When it comes to health, there are no guarantees. But you can hedge your bets by knowing how to eat healthy and lower your risk of illness.

Don’t be surprised if some of these questions seem tough. A few answers aren’t even from Nutrition Action (which you’ve no doubt memorized).

Each question has only one answer. Good luck!


1. Which is MOST likely to lower the risk of breast cancer?
a. Avoiding soy foods
b. Eating garlic and onions
c. Taking fish oil
d. Eating fruits and vegetables
e. Taking bioidentical hormones

2. A daily serving of which food is MOST likely to lead to weight gain? (Each has around 100 calories.)
a. Cheddar cheese
b. Banana
c. White bread
d. Vanilla yogurt
e. Orange juice

3. What is MOST likely to reverse type 2 diabetes in some people?
a. Losing excess weight
b. High-intensity exercise
c. Chromium supplements
d. Cinnamon supplements

4. A deficiency of which vitamin can lead to dementia?
a. Vitamin A
b. Vitamin B-6
c. Vitamin B-12
d. Vitamin C
e. Vitamin D

5. Four of these heart attack symptoms are more common in women than in men. Which one isn’t?
a. Shortness of breath
b. Pain in the back, neck, or jaw
c. Nausea
d. Indigestion
e. Chest pain

6. A daily serving of which food is MOST likely to help keep you regular?
a. Whole wheat bread
b. Bran flakes
c. Apple
d. Broccoli
e. Fiber gummies

7. Which low-calorie sweetener is the LEAST safe?
a. Allulose
b. Aspartame
c. Erythritol
d. Sorbitol
e. Stevia extract

8. Which foodborne germ is LEAST likely to be killed by alcohol-based hand sanitizer?
a. Salmonella
b. Campylobacter
c. Norovirus
d. Listeria

9. A daily serving of which food is LEAST likely to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol?
a. Oatmeal
b. Black beans
c. Walnuts
d. 95% lean ground beef
e. Mayonnaise

10. Most older adults need all but one of these vaccines. Which one?
a. Covid
b. Flu
c. Human papillomavirus
d. Shingles
e. Pneumonia

11. Organic foods promise all but one of these. Which one?
a. No added pesticides
b. No added fertilizers
c. No added antibiotics
d. No added growth hormones
e. More nutrients

12. High doses of which supplement may raise the risk of prostate cancer?
a. Vitamin E
b. Vitamin D
c. Vitamin A
d. Iron
e. Magnesium

13. Which of these foods has the LEAST amount of protein?
a. Egg (1)
b. Cream cheese (1 oz.)
c. Beans (½ cup)
d. Quinoa (1 cup)
e. Spaghetti (1 cup)

14. In clinical trials, antioxidant supplements (like vitamins C and E) reduced the risk or progression of what?
a. Heart disease
b. Lung cancer
c. Colon cancer
d. Memory loss
e. Vision loss

15. Which restaurant dish is MOST likely to have fewer than 1,200 calories?
a. Kung Pao chicken
b. Lasagna
c. Chicken pad Thai
d. Moussaka
e. Tandoori chicken

16. Antibiotics can treat which of these infections?
a. Colds
b. Flu
c. Covid-19
d. Urinary tract infections
e. E. coli O157:H7

17. Which foodborne germ can grow in refrigerated food?
a. Salmonella
b. Campylobacter
c. Listeria
d. Norovirus
e. E. coli O157:H7

18. Producing a serving of which food creates far more greenhouse gasses than the others?
a. Beef
b. Pork
c. Poultry
d. Cheese
e. Beans

19. Which has the LEAST added sugar per serving?
a. Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream
b. Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
c. Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream
d. Talenti Madagascan Vanilla Bean Gelato
e. Häagen-Dazs Mango Sorbet

20. A daily serving of which food is LEAST likely to raise the risk of colon cancer?
a. Uncured bacon
b. Deli sliced turkey breast
c. Lox (smoked salmon)
d. Uncured beef franks
e. Tuna salad

21. Which plant milk has roughly as much protein as dairy milk?
a. Almond
b. Coconut
c. Oat
d. Pea
e. Rice

22. Which will NOT help you consume fewer microplastics?
a. Buying fewer items wrapped in plastic
b. Drinking bottled water
c. Avoiding plastic tea bags
d. Storing food in glass containers

23. Which food can interfere with many medicines?
a. Oat milk
b. Coconut milk
c. Grapefruit juice
d. Grape juice
e. Applesauce

24. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of all but one of these. Which one?
a. Liver cancer
b. Parkinson’s disease
c. Type 2 diabetes
d. Heart disease

25. Which supplement do health authorities recommend for anyone who could become pregnant?
a. Calcium
b. Folic acid
c. Iron
d. Vitamin D


1. d (Eating fruits and vegetables). The evidence isn’t ironclad, but fruits and vegetables are consistently linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. Taking postmenopausal hormones raises risk, and bioidentical hormones are no safer. There’s no good evidence that eating garlic, onions, or fish oil or avoiding soy lowers risk.

2. e (Orange juice). The calories in liquids don’t curb your appetite as well as those in solid foods.

3. a (Losing excess weight). High-intensity exercise, bariatric surgery, weight-loss drugs, or a low-carb diet could also work, but only if they lead to sufficient weight loss.

