I Wouldn’t Put That in My Mouth If I Were You

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

May 20, 2020

It’s not long ago that Americans cooked – and ate – fresh foods every single day of their lives. These foods didn’t come in a box or bag. They weren’t labeled. They didn’t even have an ingredient list or nutrition panel.

It was just food.

Those days are long gone. Today real foods have been replaced with manmade concoctions filled with chemical additives and flavorings. These fake foods are the mainstay for the majority of U.S. families.

But here’s the thing.

Some makers of processed foods are so manipulative and sneaky that they convince you their foods are much tastier and healthier than they really are. They come up with all sorts of tricky ways to get you to buy – and keep buying – their products.

For years, these food makers were happy with simply hijacking your taste buds.

That might sound far-fetched, but it’s true.

Big food companies hire chemists, called “flavorists”, to make pre-packaged foods taste great. And that’s not an easy thing to do. These flavor experts work with several thousand different chemicals and flavorings in an effort to make fake foods taste delicious.

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Artificial flavors, of course, are manmade. Natural flavors generally come from nature… but perhaps not in the way you think.

The point is this. While seeing the words “natural flavors” on a package makes a food sound healthier, it’s not always something you’d want to put into your mouth.

Not only that, but flavorists try to work it so you get a burst of tempting flavor right off the bat… then make sure the flavor doesn’t linger. This, of course, makes you want even more.

Simply put, they are trying to create an “addictive” taste. (Flavorists call this the Holy Grail – a flavor so good you can’t resist it.)

Like the old Lay’s potato chip catch phrase says… “Betcha can’t eat just one!”

Now that so many people have ruined their health eating these enticing but unhealthy foods, food makers are doing everything they can to beat a path to making so-called “healthier” foods.

They started this trend with reduced fat and lower-sodium products. Of course, the lower the fat and sodium content, the more chemical additives have to be added to make them palatable.

And who can miss all of the products that scream out how they’re made with “real” something-or-other?

Take your pick. Real fruit… real honey… real cream… even real ingredients. (Connect the dots, and you would think a honey-apple crisp topped with freshly whipped cream is good for you.)

Now they’re making healthy-sound “junk food” out of veggies, which also requires a lot of chemical manipulation from flavorists.

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Over the years I’ve seen my share of patients who fell into the Boca Burger, Smart Dog and Veggie Sausage trap.

Oh so healthy sounding… Oh so full of disodium inosinate, methylcellulose, gluten, “natural” flavors and other crap.

And I clearly remember when one of my weight loss patients discovered veggie tots. She thought they could be a replacement for fresh vegetables.

Aargh!

Veggie tots might be slightly healthier than tater tots, but I definitely wouldn’t call them healthy. Nor are they weight loss friendly. They’re just another processed food… filled with chemicals and additives.

This leads me to one of my most recent concerns. The number of plant-based “meat” products showing up in fast food joints.

Burger King recently came out with the Impossible Whopper. White Castle and Carl’s Jr. are amongst the fray. And now KFC is experimenting with the plant based “Beyond Meat Fried Chicken” – which sold out in five hours during consumer testing.

Now really, if you don’t want to eat meat, why are you eating something that looks and tastes like meat? Okay. For some folks, you just want to give your body a break once a week.

In this case, I suggest you go for a higher quality Impossible Burger from a restaurant like the Cheesecake Factory. On occasion, I’ll enjoy one of these burgers piled high with onions, tomato, lettuce, and a little ketchup.

My issue with these veggie “meats” isn’t really with the product, it’s with where the protein comes from.  Is it genetically modified?  Does it contain nasty chemicals like soy leghemoglobin?

Remember, the fact that these foods are plant-based gives them a health halo. But that doesn’t mean they are a better food option for you all the time.

Really, it’s an entirely new form of manipulation – making you think you’re getting something a lot healthier than it is. On a nutritional level, the profile between an Impossible Whopper and a regular Whopper are pretty similar.

Impossible Whopper Regular Whopper
Patty Weight (oz) 4 4
Calories (g) 630 660
Total Fat (g) 34 40
Saturated Fat (g) 11 12
Cholesterol (mg) 10 90
Sodium (mg) 1080 980
Carbohydrates (g) 58 49
Sugar (g) 12 11
Protein (g) 25 28

I’ll bet you zeroed right in on the fact that the regular whopper contains quite a bit more cholesterol. That is really the only significant difference between the two products.

And you should know that cholesterol in food has a very minor impact, if any at all, on your LDL blood cholesterol levels. It’s a non-issue.

I’ll also share this with you. When you eat veggie-based meat substitutes, you aren’t actually getting a lot of vegetable nutrition. There isn’t any broccoli, kale or carrots in these foods.

In most cases, water is the main ingredient, followed by pea or soy proteins to satisfy the protein makeup of the product. After that, it all goes downhill.

My recommendation?

If you want a burger, have a burger. If you want chicken, eat chicken. Just keep them to less than 15% of your overall diet. Choose grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken and cook them up in your own kitchen.

And you know what?

If you want a tater tot, don’t stop at one. Enjoy a small handful of them…

… once a week.

SOURCES:

The Flavorists: Tweaking tastes and creating cravings. November, 2011. CBS News

Science Base Chapter: Food and Nutrient Intakes, and Health: Current Status and Trends.

2015 DGAC: December 15, 2014.

 

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