May 11

A food fight is brewing


Help your customers and be sued. (Photos.com)

It might be corny and a bit naive, but I recommend that eating a diet found as close as possible to what is found in nature makes good sense. This means, of course, avoiding, when we can, substances not to be found naturally in the food chain. Perhaps rather predictably, science supports this notion. For instance, the much-reviled but naturally-occurring saturated fat found in red meat and eggs has no strong links with disease, while industrially produced trans fats do.

So, when the food industry introduces a novel food or food ingredient into our diet I admit I generally come at it from a skeptical perspective. This is the case when all the ingredient is doing is making a food a bit bluer or redder or extending its shelf life or palatability. However, I become even more suspicious when claims are made that some new-fangled foodstuff is better for us than, perhaps, something that we’ve had in our diet forever.

Let us not forget, for instance, that the partially hydrogenated fats from which industrially produced trans fats are derived were originally sold to us as a healthy alternative to saturated fat (and what a load of rubbish that turned out to be).

Another example of where we have been sold a bit of a dummy by the food industry concerns artificial sweeteners. In the past I have attempted to highlight the science that shows that artificial sweeteners have considerable potential to cause harm, and at the same time, do not appear to have any obvious benefits for health.

These particular posts have focused mainly on the potential hazards of the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet, Canderel, Equal). One of the reasons I’ve focused so much on aspartame is that most of the published research on artificial sweeteners has focused on this particular substance. Continue reading »

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