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Diet fads come and go every day, each one more extreme than the next. No carbs, no fat, high fat, no meat, high meat, no gluten — we don't know about you, but we can hardly keep up. The one piece of conventional wisdom that we just can't seem to shake, though, is the idea that cutting calories will help us lose weight. Okay, yes, there is definitely truth to the concept that a net calorie deficit will result in body-weight reduction. But, obsessing over those little numbers on the back of your groceries often means ignoring basic tenets of nutrition. All calories are definitely not created equal; while a scoop of ice cream and an avocado contain the same number of calories, one choice is fundamentally healthier than the other. The important thing, of course, is to focus on giving your body what it really needs. But, it's almost impossible to ensure you're getting the right balance of nutrients when you're busy tallying calories.
With the help of some star nutritionists, we compare the nutritional density of some of your favorite foods (using 100 calories as a constant across the board). While caloric content is one metric people use to judge their food — one that might not be all that meaningful — we think it's most important to consider the nutritional value of what you're eating. Does your meal fill you up? Does it contain healthy fats and vitamins? Does it taste good? Ahead, we also break down the nutritional pros and cons of 10 common foods, so you can make decisions based on what's actually good for your body — not just on some arbitrary number.