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    Archive for the ‘Diet Coke with Fiber’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: "50 Worst Foods" List

    What do you think about this list of 50 foods with almost zero nutritional value linked to on Serious Eats’ Twitter page?

    — Kristin (last name withheld)
    (Location withheld)

    I have many, many problems with it.

    Not only does it not present particularly new information, it is also poorly written and makes a significant number of inaccurate statements and sweeping generalizations.

    For example:

    Potato Chips are fried and packed with tons of preservatives to keep them fresh for months.

    Not quite. Many potato chips are made up of simply potatoes, oil, and salt (salt being the preservative!).

    Therefore, it is absolutely inaccurate to say they are packed with “tons” of preservatives.

    Additionally, while potato chips do not offer as much nutrition as a baked potato with its skin on, your typical serving does contain as much potassium as a medium banana.

    This list also claims that pasta has “zero nutritional value”.

    Not so! Non-whole grain pasta may not be very high in fiber, but it still contains protein as well as some B vitamins and iron (as a result of enrichment.)

    It is ridiculous to claim that a food with that sort of nutritional profile has “almost zero” nutritional value.

    Then there’s this odd inclusion:

    Fried seafood like shrimp, clams, and lobster contain high trans fat. They also contain mercury and possibly parasites.”

    Awkward phrasing aside, this is plain wrong.

    Trans fat is only an issue if those foods are fried in an oil high in trans fats. As far as mercury is concerned, it is the large predatory fish that are a concern, not bottom-of-the-sea dwellers.

    And as far as parasites are concerned — that may be an issue from a food safety perspective depending on how these foods are eaten (although who eats raw lobster??), but that has nothing to do with the nutritional quality of a food.

    How about this vague tidbit:

    Breakfast or cereal bars are low in fat but high in sugar. They offer very little in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

    This greatly varies on the brand. Many cereal bars offer 4 or 5 grams of fiber, little added sugar, and a handful of vitamins and minerals.

    Another example that left me scratching my head:

    Oreo Cookies contain about 60% of fat and extremely high in Tran’s [sic] fat. The filling packs on an additional 160 calories per cookie.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

    First of all, a single Oreo cookie contains 53 calories. The “Double Stuf” variety adds up to 70 calories per cookie. Hence, this notion that the filling alone contains 160 calories is absolutely off-base.

    It is also inaccurate to claim that Oreos are “extremely high in trans fats.”

    Although partially hydrogenated oil is included on the ingredient list, the food label lists 0 grams per serving. This means that, at most, Oreos contain 0.4 grams of trans fat per serving (for all we know, it could be 0.09 grams).

    I do not consider that to be “extremely high.”

    I could go on and on. Alas, I can’t fathom why a website like Serious Eats would find that list worthy of linking to.

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    FNCE 2008: Diet Coke and Splenda Drop The F Bomb

    Fiber and whole grains were undisputed royalty at this year’s American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.

    Cereals, corn chips, crackers, cookies, and protein powders breathlessly advertised their inclusion in ingredient lists.

    I certainly was not expecting, however, to come across fiber in Splenda and Diet Coke.

    The Splenda folks — who, oddly enough, suggest sprinkling their non-caloric sweetener over fresh fruit — are making the case that this is one easy way for Americans (who are currently getting, on average, half of their recommended fiber intake) to boost their fiber consumption.

    With each packet containing 1 gram of fiber, two packets in your morning coffee and another over your breakfast cereal puts you at the 3 gram mark (as much as an apple, they exclaim.)

    Coca Cola, meanwhile, will be releasing Diet Coke Plus With Fiber around March or April of 2010.

    Apart from the vitamin and mineral combination found in Diet Coke Plus, this beverage will contain 5 grams of soluble fiber (all derived from corn) per 20 ounce bottle.

    Splenda and Coca Cola have their marketing pitch perfected.

    “We’re simply helping people get the amount of fiber they need!” they explain (with puppy dog eyes, I’m sure.)

    I’m not as optimistic.

    While the idea of including fiber in Diet Coke may appeal to some people, it serves as a complete deterrent to get it from unprocessed, whole foods that offer multitudes of other nutrients, phytochemicals, and health benefits.

    As much as Splenda wants to make the case that three packets of their sweetener contain as much fiber as an apple, it’s a meaningless comparison.

    An apple is more than just fiber in a round shape.

    It contains vitamin C, potassium, and a significant number of antioxidants, among them quercetin and epicatechin (the former has been associated with reduced cellular damage, the latter with improved blood flow.)

    By relying on fortified empty calorie foods for specific nutrients, you are missing out on hundreds of health-promoting components.

    What’s most mind-boggling to me is that these products give the false idea that fiber is just so gosh darn hard to find, that there’s no choice but to stick it inside a soda bottle.

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