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    Archive for the ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ Category

    Big Food Crimes: Farmwashing, Ruining Oatmeal

    By this point, Big Food’s nutritional rap sheet is longer than the ingredient list for Pop Tarts — and it only continues to grow.

    A recent stroll through supermarket aisles has uncovered even more felonies of deception and extreme processing.

    These products are considered armed (with lousy ingredients) and dangerous (for your health). If you spot them, do not approach them. Keep walking.

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    A ‘Healthy’, School-Approved Snickers Bar!

    As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I am currently in San Diego for the American Dietetic Association’s annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). Over the past two days, I took you on mini virtual tours of the vendor expo, where we visited the Sugar Association, the High Fructose Corn Syrup folks, Subway, Coca-Cola, and other “what are you doing at a nutrition conference?” booths.

    While plenty is ‘blog-worthy’, one particular Mars, Inc. product caught my eye: Marathon Smart Stuff Powered By Snickers bars.

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    American Heart Association – Selling Out Health to the Highest Bidder

    When it comes to heart health, there are specific nutrients to encourage (monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber — both soluble and insoluble) and limit (sodium, added sugar, trans fats, oils high in omega-6 fatty acids [corn, cottonseed, soybean], and refined grains).

    It has also been well established in the scientific literature that certain phytonutrients — naturally occurring substances in plant foods that confer their own health benefits —  offer cardiovascular protection.  Some examples include quercetin (in apple skins, red onion, and broccoli), ellagic acid (in strawberries and grapes), and lignans (in flax seed, sesame seeds, and barley).

    Alas, most of the products in your local supermarket that feature the American Heart Association’s stamp of approval (officially known as the “heart-check mark”), don’t prioritize heart-healthy nutrients and compounds.  In fact, they condone foods high in nutrients that are damaging to our cardiovascular health.

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    “Men’s Health” Stamp of Approval: First It Was Chocolate Milk, Now It’s Fast Food Burgers with Trans Fats

    How much stock would you put in a nutrition expert who suggested you drink chocolate milk and eat fast food burgers?  What if I told you this expert was nationally renowned as a trusted source of nutrition information, often appearing on television and radio as someone worth listening to?  Sadly, this is not just a hypothetical situation.

    Last week, I was flabbergasted when I came across a hyperbolic article by Men’s Health editor-in-chief David Zinczenko’s that painted chocolate milk as one of the absolute best things you can drink for your health, weight, and muscle mass.  This past weekend, I had another “you have GOT to be joking!” moment, thanks to a question tweeted to me by @matchmia.  The question: “what do you think of Hardee’s new turkey burger endorsed by Men’s Health?”.  Wait — what!?!

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    Health Hype on Aisle 5!

    gogurtAh, that ubiquitous marketing tactic known as the “health halo” appears to be multiplying.

    You know the drill.  Take minimally nutritious food, sprinkle one fiftieth of a pinch of “something healthy”, and market the living *bleep* out of said ingredient on the product’s packaging.

    Consider these recently-spotted offenders:

    • Cinnamon Chex.  “With a touch of real cinnamon,” no less.  Cinnamon offers fiber, manganese, and heart-healthy phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Alas, this cereal contains more sugar, oil, and salt than it does the sweet spice.
    • Betty Crocker Quick Banana Bread Mix.  “With real bananas,” the box touts.  The bananas are in there, alright.  As dried flakes.  Right after white flour, sugar, and partially hydrogenated oils.  PS: Each of the finished product’s twelve servings offers up an entire gram of trans fat.
    • Yoplait Go-Gurt Strawberry Splash & Berry Blue Blast portable yogurt flavor-combination packs. There isn’t a single strawberry or blueberry in either yogurt, not even in dehydrated or powdered form.  Instead, we get artificial dyes (the same ones banned by the European Union) and flavors.
    • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Sub Sandwich, Turkey and Cheddar.  This is described as “more wholesome” than previous varieties.  Does this ingredient list scream “wholesome” to you?

    Thank you to Small Bites intern Laura Smith for valuable assistance with this post.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Sugar in Peanut Butter

    smuckers_natural_pbI have noticed in perusing the plain old peanut butter jar labels that many have sugar (in the form of dextrose, I think), or oils like cottonseed oil. What’s up with that?

    It took a lot of label reading to find peanuts that had simply peanuts and salt listed as ingredients.

    — Susan (last name unknown)
    (Location Unknown)

    You can chalk that up to a term food companies love — “shelf stability”.

    If you can create a product that can sit on store and pantry shelves for months, you have an advantage in the market.

    Consumers love shelf stability because they don’t have to worry about a food product spoiling, and can also be transported at room temperature with minimal issues.

    Another important reason?  Texture.

    The oils added to peanut butter are partially — or, more recently, fully — hydrogenated, creating that familiarly uniform and spreadable texture.

    I always recommend “natural” nut butters, which simply contain the ground up nut and, in some cases, a pinch of salt.

    Since the naturally-occurring oil in these varieties separates, you need to stir the contents of the jar first, and then refrigerate for optimal storage and freshness.

    Although conventional peanut butter brands often get slammed for containing added sugar, their sugar content isn’t that high.  A standard two-tablespoon serving only offers 2 grams (a half teaspoon) of added sugar.

    I’m more concerned about the partially hydrogenated oils, especially since the oils used are ones with awful omega 6 to omega 3 ratios.

    Here in New York City, even conventional supermarkets carry one or two “natural” brands, mainly Smuckers and the generic White Rose label.

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