Right off the bat I need to admit to something - I tend to become, well, I guess "passionate" is the polite way of describing it, when discussing food. I get quite frustrated with all of the media and advertising surrounding what is healthy and what isn't.
But you might be thinking, this product has the "Health Check" symbol on it so it must be healthy! No, no it does not.
If a food says it's healthy, it probably isn't.
I say this quite a lot, and it pretty much sums up all my frustration with the food industry. What do I mean by this? Let me explain with a few examples:
The next time you're at the grocery store, swing by the Kraft Dinner section and check out the new addition to the pretty blue box. Yup, that's a "Sensible Solutions" symbol on it. Kraft has let us know that if you make this incredibly processed food product with skim milk and margarine (2 more incredibly processed food products), then according to their standards, it's a healthy choice! Or, as they like to call it, a "better-for-you" choice. Wow, thanks for letting us know Kraft!
This processed food product is a pet peeve of mine, especially the "healthy" margarines. You know, the ones with the "Health Check" symbol on it. That symbol costs a lot of money and they're very proud of it! (btw, the standards aren't nearly as high as the price paid for that symbol). The healthy margarines claim to be trans-fat free (although chances are high they still contain some trans-fat), high in omega-3s, and everything else under the sun. My problem with all margarines is a basic one - for polyunsaturated fats to be solid at room temperature they MUST under go quite a lot of processing. These fats are not very stable and do not handle this processing very well....so how could it possibly be better for you than butter?
As well, a new study that followed over 300,000 people was published this month, and found no increased risk of heart disease with the consumption of saturated fat. This is a significant finding (but not a surprise to whole food community :). So what would you choose? A minimally processed saturated fat that has been in our diet for millennia, or a highly processed polyunsaturated fat that is new to our diet? I will choose butter over margarine every time.
These are just 2 examples of very unhealthy foods that are screaming to us that they're healthy. Most realize that no matter how you cook it, Kraft Dinner isn't healthy, but these "healthy symbols" just add to the confusion at the grocery store.
Make it easy - any food that is being advertised, healthy or not, tends to be processed and is no longer a whole food. Why? Simply put; products have advertising budgets, and whole foods aren't products. An apple can't afford a multi-million (or billion) dollar ad campaign. Broccoli can't afford (and doesn't need) fancy new packaging that screams all of its health benefits. When a food says to us "Pick me! I'm healthy! See how I'm high in fibre, low in fat, and healthy!” they are actually telling us that they are processed and are no longer whole foods. As always, there are exceptions to this rule, but it's always a good place to start. :)
Let's make grocery shopping easier! Eat whole, unprocessed food. Fruit, vegetables, whole and fresh meats (instead of processed or frozen), full fat dairy, and whole grains. Eat FOOD! Real and amazingly tasty FOOD!
If you'd like to know more about your food and how it's produced, watch the documentary Food Inc. It has some wonderful insights and solutions to our food problems.
And, remember, Eat More Real Food!