The best and worst foods you can eat, according to science

Healthy foods including vegetables, fruits and nuts
Scientists have ranked more than 8,000 foods from healthiest to least healthy. (Getty Images)

Healthy and nutritious food is a key part of any balanced diet, helping to give you energy throughout the day.

But have you ever wondered exactly how healthy your favourite treats are? Thankfully, science has the answer.

Researchers in the US have created a 'Food Compass' after ranking more than 8,000 foods from healthiest to least healthy.

All the foods were given a score between 1 and 100 based on their nutritional value and links to diseases such as obesity and cancer.

Vegan food made from Japanese vegetables.
The top-scoring food groups were fruits, vegetables and legumes. (Getty Images)

Foods which scored 70 or above were deemed good while anything under 30 should be avoided. The average score across all foods was 43.2.

The top-scoring groups were fruits, vegetables and legumes. Almost all raw fruits – including oranges, peaches and strawberries – were given a perfect 100.

Read more: How much water do you need to drink a day?

Savoury snacks and sweet desserts had an average of rating just 16.4, with fudge, Skittles and Milky Bars scoring all just 1.

As breakfast is often heralded as the 'most important meal of the day', here are the scores for some popular breakfast items:

  • Avocado: 100

  • Cheerios: 95

  • Kellogg's Raisin Bran: 72

  • Buckwheat pancakes: 60

  • Instant oatmeal with milk: 58

  • Poached or boiled eggs: 51

  • Kellogg's Corn Flakes: 19

  • Plain waffle: 19

  • Plain pancakes: 13

  • Jam on white toast: 1

The results of the study, carried out at Tufts University in Massachusetts, were published in the journal Nature Food.

Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, the study's lead author, said: "Once you get beyond 'eat your veggies, avoid soda', the public is pretty confused about how to identify healthier choices in the grocery store, cafeteria and restaurant.

"Consumers, policymakers and even industries are looking for simple tools to guide everyone toward healthier choices."