Disease Proof

Snack Addiction

Heck, even I’m guilty of it sometimes. But, like most Eat to Livers, if I snack it’s usually on stuff like peanuts, berries, or grapes—very different from the rest of the country. Because, as Regina Nuzzo of The Los Angeles Times reports, Americans love our snack food. Read on:
About three-quarters of American shoppers are now trying to eat more healthfully, according to a recent survey by Information Resources Inc., a market analysis research group. About two-thirds are trying to replace high-calorie snacks with healthier options or eat snacks with more nutritional value. And 57% are flat-out trying to snack less often.

These trends have certainly caught the eye of the snack food industry, even being called "growing concerns" in a state of the industry report at Snaxpo, the annual meeting of the Snack Food Assn. in March.

So food manufacturers, always responsive to society's needs (or, more accurately, the changing marketplace), are scrambling to expand into the fastest-growing niche in the snack market: healthful snacks.

Well, not-so-unhealthful snacks.

No longer just the stuff of hippie health food stores, new better-for-you snacks are likely to be comforting favorites — or familiar variations thereof — rejiggered and repackaged to reflect the latest health concerns. Trans-fat free. Whole-grain goodness. Or fortified with flavanols.

But be forewarned: Some nutritionists question whether the new snacks will actually make consumers healthier. Unnecessary calories are unnecessary calories — whether they're "free of trans fats," made with "real fruit juice" or stuffed with vitamins most people get plenty of anyway.

Rejiggered? Great word. But I agree, and I think Dr. Fuhrman would too. Nutrient-rich foods aren’t manufactured in sterile clean rooms. They’re growing all around us and have been for millions of years. So, why must we constantly futz with nature?
Who knows? But as Dr. Fuhrman discusses in Eat to Live, you can’t just engineer wholesome food. From the book:
Refining foods removes so much nutrition that our government requires that a few synthetic vitamins and minerals be added back. Such foods are labeled as enriched or fortified. Whenever you see those words on a package, it means important nutrients are missing. Refining foods lowers the amount of hundreds of known nutrients, yet usually only five to ten are added by fortification.

As we change food through processing and refining, we rob the food of certain health-supporting substances and often create unhealthy compounds, thus making it more unfit food for human. As a general rule of thumb: the closer we eat foods to their natural state, the healither the food.
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