Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Devil Wears Diet Labels: Low-Fat Fig Newmans

My no. 2 tip for finding health in 2016 and basically FOREVER is to start familiarizing yourself with food labels. This is a biggie because there's a lot of junk foods out there disguised as health foods; they lure us with their deceptive low-fat, low-sugar or sugar-free, gluten-free, all natural and organic labels. They hide in the inner aisles or end caps of super markets like this guy: Newman's Own Low Fat Fig Newmans. Let's take a closer look at why this is not a health food and at best is a sugary treat!

Let's start with the ingredients.

  • Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour 
  • Organic Sugar
  • Organic Figs
  • Corn Syrup
  • Organic Palm Fruit Oil
  • Water
  • Natural Flavors
  • Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate)
  • Non-Fat Dry Milk
  • Salt
  • Soy Lecithin (an emulsifier)
The main thing I want to point out is that the first four and main ingredients are just pure, refined, processed sugar and will be digested quickly in the body, thus sending insulin and blood sugar soaring. Unbleached wheat flour is refined white flour and the organic figs are refined too. They are not fresh whole intact figs, it's actually fig puree without it's fiber rich green skin and cooked down for concentrated sweetness. Sugar is sugar, as we know, and forth on the list is good old corn syrup. This is not high-fructose corn syrup, but the only difference is the molecular make-up. Both are refined, both are un-natural, both are not good for you. 

Palm fruit oil is a popular ingredient amongst processed foods because it's cheap. I haven't read much about palm fruit oil, but there are mixed feelings ranging from the health benefits of the red oil to the impact palm oil farming is having on the environment. According to this site there seems more bad than good associated with this type of oil.

Natural flavors are anything but natural and this basically means that there is a trace natural element in this man-made created flavor, but you can't find it in nature as is. Leavening is used in most baked goods and it's used for adding texture. Soy lecithin is complicated to explain, but it's processed from GMO soybean oil and is used as a substitute for eggs. The non-fat dry milk is an interesting one because it contains oxidized cholesterol, which is the dangerous kind that leads to plaque build up in our hearts. The process of turning fresh milk into dry milk is what causes the oxidization; however, I will say that there's probably only trace amounts (if any) in the cookies. It's still kind of nasty and worth making a mental note. 

A quick assessment of the nutrition facts tells us that two little Newmans has 110 calories and 23g of carbs, a combination of sugar and starch that will be digested and absorbed quickly in our bodies. With no fat, no fiber and no protein to slow down the digestion of these guys, who is going to be satisfied with just two Newmans? This is a terrible snack for anyone with blood sugar regulation, heart health and weight issues.

Although I'm enjoying vilifying these fig Newmans, the point of this post is to begin recognizing fake healthy snacks. This is a sugary cookie and if you're craving something sweet, I'd recommend fruit or treating yourself to ONE gourmet cookie from your local upmarket bakery. It's probably better because it was baked on the day, contains more whole food ingredients and is far better for you in the long run then 9 servings of processed Newman's Own. It will also be fucking delicious.
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