When I order Seamless, finding a health-conscious choice isn’t usually my priority. I do it because I’m exhausted, starving and craving something like pad thai or chicken tikka masala that I know will arrive in 45 minutes or less, taste delicious and satiate me for the night.
But that’s me; I order delivery maybe twice a month at most. There are plenty of folks who get takeout several nights a week, and when you’re ordering with that kind of regularity, it can be hard to keep track of your nutritional intake.
A new app, Order Healthy, has a system that can help you navigate your healthier options.
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Currently available in 17 cities, including NYC, and currently on iOS, the app works the same way as a Seamless or a Grubhub, pulling up nearby pickup and delivery options based on the address or zip code you enter. But Order Healthy then goes a step further, using a traffic-light color-coding system to rank the health factor of individual restaurant menu items, with green being the healthiest, yellow, moderate, and red, the least healthy.
The founders decided on this system based on the findings of a recent study commissioned by fitness and diet tracker JoinTheChallenge, published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology. The research team used a red-green-yellow rating strategy to compare nutritional information on menu items at 20 fast food chains.
The study revealed that “red foods” on average were more than 60 percent higher in calorie and cholesterol, and more than 100 percent higher in saturated fat than “green foods.”
In the study’s conclusion, the researchers noted that using the food-rating system “has the potential to improve nutrition; reduce the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke; and improve public health.”
Order Healthy doesn’t list the actual nutritional data adjacent to the menu items, so you can't check for calorie count, sodium, carbs, etc before you place an order. But it’s meant to provide a general guideline for healthier eating. Did I need the app to tell me that an egg-white omelet (marked green) from my local deli is healthier than the one made with steak, (marked red)? Probably not. But when you’re hungry, impatient and want to be mindful of what you put in your mouth, it helps to let the color-coding do the work for you.