Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Following government dietary advice
is bad for health

Butter, eggs and red meat have long been touted as poison for heart health, but studies have found this to be incorrect, while polyunsaturated spreads like margarine and salt-laden processed foods are the real culprits

By Joanna Blythman  /  The Observer, LONDON

Government diet gurus and health charities have long been engaged on a salt reduction crusade, but what has been missing from this noble effort is the awareness that excessive salt is a problem of processed food. High salt is essential to that larger-than-life processed food taste. Without salt, and a sub-set of assorted chemical flavor enhancers, processed foods would be exposed for what they are: Products that have lost their natural savor and nutritional integrity. Salt-free cornflakes, for instance, would be well nigh inedible. No one would want to buy them because they would see that they are a heap of nutritional uselessness. However, where is the evidence that salt added as normal seasoning to home cooked food constitutes a health risk?

With salt, as with sugar, the public health establishment is too cowardly to take on the powerful processed food companies and their lobbyists by drawing a distinction between home-prepared food cooked from scratch.

The crucial phrase “avoid processed food” appears nowhere in government nutritional guidelines, yet this is the most concise way to sum up in practical terms what is wholesome and healthy to eat. Until this awareness shapes dietetic advice, all government dietary guidance should come with a tobacco-style caution: Following this advice could seriously damage your health.

Joanna Blythman is the author of Bad Food Britain and What to Eat.

Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2014

What’s good and what’s not

■ Eggs

We were once told to eat no more than two a week. Now eggs look like the most all-round nutritious food you can eat, so there is no need to limit them.

■ Butter

The first generation margarine-type spreads turned out to be heart-stoppers, which makes it hard to trust anything the margarine industry says. You are safer with good old butter.

■ Red meat

Processed red meat that is stiff with additives is to be avoided, but meat from free-range, grass-fed cattle is a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid, which reduces our risk of cancer, obesity and diabetes.

■ Salt

Processed foods are loaded with the stuff to make them palatable, but there is no evidence that salt added in judicious amounts in home cooking is a health problem.

■ Sugar

Sugar and sweeteners in all forms are best reduced or avoided. Accustom your palate to a less sweet taste.

Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2014

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