4. c (Vitamin B-12). Experts recommend that vegans and anyone over age 50 get at least 2.4 micrograms a day of B-12 from either a supplement or food with added B-12. Older people may have too little stomach acid to absorb the naturally occurring B-12 in meat, dairy, and eggs.

5. e (Chest pain). Chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women. The other symptoms are more common in women than in men. (See womenshealth.gov/heart-disease-and-stroke.)

6. b (Bran flakes). They have more fiber (7 grams) per serving than the other foods (3 to 4 grams). Fiber gummies made with inulin or soluble corn fiber are less likely to keep you regular.

7. b (Aspartame). Aspartame has caused cancer in animal studies. The other sweeteners are safe, though too much allulose or sorbitol can cause diarrhea. (See chemicalcuisine.org.)

8. c (Norovirus). Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer doesn’t kill Cryptosporidium or C. diff either.

9. d (95% lean ground beef). The fiber in oatmeal and beans—and the unsaturated fats in walnuts and mayo—lower LDL. Lean ground beef raises LDL less than fattier beef, but it doesn’t beat plant foods, poultry, or seafood.

10. c (Human papillomavirus). The CDC recommends vaccines for pneumonia if you’re 65 or older, for shingles if you’re 50 or older, for Covid if you’re 12 or older, and for HPV if you’re 11 to 26 (or, if you were never vaccinated, up to age 45). Adults also need a yearly flu shot and a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years. (See www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched.)

11. e (More nutrients). No synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, growth hormones, or antibiotics can be used to grow organic foods. Some may have more nutrients, but there’s no guarantee.

12. a (Vitamin E). Men who were randomly assigned to take 400 IU a day of vitamin E for 5½ years had a 17 percent higher risk of prostate cancer 3 years after the study ended than men who were given a placebo.

13. b (Cream cheese). A serving has 2 grams of protein. That’s less than a serving of spaghetti (9 grams), beans (8 grams), or quinoa (8 grams), or an egg (6 grams).

14. e (Vision loss). Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc lower the risk that macular degeneration will get worse, but only in people with intermediate macular degeneration. High doses of beta-carotene increase the risk of lung cancer in current and former smokers. Antioxidant vitamins have had no effect on other cancers, memory loss, heart disease, or stroke.

15. a (Kung Pao chicken). In a 2013 study of non-chain restaurants, main dishes (with sides) averaged roughly 1,300 calories. Kung Pao chicken (1,150 calories) had less than moussaka (1,440), chicken pad Thai (1,480), lasagna (1,530), and tandoori chicken (1,850).

16. d (Urinary tract infections). Antibiotics don’t kill viruses (colds, Covid, flu). But they do kill the bacteria that cause UTIs (though many infections are now resistant to some antibiotics). E. coli O157:H7 is also a bacteria, but antibiotics may increase the risk of life-threatening complications.

17. c (Listeria). It can grow on deli meats, smoked fish, soft cheeses, and other refrigerated foods. Listeriosis can cause miscarriages in pregnant women and symptoms like fever, diarrhea, headache, and stiff neck.

18. a (Beef). A serving of beef creates roughly 4 times more greenhouse gasses than pork, 9 times more than poultry, 11 times more than cheese, and 80 times more than beans.

19. a (Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream). A 2/3-cup serving of Breyers (170 calories) has 3½ teaspoons of added sugar. Ben & Jerry’s (330 calories) has 5 tsp., the Häagen-Dazs ice cream (340 calories) has 5½ tsp., Talenti (260 calories) has 5½ tsp., and the Häagen-Dazs sorbet (200 calories) has 9½ tsp.

20. e (Tuna salad). People who average 2 oz. a day of cured, smoked, or other processed meats—like bacon, hot dogs, or deli meats—have an 18 percent higher risk of colon cancer than people who eat none. That includes processed poultry or fish. Most “uncured” or “no added nitrites or nitrates” meats still contain those additives from ingredients like celery powder.

21. d (Pea). Much of the protein in Silk Protein (10 grams per cup) and Ripple (8 grams) comes from peas. Soy milks (6 to 8 grams) also rival dairy milk (8 grams). Most other plant milks have only 1 to 3 grams.

22. b (Drinking bottled water). Avoiding water sold in plastic bottles is the chief way to consume fewer microplastics.

23. c (Grapefruit juice). It interferes with an enzyme that metabolizes about half of all medicines.

24. d (Heart disease). Coffee’s benefits are still unproven, but people who consume more regular or decaf have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. Only caffeinated coffee is linked to a lower risk of Parkinson’s.

25. b (Folic acid). This B vitamin lowers the risk of neural tube birth defects like spina bifida. Because those defects occur early in pregnancy and half of all pregnancies are unplanned, experts advise anyone who could become pregnant to take a daily supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid. (See cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/about.html.)

How'd you do?

21–25: Really??? Definite refrigerator-magnet material.
14–20: Impressive. You’ve been studying, right?
6–13: Hang in there. Bet you learned a lot, though.
0–5: Hmm. Take 2 Nutrition Actions and call us in the morning.

Photos (top to bottom): stock.adobe.com: Svyatoslav Lypynskyy, michaeljung, zinkevych, Nitr, Monkey Business, Brent Hofacker, sugar0607.