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Food Facts. Food Fiction

Forage for the truth in the grocery aisle

By Robert Beauchamps

With so many food-buying dollars at stake and with so many so-called experts pitching the latest nutrition trend, it’s tough to separate food gospel from food fiction. This is where we cut the fat and get to the meat of the matter: Know what you eat.

Trans Fats Bad

Chemically altered fats using high heat, high pressure, and hydrogen gas? Talk about Frankenfood. Moreover, trans fats tend to lower HDL (“good” cholesterol), cause insulin resistance, and build belly bulge.

Whole Foods Good

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors never encountered ingredients like palm oil, sodium benzoate or butylated hydroxyanisole. On their menu? Meat. Plants. Simple. These days, any food coming out of a factory barely resembles food at all. And because of all of those empty calories, we tend to eat much more of it than our bodies need.

Mega Doses of Omega-3

Unfortunately, we can’t produce our own Omega-3 fatty acids even though we need them for optimal brain and body function. Adding fish and eggs to the weekly menu will cure that deficiency.

Nothing Sweet About Refined Sugar

Sugar in the form of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup is as unhealthy as it is ubiquitous. It takes work to avoid them in the modern North American diet. And not only are they empty calories, they increases the risk of everything from diabetes and weight gain to bad skin and hypertension.

Kick Refined Carbs to the Curb

Carbs. For some, they’re just below mosquitoes on the list of loathing. Others say carb calories are essential. The fact is, unprocessed carb sources are, at the very least, less bad than their refined counterparts. Take grains: having both bran and germ intact is best since these parts contain the most nutrients and all of the fibre. Plus they take longer to digest and make you feel fuller longer.

Mom Knows Best: Eat Your Veggies

Vegetables are healthy. Calorie for calorie, they’re the most nutritious foods out there. Period. Now go hug a farmer.

Won’t be Fooled Again

The food industry doesn’t lie per se. It’s more like massaging the facts. Take instant, flavoured oatmeal. They’re oats all right, but half the packet is powder, which is essentially sugar and artificial flavourings. And the chicken topping your salad you so conscientiously chose from the fast-food menu? It contains a mound of preservatives not to mention myriad monikers only scientists can decipher.

All that to say, always read nutrition labels and look up the ingredients and nutritional info when possible. If something as simple as tomato soup has 48 ingredients you can’t pronounce, move along. And be wary of misnomers like “all-natural” and “artisan” or “made with real fruit juice.” Food companies and their creative team of product-pushers have found 101 ways to slip though legal loopholes with clever wording.

Winter 2015, Vol 7 N°1

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