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Sometimes a banana is just a banana—a good, healthy whole food, according to nutritionists. Unfortunately, most Americans have been trained to value the banana for specific nutrients, including potassium, rather than the entire package of fiber 

Focus on Foods, Not Nutrients

August 7, 2015

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Sometimes a banana is just a banana—a good, healthy whole food, according to nutritionists. Unfortunately, most Americans have been trained to value the banana for specific nutrients, including potassium, rather than the entire package of fiber and other compounds that makes the natural food much better for us than a handful of vitamin pills.

That’s a problem, says communications researcher Jonathon Schuldt.

In June, Time magazine covered Schuldt’s study about how accurately people judge disease risk based on diet. When study participants learned about the healthy nutrients in a fictional man’s diet, they rated the man’s risk for several diet-related diseases considerably lower than those who were told about the healthy whole foods that the man ate.

Schuldt says we’re missing the nutritional forest for the trees:

Even though more nutrition experts are really emphasizing that we eat whole foods that have nutrients embedded in their natural contexts, these results suggest that when it comes to perceptions of long-term disease outcome, nutrients still hold a lot of sway in people’s judgments.

Read more in Time.