What makes a food healthy? Are there foods that are healthy for the general population and others not? Are the ones who are unhealthy are processed products? Do you know society what a “healthy food”? There are many questions to ask us when buying, cooking and eating, and yet have ambiguous answers or they had a strong response.
And it is that even the Food & Drug Administration (FDA, US agency responsible for food safety) a few months ago has had to rethink the definition of “healthy” because the population does not have very clear what you mean and labeling of food products does not help to clarify the term. What is it that makes even healthy food?
Granola, healthy or unhealthy
We go with a concrete example: the granola. According to the RAE granola (comes from the trademark Granola) it is a “composite of rolled oats and other cereals, nuts mixed with food.” Seen this way seems a healthy food; the problem is that’s not all we found when we bought the granola in the supermarket.
The New York Times has published an article where they talk about food that (American, of course) society considers healthy and compares them with the appreciation of nutritionists. The food that more people and less nutritionist considered healthy was precisely the granola bars or cereal bars.
And it is that if we go to see the list of ingredients of one of these cereal bars (specifically a company to which the FDA has already warned that should stop labeled as “healthy” for its fat) we find with this:
Ingredients: cereals whole grain (oats, millet, rice, wheat, amaranth, sorghum, quinoa, oatmeal), syrup, tapioca starch , cane syrup, honey, canola oil, cocoa mass, sugar, rice syrup comprehensive, acacia, sea salt, natural flavors, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, soy lecithin, vitamin E (to maintain freshness).
Whole grains are the main ingredient (found in the first place), but after them comes the second ingredient syrup tapioca, which is basically sugar (remember that not always called sugar, but sugar after all ) . Behind him, another sugar: cane syrup, and another, honey. A little vegetable oil, cocoa and some … more sugar.20% of that bar is sugar, and yet is labeled with the public as “healthy”.
The problem is labeling
The problem, at least in America, but also extrapolated to other countries, is in food labeling. During the 90s, the FDA allowed to place the label “healthy” (and thus announce their claims advertising) to all products that were low in fat, but regardless of the rest of the nutritional composition of the products. The 90s were a time when the fight against fat reached their peak in all countries and was accused of being the cause of obesity.
While we rethought what we know about fats and current studies indicate more sugar as the cause of the epidemic of obesity and overweight, nutrition labeling of the products has not changed. Thus, a product containing about 30 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product can be labeled and perceived by the population as “healthy”.
What is the solution?
For the FDA side, they being the authority on nutrition in the United States, it has already proposed a change in the labeling of foodstuffs to make a greater emphasis on added sugars, although not (the deadline will occur in the short term it is 2018). What can we do in the meantime?
Betting on food rather than products, read nutrition labels and ingredient listings and take into account the views of dietitians, nutritionists seems a good measure by which to start. It is true that carry a granola or cereal in the bag is very comfortable but equally comfortable is put in a bag with resealable a handful of almonds or hazelnuts are taking an infinitely healthier snack and save yourself all that sugar added.
In the case of the bars, you can also choose to develop them in your own home from food: check out this recipe for oatmeal bars dates and you can serve a good snack. Not even require an oven, it is impossible to fail. Take advantage!