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Do popular food blogs offer nutritionally balanced recipes?

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A simple recipe search on Google can yield hundreds of thousands of options for the home cook.

Yet for people who have special diets or are concerned about proper nutrient balance, do online recipes from top food bloggers really deliver healthy options?

This was the question that researchers from Simmons College in Boston asked in a new study.

"We identified six food blogs that were very popular," said lead author Elizabeth Schneider, MS, RD. "It is really surprising that these blogs may have more than 2 million visits per month. This large reach makes the food blog an important component for nutrition education."

Too much fat and sodium

After studying a sample of 96 recipes for entrees that were classified according to their main ingredient, the team found that – not surprisingly – vegetarian entrees had a lower calorie profile than meat dishes. And overall, the sampled recipes were "acceptable" in calories, yet they were "excessive" in saturated fat and sodium.

Compounding the problem, the researchers said, is the fact that many food companies sponsor recipe blogs – which makes many recipes an advertisement for products that may not be nutritionally sound.

Opportunity for education

Schneider said that dietitians and nutrition educators should take advantage of the opportunity to have an online presence through which to offer healthy recipes and nutrition advice.

"It's exciting to live in an online generation and I believe there is a need for dietitians to have a spot in the food blogging culture," concluded Schneider. "Wouldn't it be great to find a 'dietitian approved' icon next to healthy online recipes, giving the public peace of mind knowing that the recipes are nutritious?"

Source: Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior