The best healthy food apps
Whether for vegan recipe ideas, calorie counting, or checking ingredients: these healthy food apps are right on trend.
Healthy food apps as digital nutrition assistants
Eating healthier, getting fitter, and maybe losing a couple of pounds: lots of us have good intentions, but actually putting them into practice is a different story, as we all know. So it’s not without reason that a broad portfolio of healthy food apps has emerged on the market. These digital nutrition and fitness assistants each have their own focus and different features. Not only do they aim to make it easier to lose weight, but they also help users put together a personal nutrition plan and optimize it in a way that boosts their health and promotes sustainability.
In the busyness of day-to-day life, there is little time to scrutinize your own eating habits and figure out the amount of calories, sugar, salt, and additives in your food – and that’s where nutrition apps come in. These apps are easy to navigate, user-friendly, and intuitive, enabling users to reach their nutritional goals more quickly. Many apps draw on databases containing the nutritional values of millions of food items. These can be retrieved via a search feature or sometimes even scanned via their barcode in a matter of milliseconds and then added to a personal nutrition plan. Weight loss apps can also often be linked to other apps such as pedometers and fitness apps.
Nutrition apps with different priorities and features
Although most healthy food apps combine multiple features, they usually focus on one of the following areas:
#1 Weight loss apps
Apps that are primarily aimed at losing weight, maintaining weight, or gaining weight in a healthy and safe way are usually designed as calorie counters where users enter what they’ve consumed over the course of the day. The app then uses that as a basis to compile a quick overview of the corresponding calories and – usually in a paid version – the nutritional composition in terms of carbohydrates, fats, minerals, etc. When users register for the popular YAZIO app, for example, an individual profile is created for them containing their starting weight, weight loss or weight gain goal, physical activity, and other data, from which a daily energy target is then calculated. A barcode scanner makes it easy for users to find the food they have eaten during the day and add it to their food diary. The food database is really extensive and even includes other nutritional values such as protein and fat content. However, if you want a detailed analysis, you have to subscribe to the fee-based Pro version. Lifesum and MyFitnessPal are two other popular calorie counter apps. Like YAZIO, they can be connected to fitness apps for a more precise calculation of the total number of calories that have been consumed and burned.
#2 Healthy food apps for recipe ideas
If you’re simply short of ideas for eating a healthy and balanced diet in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you’ll find inspiration from recipe apps such as EAT SMARTER, Runtasty, and Green Kitchen. The free EAT SMARTER app gives you access to more than 100,000 recipes, which you can filter according to your personal eating habits and nutritional goals, whether vegan, vegetarian, or low carb. Green Kitchen specializes in vegetarian recipes, while Runtasty – an extension of the Runtastic running and fitness apps – presents meals that are not only healthy, but also quick and easy to make.
#3 Nutrition apps focused on sustainability and regional produce
These healthy food apps open the door to eating both healthier and more sustainably by presenting seasonal recipe ideas or ones that can be created with locally produced ingredients. The SuperFood app is probably the most popular example right now, combining a collection of recipes, a calorie counter, a personal nutrition diary, and a shopping list for regional ingredients – all on one platform. The German-based RegioApp is also centered around regional food. By manually searching by area or sharing their location in the app, users can find out where they can get products from local farmers and grocers. Another example is the season calendar app created by the German Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE), which clearly lists which fruits and vegetables are in season in that particular month – among other things, with the aim of reducing the distances that they travel. The NABU seal check app developed by the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union also makes it easier to shop for sustainable food. Users simply take a photo of the seals displayed on products, and the app then tells them how well the food performs from an environmental perspective.
#4 Apps for checking additives, allergens, and more
A healthy diet isn’t just about nutritional values, vitamins, and minerals; many consumers also want to avoid unhealthy additives as much as possible – and for those with allergies, scrutinizing the ingredients list can be a matter of life and death. The CodeCheck app features a barcode scanner that lets users retrieve detailed information on all the ingredients of a product in next to no time. In addition to the actual nutritional values and ingredients such as lactose and gluten, the app also displays questionable constituents such as palm oil, parabens, and paraffins. If a user’s profile is personalized, CodeCheck will, for example, warn them about food that is not vegan or vegetarian. The app also educates users about a product’s origin, delivery distances, and potential alternatives.
Can artificial intelligence help us lose weight?
The existing range of healthy food apps could be complemented in the future by AI apps geared toward digital dietary advice. ChatGPT is already capable of drawing up food plans on request, for example based on the low carb method, and other apps are in the pipeline. AI could pave the way for creating personalized diet plans and tailored nutritional and fitness coaching plans based on a detailed analysis of body data and personal habits. As an example, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed the Hope app, which leverages AI to predict the weight loss success of participants and optimize the weight loss process in a healthy way based on specific parameters. For the most part though, such applications are still only being rolled out as trials.
Healthy food apps: the picture of health and sustainability
Until it gets to the point where we place our health in the hands of AI-based nutrition coaches, the healthy food apps currently on the market are proving to be valuable digital helpers for our nutrition. Not only do they provide us with an overview of our personal diet and eating habits, they also give us the tools to optimize our health and energy balance and contribute to a more sustainable way of living.