Diet Detective: iPhone Apps You Can Use For Your Health

by Charles Platkin, PhD


Producer: Fooducate. The company was founded by Hemi Weingarten, a tech entrepreneur, foodie and father of three young children.
Price: Free
Ratings: 184 ratings / 4.5 stars
Coolness Factor: I was shown this app by a colleague at Hunter College in New York City and was really impressed. It’s more than just a neat party trick and will surprise even top nutrition gurus. You simply hold the phone over the bar code of a food product and it scans the food into your phone and gives you nutrition information and a rating.
Overview (from the App producer):

  • Automatically scan a product bar code.
  • See product highlights (both good & bad).
  • Compare products.
  • Select better alternatives.
  • Dig deeper and learn more about food and nutrition.
  • Uses iPhone’s camera to effortlessly scan UPC bar code.
  • Over 200,000 unique products and growing daily.
  • Works on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Fooducate analyzes information found in each product’s nutrition panel and ingredient list. You get to see the stuff manufacturers don’t want you to notice, such as excessive sugar, trans fats, additives and preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup and controversial food colorings.

Instant Heart Rate

Producer: Azumio
Price: Free
Ratings: 49 ratings / 3.5 stars
Coolness Factor: I’m fascinated by heart-rate monitors, and while this app doesn’t really help while you are exercising, at the very least it can show how fast your heart is recovering from exercise.
Overview (from the App producer):

Instant Heart Rate is the most accurate heart-rate monitor app for iPhone and it does not need any external hardware. Independently tested by nurses, MDs, EMTs and fitness coaches. Easy to use: takes less than 10 seconds from opening the app to getting a reading. Place your finger gently over the camera. Hold it steady for at least 10 seconds. Your current heart rate will be shown on the display. It works by tracking color changes in the light that passes through your finger.

Nike Training Club

Producer: Nike
Price: Free
Ratings: 408 ratings / 4.5 stars
Coolness Factor: It’s really amazing that this is a free application. Great workouts and well designed.
Overview (from the App producer):

Nike Training Club is a full-body training app designed for you to make yourself whatever you want to be. Whether you’re looking to get lean, toned or strong, NTC takes every workout to the next level. Inspired by world-class athletes and developed by a Nike professional trainer, each one of the 90+ drills builds on the fundamentals of strength, cardio, interval and core training.

  • Designed for iPhone and iPod Touch, it has more than 60 custom-built workouts for getting lean, toned and strong, featuring audio guidance from a Nike Trainer.
  • Women select their goal and fitness level. Based on their criteria, the app suggests a list of 15-minute, 30-minute or 45-minute workouts to choose from.
  • Detailed breakdowns of every workout give step-by-step instructions as well as video demonstrations for the more than 90 drills in the app.
  • Women can work out to the tracks they love from their own music library while they receive audio instruction from the Nike Trainer throughout the entire workout.
  • Progress is logged with timestamps for every workout, and hitting certain milestones unlocks rewards. The more women train, the more they will be rewarded.


Producer: Abvio
Price: $4.99
Ratings: 27 ratings / 5 stars
Coolness Factor: Really great that all you need is your iPhone, no attachments, and it keeps track of everything using GPS. If you’re a walker or hiker, you’ll appreciate this app. You can actually see the route you’re walking in real time on a Google map — pretty amazing. Overview (from the App producer):

  • Automatic stop detection removes stopped time from your statistics.
  • Remote control using your earphone remote keeps you from fumbling with your iPhone at the start and finish.
  • All of your workouts may be viewed by route or on a calendar and summarized by day, week, month, year and overall.
  • Import allows you to preload routes or import other people’s workouts to compete against.
  • Export allows you to save detail and summary information in CSV, GPX and KML formats.
  • Ghost racing lets you compete against your best, median and worst workouts, or against imported competitors.
  • Twitter, Facebook, dailymile and e-mail updates enable your friends to view your progress.
  • Google Maps are updated every few minutes to keep your friends and family informed of your location.

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal

Producer: MyFitnessPal
Price: Free
Ratings: 14,045 ratings / 5 stars
Coolness Factor: Knowing the number of calories and nutritional content of the foods you eat is key to any food diary. If you have trouble finding out what’s in what you ate, you’re really not keeping track. This has a good database of food plus lots of other good stuff.
Overview (from the App producer)

  • Fully syncs with the Web, so you can log on from your computer or your phone, whichever is more convenient. Plus, your data is backed up online so you never lose it.
  • Diet with your friends — add friends and easily track and support each other’s progress.
  • Works offline.


  • 750,000+ food database, plus streamlined database available offline. Updated daily.
  • Track all major nutrients: calories, fat, protein, carbs, sugar, fiber, cholesterol and more.
  • Frequently used foods automatically remembered for easy access.
  • Save and reuse entire meals.
  • Recipe calculator: Enter your own recipes and calculate their nutritional contents.
  • Add multiple items at once — no other app has this.
  • Create an unlimited number of custom foods.


  • Customized goals based on your specific diet profile — age, gender, activity level, etc.
  • Enter your own goals if you’ve gotten specific recommendations from a doctor, nutritionist, etc.


  • Track your weight, measurements and more.
  • View charts of your progress over time for motivation.
  • Daily nutritional summary with all major nutrients.
  • View more detailed reports online at

CSPI Chemical Cuisine

Producer: Center for Science in the Public Interest, nonprofit
Price: 99 cents
Ratings: 9 ratings / 4 stars
Coolness Factor: Not that fantastic, and if you have an Internet connection you can get this online — but for the pure convenience of having it on your phone, it’s interesting.
Overview (from the App producer):

Chemical Cuisine, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, features a searchable and filterable list of food additives, their descriptions and safety ratings to help you make healthy decisions. Learn about a new additive every time you start up the app on the Home screen. When CSPI updates or adds new information about a food additive, the Chemical Cuisine app will let you know by displaying a badge on the additive.

  • Over 130 food additives with detailed entries and expert evaluation.
  • No Internet connection required to use.
  • Automatically updated any time you have an Internet connection with latest entry updates.
    Rate this post

    You may also like

    Subscribe To The Weekly Food & Nutrition News and Research Digest
    Our weekly email news and research digest is everything you need to know about food, nutrition, fitness and health.
    No Thanks
    Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
    We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will NEVER be shared.
    Don't miss out. Subscribe today.