The term “healthy” seems pretty straight forward. If someone were to ask you, “Which of these foods is healthy, a Sugar Cereal or an avocado?” You would hesitate, because it sounds like a trick question. The average person would say “Avocado, of course.” But the FDA would say “Sugar Cereal”. So you would be technically wrong, according to Federal food regulations. The FDA does have a good reason for making this declaration, and it has to do with fat content.
In order to call something “healthy” you need to meet 4 parameters : Sodium, Cholesterol, Beneficial Nutrients (Vit.A & C, Iron, Calcium), Saturated Fat, and Fats. A fortified Sugar Cereal meets all the parameters for that, an avocado fails when it comes to fat. So no avocados
In all fairness, companies making items like Sugar Cereals, are not declaring them ‘healthy’, even though they meet the criteria. However, companies making avocado based products are trying to make healthy claims, but they can’t, because avocados exceed the fat limit. So, manufacturers and their legal teams are caught in a war of words with the FDA.
It seems like a quick fix, just make certain healthy fats exempt and start counting sugar and carbs. However, when it comes to federal regulation there is no quick fix. In the meantime, food manufacturers will have to continue to work with their legal teams in order to both comply with FDA regulations and showcase their “good for you” products.
For an more in depth look check out this Wall Street Journal article