Healthy Cooking
We will be on vacation next week so this homepage will stay up for 2 weeks.
New on the website:
Pantothenic Acid - All of the WHFoods except olive oil contain pantothenic acid!
The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or
advertising, is a new force for change to help make a healthier you and a healthier world.
10 Most Controversial WHFoods

Among the thousands of foods enjoyed by people throughout the world, we've selected 100 core foods to be included on our list of WHFoods. All of these foods are whole foods that are part of longstanding culinary traditions and are widely available in food markets throughout the U.S. Equally important, our WHFoods are nutrient-rich and give you an outstanding number of nutrients while costing you relatively few calories from your daily calorie budget. Despite these highly beneficial qualities, however, not all of our WHFoods are meant for everyone.

When you are considering the role that you would like our WHFoods to play in your meal plan, we would like to make you aware of the especially controversial nature of 10 WHFoods. These 10 foods (listed in alphabetical order) are:

  • Beef
  • Dairy Foods (Cow's Milk, Cheese, Yogurt)
  • Eggs
  • Nightshade Vegetables (Bell Peppers, Chili pepper, Eggplant, Potatoes, Tomatoes)
  • Peanuts
  • Sea Vegetables
  • Shrimp
  • Soy Foods (Miso, Soybeans, Soy Sauce, Tofu and Tempeh)
  • Tuna
  • Wheat

The controversial nature of these 10 WHFoods usually involves the following factors: (1) unwanted risk of toxicity; (2) unwanted risk of adverse reaction; (3) unwanted risk of irreversible environmental damage; or (4) some combination of these three factors.

We'll use shrimp as an example of a controversial WHFood. Shrimp has historically been enjoyed by many cultures worldwide—especially coastal cultures enjoying easy access to this shellfish. Shrimp is a good, very good, or excellent source of at least 14 nutrients according to our Nutrient Rating System, and it's a unique food in its combined content of protein, selenium, and astaxanthin.

At the same time, however, tropomyosin proteins in shrimp have been shown to trigger a disproportionate number of allergic responses (involving release of IgE antibodies by the immune system) in comparison with other foods. For this reason, shrimp has been classified (along with other shellfish) by U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as one of the most allergenic foods in the U.S. food supply. For persons who experience food allergy to shrimp, it is a food worth avoiding. And yet, this situation does not apply to everyone - only to individuals who experience an adverse reaction.

Allergy to shrimp is not the only reason why people might choose to avoid shrimp in their meal plans. Over the past 10 years, shrimp farming has taken over a large percentage of the shrimp marketplace. As a very general rule, shrimp farms have not produced a very good track record in terms of the health quality of their farming environment. The spread of viruses and parasites have been a special problem for some fish farms, and up to 30-40% of shrimp on some farms have been lost to unwanted disease, including viruses like Monodon baculovirus or parasites like Hematodinium. Other contamination problems associated with shrimp farming have included contamination with antibiotic residues as well as mercury. Like allergic reaction to shrimp, poor health quality of shrimp farms is not a universal problem. But it's enough of a problem to make shrimp a food that some individuals prefer to avoid.

Finally, the cultivation of shrimp in non-natural habitats is a special concern for many consumers. Globalization of the food supply has seen an increasing rise in shrimp imports from Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, China, and Mexico into the U.S. Nearly 90% of all shrimp currently consumed in the U.S. have been raised on farms in these seven countries. Creation of these farms has often involved destruction of mangrove forests, and it has also led to unwanted environmental imbalances. These environmental concerns are important for many consumers, and they choose to avoid shrimp based on these concerns.

As you can see, there are many good reasons for the controversy surrounding shrimp. Similarly, there are good reasons for the controversy surrounding all of our 10 Most Controversial WHFoods. You'll find us addressing similar types of issues involving potential adverse food reactions, potential contaminants, and potentially undesirable environmental consequences in the Individual Concerns sections of our food profiles for all 10 Most Controversial WHFoods. While these Individual Concerns for our most controversial foods will differ from food to food, all of our Most Controversial WHFoods raise concern in a way that is more controversial than the other foods on our website.

It's not unusual for us to get feedback from website visitors who tell us, "We love your website! But how can you possibly recommend shrimp (or beef, or cow's milk, etc.)?" We include these foods for the same reasons as all of our WHFoods: they are whole foods that are part of longstanding culinary traditions, are widely available in U.S. food markets, and outstanding in their nutrient-richness. But we recognize their controversial nature, and we realize they aren't for everyone. One of the best things you can do for your health is to make your meal plan your own. We believe in providing you with the best available scientific information, and easy steps toward delicious and healthy meals. But we also believe in the importance of your personal food decisions—especially when you are considering the role of our more controversial WHFoods.

We're Number 1 in the World!

20 million visitors per year.
The World's Healthiest Foods website is a leading source of information and expert on the Healthiest Way of Eating and Cooking. It's one of the most visited website on the internet when it comes to "Healthiest Foods" and "Healthiest Recipes" and comes up #1 on a Google search for these phrases.

Over 100 Quick & Easy Recipes

Our Recipe Assistant will help you find the recipe that suits your personal needs. The majority of recipes we offer can be both prepared and cooked in 30 minutes or less, from start to finish. A number of them can also be prepared ahead of time and enjoyed later.
privacy policy and visitor agreement | who we are | site map | what's new
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.
© 2001-2014 The George Mateljan Foundation, All Rights Reserved