• judy

Say NO to Fake Foods

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

I almost bought a plastic pumpkin for decorating a table. It was merely $2. Cheap enough. Then I spotted a real pumpkin. It was $2. It was the real thing. Plus, I can cook and eat it after I change the table décor. Why do we settle so much for plastic, fake stuff when the real thing is better for you and is often as cheap or cheaper?


On my last visit to the supermarket I noticed that organic whole grain rolled oats was about 2 cents cheaper per serving than the name brand “instant” oatmeal. The “plain” instant packet seemed o.k. to eat, but for the many who might choose the packet with apple and cinnamon they would consume 11 grams of sugar. That is already close to half the recommended daily intake limit for women and a third of the daily limit recommended for men. Why start the day with a sugar handicap? Is it “convenience” v. health?


“Mixes” for baked goods are often an ultra-processed witch’s brew of chemicals. Would Grandma put sugar and oil chips dyed blue in her blueberry muffins instead of berries? Yet that’s exactly what you get when you buy the Martha White Blueberry muffin mix. Their first ingredients are listed as: Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Artificial Blueberry Bits (Dextrose, Palm Oil, Pregelatinized Yellow Corn Flour, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Red 40 Lake And Blue 2 Lake). The list of unnatural ingredients goes on. Perhaps they are cheaper than whole grain and real berry muffins. But why pay anything for fake food? Why make your body work to use ingredients that lack the strengths and values that natural foods have?


Are we comfortable making Jello brand vanilla pudding with its ingredients of tetrasodium pyrophosphate, salt, mono- and diglycerides (contains propyl gallate and citric as antioxidants), titanium dioxide (for color), natural and artificial flavoring? The website www.fooducate.com states that people with allergies, among others, “should pay special attention to the phrase "natural flavorings" since glutamates, animal products or allergens may be the source of natural flavors.”


Ultra-processed food products are widespread in our food products. Health problems related to poor nutrition have grown apace.


Food research highlights the problems. For example, Dr Carlos Monteiro from Brazil reported findings that high consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) is associated with increased risks of obesity and diabetes. Colleague Dr. Anthony Fardet reported that minimally-processed foods were less hyperglycemic, and more satiating. They were among researchers who found minimally processed foods had better nutrient profiles, and other positive qualities. Dr. Monteiro concluded “that food health potential should be first defined by its degree of processing.”


Interesting research by Dr. Fardet found a difference in health effects between fresh fruit and processed fruit. As stated in Nutrition Reviews February 2019 “Fresh and dried fruits appeared to have a neutral or protective effect on health, 100% fruit juices had intermediary effects, and high consumption of canned fruit and sweetened fruit juice was positively associated with the risk of all-cause mortality and type 2 diabetes, respectively.”


What to do? We as consumers are unlikely to avoid all ultra-processed food. We’ll sometimes buy the fake cheese or frozen dessert product that makes our life easier when we are too tired to process some cashews or too find other healthier substitutes. However, we can keep our focus on avoiding very processed foods with unpronounceable chemical ingredients. Instead, let’s CHOOSE NATURAL! Yes! Bar zombie unreal foods. Be careful.

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