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Archive for the ‘sugar’ Category
How do you make sugary, genetically modified, minimally nutritious products appear wholesome and a “great start to the day”? Behold:
Subtitled “Your Refreshed Everyday Pocket Guide to Our Products and Our Commitment to Sustaining the Environment and Community,” it was one of the souvenirs I picked up at this year’s American Dietetic Association conference and expo.
The booklet – also available online – is a crash course in Big Beverage’s most common smoke-and-mirror tactics: vehement emphasis on physical activity, avoidance of nutrition issues, a framework of health centered solely around obesity and caloric intake, and rampant use of vague terms like “balance” and “moderation”.
As with computer operating systems or software programs, it is imperative to consistently update your Big Food BS detector. Below, I decode three of the latest misleading declarations making the rounds.
For my penultimate post relating to the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (fun wrap-up post tomorrow!), I want to focus on the rhetoric one often hears at Big Food booths.
Whereas companies that sell real, whole food products focus on what they are actually selling (be it hemp seeds, green tea, or snacks made from whole, non-GMO ingredients), Big Food tends to rely on hype and deflection.
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.
Although millions of Americans are increasingly becoming aware of nutrition’s vital role in cardiovascular health, blood pressure regulation, and blood sugar control, that same paradigm is nowhere near as widespread when it comes to learning and comprehension disabilities.
For this guest post, I asked Judy Converse, an established expert on the subject matter, to provide an overview of how proper — and improper! — nutrition can affect children with ADD, dyslexia, and other conditions she commonly works with in her private practice.
Defined as “conducive to bodily health; healthful; salubrious,” the word ‘wholesome’ counts “nourishing” and “nutritious” among its synonyms. It appears Big Food is blissfully ignorant to these facts, at least based on the horrific “kids’ food” concoctions they have branded as “wholesome”. Behold the worst offenders:
Some nutritional horror figures don’t exactly come as a surprise. No one is particularly shocked when told that an order of Burger King’s large fries packs in 580 calories, or that a large Wendy’s chocolate frosty shake clocks in at 890 calories and contains almost as much added sugar as three cans of Coke.
It’s not just the large sizes that come with jaw-dropping nutritional values. In fast food world, “just go with a small” advice goes out the (drive-thru) window. Below, my three picks for “yes, really, those numbers are for the SMALL size!”
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.
“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!?!
It’s certainly a tweet-worthy item. A small (16 oz.) one contains almost 13 teaspoons of added sugar, while a large (32 oz.) contributes no less than 25 teaspoons of sugar.
The 25-ingredient list also caught my eye. Check it out:
Frozen Neutral Base [Water, Neutral Base (Sugar, Glucose, Fructose, Silicon Dioxide, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum)], Mountain Dew Coolatta Concentrate [Treated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Orange Juice Concentrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Alcohol, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Caffeine, Sodium Benzoate (preserves freshness), Gum Arabic, Sodium Citrate, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), Erythorbic Acid (preserves freshness), Yellow 5, Brominated Vegetable Oil].
You know it’s a bad sign when you make a can of Mountain Dew seem like “the sensible choice”. We’ve got the usual suspects here — a myriad of sugar synonyms, artificial flavors, all sorts of multi-syllabic additives, petroleum-based dyes, and the belle of the processed-food ball: high fructose corn syrup.
While those red flag ingredients are familiar to many, it is that last ingredient — brominated vegetable oil — that most people aren’t aware of. And, in this case, what you don’t know may indeed hurt you.
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One of my co-workers is obsessed with these cookies and brownies made by The Protein Bakery. He says they’re good for you because they are made with oats and because they’re high in protein and low in carbs.
What do you think of them?
— Rob (Last name withheld)
As regular readers of Small Bites know, few things make me as giddy as pulling back the curtains on Big Food and its desperate attempts to make run-of-the-mill treats seem like health food.
That said, I am an equal-opportunity critic of nutrition nonsense, so when I see a company — whether it’s a corporate giant or an independent family-owned one — with their hands in the proverbial “focus on one ingredient and call our sugar-laden product healthy” cookie jar, I feel a need to call them out. Which brings me to The Protein Bakery.
Food companies love to market what I refer to as “gendered foods”; that is, products that perpetuate the classic (and socially constructed) “this is for boys, this is for girls” dichotomy.
Despite their proclamations of “addressing a particular concern” to a particular segment of the population, these gendered products are, in all actuality, “unisex” ones backed with highly gendered marketing campaigns. In a 2009 post, I briefly touched upon “his” and “hers” vitamins. This time around, let’s examine three of the bigger gendered food players.