Go to credible sources
Websites of professional organizations like the American Dietetic Association
, government agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
, medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic
, or educators like Harvard University
provide information you can trust.
Look for the details
Is the information old or new? Nutrition is a field that is rapidly changing, so seek information that has been published or presented in the last year or two. Is the writer credentialed? Look for articles that quote doctors or dietitians—or pieces that are written by these professionals. Don’t take the words “research” and “study” without a grain of salt: It’s often hard to draw “news you can use” from certain experiments—for example, those that aren’t peer-reviewed or published in a credible journal, those that are performed on animals, or those that are purely observational—which means that other factors could be involved in the outcome. A good article will explain how a study was performed and what it should actually mean for our eating habits.
Be a skeptic
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Red wine contains a compound that seems to protect against aging
, for example, but experts have said that we can never drink enough red wine in a day for it to have an impact—at least not without suffering negative health effects from the alcohol. On the other hand, if something sounds too horrible
to be true, that’s probably the case as well.
Read the “About Us” page
Be sure to look beyond the bold and go to the small print to see who is behind the information or if it is a bogus organization. It may turn out that a seemingly unbiased organization is sponsored by a food company that’s promoting its own products, or an animal right’s group that’s posting bad news about eating meat, for example. Knowing where the information really comes from can help you make a more educated judgment about its accuracy.
Get a second opinion
As always, ask your doctor, dietitian, or another nutrition professional whether the information you found seems legitimate.