Junk Food is Still Junk Food

The world’s excessive consumption of junk food harms not only our collective health (and quality of life) but also causes direct and indirect environmental degradation, through habitat loss and increased pollution from agricultural fertilizers and pesticides to deforestation to make space for growing corn – to make ethanol and to feed ruminants that are ill-suited to it.

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We’ve all noticed this trend lately: “organic junk foods”. WTF? Just because whole grain crackers, “health” cookies, cakes & pastries, “lite” yogurts, corn chips and salt-reduced products are labeled organic doesn’t mean they are actually healthy…junk food is still junk food, whichever way you eat it! Another con is the current fad for “diet” sodas: this is food marketing deception at its worst.

Let’s look at the world’s number one food: the burger. First of all, much of what we hear in the MSM has been -bought- influenced by underhanded marketing tactics by the fast food companies, you know the ones…

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Lets’ see how nutritious a Big Mac is: if you have clicked on the link, it would tell you Fat 48.3%, Carbs 31.9%, Protein 18.5%. And it’s high in sodium. Add a medium-sized fries and regular soda and now you’re well over 1,000 calories. 1,130 to be exact. And believe me, I love a burger now and then but I would look for grass-fed mince. The fat in grass-fed beef contains higher proportions of CLA, which fights cancer, among other good things. It also has a better proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fats than grain-fed beef.

Michael Pollan:

“Perhaps the most serious thing that can go wrong with a ruminant on corn is feedlot bloat. The rumen is always producing copious amounts of gas, which is normally expelled by belching during rumination. But when the diet contains too much starch and too little roughage, rumination all but stops, and a layer of foamy slime that can trap gas forms in the rumen. The rumen inflates like a balloon, pressing against the animal’s lungs. Unless action is promptly taken to relieve the pressure (usually by forcing a hose down the animal’s esophagus), the cow suffocates. A corn diet can also give a cow acidosis. Unlike that in our own highly acidic stomachs, the normal pH of a rumen is neutral. Corn makes it unnaturally acidic, however, causing a kind of bovine heartburn, which in some cases can kill the animal but usually just makes it sick. Acidotic animals go off their feed, pant and salivate excessively, paw at their bellies and eat dirt. The condition can lead to diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system that leaves the animal vulnerable to everything from pneumonia to feedlot polio.”

Sodas & “diet” sodas: there’s absolutely nothing healthy about drinking diet soda or regular soda for that matter. The chemicals in the artificial sweeteners that are laden in the “diet” version or the addictive HFCS in the regular soda will get you either way.

There has been much debating about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), none better explained than in Translator’s excellent diary on this controversial subject. I say controversial because this has become a major ingredient in most processed foods, soft drinks, breads, cereals, cookies….it’s even in ketchup for Chrissake!

There’s a plethora of studies done in the last decade depicting long term use of HFCS can not only cause obesity, but also diabetes, premature aging, and a host of other health issues.

The latest study on HFCS, from Princeton University:

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

Only last week a customer asked for saccharine instead of regular sugar for her coffee. I happened to have a packet of Stevia tablets on hand and gave it to her. She declined and told me she only takes saccharine or Splenda. Undaunted I dropped two tablets into her cup and told her that if she didn’t like she wouldn’t have to pay for it. She loved the taste.

Splenda, IMO, is probably one of the worst offenders by claiming to be naturally healthy since it’s made from real sugar! Well, Splenda is actually a chemically modified substance where chlorine is added to the chemical structure, making it more similar to a chlorinated pesticide than something you would sweeten your coffee or tea with. Granted, artificial sweeteners are less calorific but because one uses it indiscriminately it can increase one’s appetite for all things sweets and end up promoting fat storage in the long run.

Another pet hate of mine is margarine or, as it’s been referred to lately as “good margarine made with plant sterols that actively reduce cholesterol”! Quite a mouthful. We all know that butter is not good in large quantities but…but…butter is better: in January this year, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released a meta-analysis that looked at all the prospective epidemiological studies looking at the relationship between dietary saturated fat intake and the risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Check the link for the results, and throw away the fake butter!

Even low quality butter is healthier than any margarine. One problem with butter is pesticides and hormones from improperly raised cows. But that’s another diary.

Other products to avoid, in no particular order:

Slim fast shakes (far from healthy…they’re actually loaded with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and God knows how many other chemicals)

Reduced-Fat or Low-Fat peanut butter. Well, that’s another con. Most commercial peanut butters are made with the same type of sugar that cake frosting is made with. Why not stick with natural peanut butter? It has only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. Eat wisely.

“Peanut butter spreads,” a relatively new category now allowed by FDA, contain only 60% peanuts, but are nutritionally equivalent to peanut butter (although they may contain more sugar or salt). Many companies introduced peanut butter spreads as a reduced-fat alternative to peanut butter. But today there also are real peanut butters on the market which are 25% reduced-fat and still contain at least 90% peanuts.

Protein bars which calls themselves “Scientifically Slim Body Engineered” are made with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and enough sugar to make you dizzy. There are some pure protein bars that are low carb and made with natural ingredients. It is important to research protein bars before buying them. Look at the nutritional profile and read the ingredients. They should have some form of protein blend or high quality whey, soy, or milk protein as one of the first ingredients. This tells you that it is high in quality protein, along with the protein content value on the nutritional value table.

“Fat Free” Rice Cakes leave me totally cold. I tried them and they really are nothing but pure refined starch with near zero fiber (which basically breaks down immediately into sugar, spiking insulin and promoting fat storage.)

This entry was posted in Ecology, Environmental Issue, Food. Bookmark the permalink.

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