8 August 2012 – A recent ABC radio program interviewed a food scientist who admitted that  many “natural flavours” in food products were completely artificial.

In a recent issue of US publication Grist there is a guide to separating the fakery from the true in food claims.

The key point, it says, is that “real food doesn’t need to shout about its health benefits.

“Processed foods, on the other hand, need all the help they can get.”

Here’s a sample of the list:

  • Vitamin-enriched water is often filled with sugar. Most of them also make big health claims (mood enhancing, energizing, more brain power, etc.) with no evidence to back them up.
  • Vegetable chips are just chips. They are deep-fried, and contain plenty of fat, salt, and empty calories, just like any other chip.
  • Granola is super-awesome hippie health food, right? Not usually. Most granolas are loaded with sugar and fat. Make your own!
  • Flavored yogurt contains fruit, right? Yes, but it’s usually highly processed fruit. Also: sugar, sugar, and more sugar.
  • Granola bars and energy bars are almost always weighed down with calories, and lots of them contain high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, or other not-so-healthy oils.
  • Baked chips might contain less fat, but they’re about as good for you as eating salty cardboard. Actually, cardboard would have more fiber.
  • Almost every item in these “healthy” vending machines also qualifies as fake health food.Enriched: The original nutrients were all processed out so the manufacturers had to put a few back in. I recommend eating the whole food, not a (processed) enriched version.
  • Better for you: Than what? Cyanide? Sulfuric acid? A kick in the pants? Guess what, it’s also worse for you. Than what? Real food.
  • Fat-free: Fat is not the enemy and fat-free doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat. It probably contains sodium, sugars, and additives to make up for the flavor lost by excluding fat.
  • Made with whole grains, real fruit, etc.: This usually means that the manufacturer added a little of the healthy ingredient so they could say “made with” on the package. Instead of eating something that is “made with” whole grains or real fruit, just eat whole grains or real fruit.
  • Only 100 calories: That’s exactly 100 more empty calories than you need.

See the whole story, Fake health food: How to spot it and what to eat instead