wouldn’t agree with. Seems like you hit it spot on.

  15. Radical Vampire says:

    I want to ask you few questions and I hope you answer: I used to play karate and a year ago, I started exercising aerobics and since 4 months ago and I’m now training on kung fu and a week ago I started mediation and running tracks… I do eat healthy but am fine as long as am not exercising much “I was better,” but now my body started to be more muscular “something I LOVE” but the more I exercise, the more I feel that I do not have enough energy…

    Both coach told me to start eating unhealthy food, something I disgust and to be honest, both of them eat everything one of them eat in small amounts but the other eat everything in whatever amounts he wants. I know it’s individual variations. I train 7 days a week… for at least 2 hours minimum.

    I wake up 4 am – 4:30 am to go work at 9 am “my work is far away from me”. So I eat healthy and then drink 2 mugs of american coffee mixed with healthy milk but after 1 pm, I drink 2 mugs of tea with healthy milk.

    Shall I start eating unhealthy food really? I do not know what to do, especially that am starting to lose my power during my training.

    Advise Me.

    • There’s no need to eat unhealthy food.

      You can increase your carb intake from healthier sources like fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, healthier grains like rice and oats.

  16. That is a good concise list. Good to find a common ground where everyone agrees.

  17. ?? Why to you need to say “Now I will admit that supplements can be beneficial, especially for nutrients that are generally lacking in the diet like Vitamin D and Magnesium.”

    and follow it with:

    “But no amount of supplements will ever make up for a bad diet. Not a chance.”?

    It seems you are “a bit confused about supplements” and maybe that’s the truth about supplements, everyone is confused about them.

    Is it OK to say that supplements can be beneficial? Maybe they are even essential to optimal health. Don’t fall into the ‘food myth’, the idea that you can get meet all of your needs for optimal nutrition through diet is a myth.

    To your health, Tracy.

    • Supplements can be beneficial, but no amount of supplements will make up for a BAD diet (lots of junk food).

      No amount of supplements can provide ALL the trace nutrients available in real foods and no amount of supplements can repair the damage caused by eating high amounts of fructose and trans fats.

      Take care of your diet first, then add supplements to optimize (if applicable).

  18. What a great succinct post! Agree with the other comments about finding common ground amongst the different dietary viewpoints and focus on the key things we all know are bad.

    I’m gonna blog about this post.

  19. On point #2, it’s not actually difficult to get DHA and EPA from non-animal sources. Both are found in several types of algae (which is where fish get them anyway), and both the extracted fatty acids, as well as the pure algae are reasonably inexpensive.

  20. I enjoyed the article, and agree with most of it. The following sentence gave me pause, though:

    “As the food system has become more industrialized, the health of the population has deteriorated.”

    I can’t imagine what your evidence for this would be. The average lifespan for people in industrialized nations is at an all-time high, as far as I know. I’ve heard the prediction that the average life span will fall with our generation (but this couldn’t be known for another 50-70 years.)

    This one dubious sentence makes me doubt the rest of the article. Which is a shame. Maybe a few sources would be useful. I promise I’m not on the side of processed food. I just want to read articles (with the word “fact” in their title) that are backed up by data.

    • Health is different than lifespan (not that I don’t believe the projections saying it will be shortened given the facts below. At some point we aren’t going to be able to medicate our way through disease. I’m game to not wait the 50-70 years to find out.)

      1 out of 5 children is on a prescription medication and 9 out of 10 adults are (9 out of 10!!!). OVER HALF of children have or have had a CHRONIC health problem like diabetes, asthma, allergies, autism etc. That does not look like “health” to me and very much supports the authors assertion that our health has declined.

  21. Very balanced article. Hey, another reason sugar is the debbil (I’m getting a scene from The Waterboy in my head now): it seems to lower your immune system. Hard to tell whether this is causal or not but there’s definitely a correlation.

  22. Jeff Vasiloff, MD, MPH says:

    I am very impressed with your list of ten things that everyone agrees with! I only have some reservations on vitamin D supplementation. It is certainly true that having normal blood levels of vitamin D is associated with good health. But what has not been shown, at least not to me, is that supplementation will “convert” a vitamin D-deficient person into a healthy person.

    I know it is counterintuitive. It makes sense if something is low in the blood, to raise it up, and everything will be OK. But this isn’t always true. We physicians are notorious for treating abnormal lab values without proof that fixing the lab values will fix the patient. For example, the lowest normal hemoglobin in men is about 14 g/dl. During surgeries, when patients lose blood, physicians have given the patients transfusions of blood whenever the hemoglobin dropped to 10 or less. It only makes sense!

    But we have found by experimental trials that patients who lose blood in surgery even down to hemoglobin levels of 7.5 do BETTER if we do not transfuse them–that is, they do better when we leave their low hemoglobin levels alone. This is counterintuitive. But it is probably because the body doesn’t work exactly how we think it should.

