Sunday, April 14, 2013

Can You Trust Food Labels? Part II

So  we learned that even though some labels say products are low fat or fat free, they make still contribute to a considerable amount of fat when the servings are added up and they may contain a lot more sugar than the full-fat versions. “Hydrogenated” oil equals trans fat no matter what the labels say. This installment of the Nutrition Files, I’ll be addressing the biggest craze since low carb: Gluten-Free


At the start of the new millennium, carbs was the nutrient everyone loved to hate. It got blamed for everything - from weight gain, acne to even cancer. If something bad happened to you, it could somehow be traced back to the bread and rice you’d been eating. Popular celebrity diets like Atkins and the Zone – made famous by celebs like Renee Zellweger & Jennifer Aniston – didn’t help to put the public’s mind at ease either. Rather, it fostered a love-hate relationship with the nutrient that has transcended time. Yes, it may not look exactly the same but our disdain for the idea of eating carbs is still clearly evident when we see the latest villain in town: gluten.  Although it’s a protein, its mainly found in wheat barley and rye – in other words, carb foods.  Gluten-free products have been on the rise. Sales of gluten-free products have increased from $4.8 billion to $6.1 billion from 2009 to 2011, jumping by 27 percent (SPINS, 2012). Yes, carb-hate is here to stay. But does gluten really deserve all this bad press? Not unless you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity which result in diarrhea or migraines when you ingest this protein. Otherwise, its just a lot of money down the drain as gluten-free products can be quite expensive. And as with the previously mentioned label buzz words, gluten-free doesn’t always mean its going to help you lose weight or is even healthier. To compensate for the lack of gluten (it helps give processed foods its spongy and stretchy texture, as well as thicken sauces and soups), these products are usually reinforced with more calories, fat, starch and sugar to make them more appetizing. They are also lower in fibre and lack the vitamin enrichment such as iron and B vitamins that gluten containing products have. So unless gluten gives you a bad vibe, I suggest you steer clear of these products.

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