“Health” Foods Aren’t Always Healthy

Yep, I’m calling this product out.  In preparation for a class I went to Safeway and randomly picked up foods that I thought the average consumer would think were “healthy”.  This one fit the bill.  It says “light” – isn’t that good?  It says “smoothie” – we’ve all heard that’s good for us?  It says “nonfat” – fat’s evil right?  It says “excellent source of protein & 18 vitamins and minerals” – that has to be an added bonus?

This is my new favorite product to hate (although the one I picked up is actually raspberry/banana flavored).  First, including ingredients within ingredients, there are 37 listed.  Yes, it takes 37 ingredients to make this . . . or you could put some milk and fruit in a blender, whir for 10 seconds and you’re good to go – 2 ingredients and better nutrition.

Next, in this 10 ounce bottle there are 19 grams of sugar . . . we want to shoot for 40 grams or less per day.  So one of these on your way to work and you’ve hit almost half of your sugar intake.  There are five types of sweeteners added to this product on top of the natural sweetness of the milk and fruit.  The artificial ones add sweetness without calories or sugar grams but the body still identifies the sweet taste and reacts biochemically.

With only 140 calories and no fat you’ll be hungry really soon and crashing from the sugar high.  Frequently when fat is removed from products sugar is added to improve the taste.  Fat is not the evil we’ve been lead to believe, at least not healthy, natural fats (the exception is trans fats – definite evil there).  Our bodies need fat to survive, chemically and mechanically removing it from natural sources doesn’t make those sources healthier, just more processed.  Plus, fat is what helps us feel full and signals our need to quit eating.

They’ve “improved” this product by adding 18 vitamins and minerals . . . all synthetic.  Additionally, three added vitamins A, D, & E are fat soluble vitamins – meaning they are only absorbed in the presence of fat.  No fat in the smoothie = no absorption (glad they added those).  And they’ve added protein powder to to be able to claim this as an excellent source of protein.  They’ve also added sodium – sure, it’s a mineral, but not one we needed added to our morning drink.

Don’t forget the added “natural flavors” which can be pretty much anything approved for food use.  Or how about modified corn starch, another non-nutritional additive.  And my personal favorite, red 40.  I guess their strawberries aren’t red enough?

Oh, by the way, this isn’t an organic product and one of the biggest offenders for pesticide residue is strawberries.  The high concentration necessary to make those over-sized berries is bad for the environment, the workers, and our health.

In a nutshell, I now have colored, sugar water with synthetic, non-absorbable vitamins posing as a healthy product.  Now, I’m not mad at Lucerne, they are just providing what the American public seems to want.  They are just following the trends in order to make a profit.

Here’s the solution though . . . pay attention to the foods you purchase.  I don’t care what the product is, nothing needs 37 ingredients.  Ask yourself if you could make something similar that doesn’t come in a cute bottle with pretty pictures – if you can, guaranteed it will be better for your health.  There’s always some “healthy” fad offering quick solutions.  Convenience isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be – it often comes with a high price for our health and our pocketbooks.



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