    Turning back to vitamin D, eating right–obeying all the other wonderful recommendations you have made–will keep vitamin D blood levels in the normal range in some people, but not all. But those who have a low vitamin D blood level–who are eating well–may not benefit from “fixing” the low vitamin D level with supplements except in certain specific situations (see below).

    At least this is what the studies show so far. Giving the supplements to many with low vitamin D levels, so far, just raise the blood levels, but do not seem to “transform” the those people into completely healthy people.

    Finally, this is not to say that it is foolhardy to take vitamin D supplements–they appear relatively safe at the usual dosage recommendations–but rather, that the claims of the almost miraculous health effects of taking vitamin D supplements just have not been borne out by studies thus far, except in certain restricted situations, such as people with symptoms of hypocalcemia (low calcium in the blood), those with kidney failure and bone disease, some with bone diseases, and a subset of those with fibromyalgia in which some cite a mild decrease in pain. But keep up the good work!

  23. There are 5 to 100 million species on the planet and you think that human beings are the only ones who need own diet for each person? Maybe your mind needs different food than mine, but not your body.

    • Eetu,

      Well, it’s true that I can’t see a bunch of beetles logging on to discuss whether the “Total Detritovore Diet” beats the “Demi Decomposed Lignin Diet” or a group of foxes worrying whether chicken is good for their cholesterol level…

      I think humans are a *bit* of a special case though… we’ve “developed” to the point where we’ve massively increased the variation in our potential diets and the environmental factors to which where exposed.

      We choose to exercise, or not. We live in polluted cities, or not. We work night shifts, have medical x-rays, take drugs (prescription or recreational); we drink chlorinated tap water… or we don’t do some, or any of those things.

      So maybe our dietary needs are more complicated than jaguars, caterpillars or hummingbirds because as a species we’ve conspired to make them that way?

      As a mother of three, myself following LCHF with a husband who doesn’t buy it, an elder son who is veering towards vegetarianism and a middle son who would eat pork chops from dusk till dawn, I’m learning to live and let live about it all!

    • Eetu -

      I agree. This whole everyone is a “purple snowflake” in regards to a diet gets old, especially in the light of the underlying assumptions of both biology and chemistry.

      Everyone can eat a strict Paleo diet, which is mostly meat and vegetables. Almost all allergies/sensitivities are found outside that food set. (And environmental factors only encourage food sensitives — they don’t at all alter the kinds of foods we develop allergies to.)

      That humans can live and even reproduce on other diets (vegetarianism) does not make them optimal. Personally, I’m looking for 1 better than semi-sick survival.

  24. @Kris – and I meant to say: SUPERB site, thanks for all the information, and the light good humoured touch!

  25. It might be good to clarify point 4 that Artificial Trans Fats should be avoided. Naturally occuring Trans Fats seem to show positive benefits.

  26. It’s frustrating that “science” can seem to substantiate nearly every eating regimen. I understand bioindividuality, but clearly nutrition as a science has a long way to go. I’m reminded that 96% of all statistics are made up.

    • Science can’t substantiate every eating regimen. Current society thinks of scientists as good/rational and religion as bad/irrational. (And separate, which was not always the case.) So people wrap up religious diets in lab coats today. It’s just a hazard of modern living.

      Most of the best nutrition research was done from about the early 20′s through the WWII era. It still stands today as correct. You won’t find it “Prevention” magazine, but you may find it here. :)

  27. Excellent collection, the only point where I would disagree is #3: fatty fish is OK but I would advise against going overboard with fish oil. All PUFAs (including omega 3) increase intestinal permeability.

  28. What’s worked for me is to never eat junk. If you’re hungry eat, maybe even occasionally overeat. But don’t eat garbage. If you’re starving late at night & just gotta eat have canned salmon, brown rice, almonds, avocados & apples. But not soda or chips. My experience has been what you eat is more important than how much you eat. I’ve lost 55 pounds in 2 years without going hungry – but no sugar-laden processed junk.

  29. Thank you for this no nonsense article. Helped me to make the right choices in my diet for the future.

  30. I am always researching the best foods to eat for a healthy lifestyle. I have lost 40 pounds by following the knowledge I have gained by reading information. I enjoyed the info here, however, the need for water and exercise should also be very important to add to your list.

  31. Dan Walter says:

    Thanks for the info. I keep trying and will never give up again on trying to eat the right things.

  32. Vinny Grette says:

    Fabulous summary of the basics of nutrition. I’ve been following this mantra for a few years now and have been trying to get through to kids and their families with these messages through stories where real foods are the heroes. I’ve shared your article widely and hope it goes viral!

If you made it all the way down here, you probably liked the article. Please share it:

Speak Your Mind