I've become a real label reader lately, and I almost never like what I find. There are exceptions, such as when I got to Whole Foods and get a few tubs of Alexander Valley Fresh Sauerkraut, where the ingredients are: cabbage, filtered water, sea salt, and... there is no "and." That's it. That's what the label of a Real Food product reads like. It even works for dogs, where I regularly get the dried chicken breasts, duck breasts, venison and buffalo livers, and even lamb's lung. In each case, the ingredient label has only one word: chicken; duck...you get the idea.
The biggest shocker is the way HFCS or High Fructose Corn Syrup has made its way into virtually everything. I recall looking at a bottle of BBQ sauce a while back, and, you guessed it: HFCS was ingredient number one. Same with catsup. Virtually all of them have HFCS as the first, second or third ingredient.
OK, so now what? We'll, how about a "healthy alternative" sweetened with, let's say, "agave nectar?" Sounds exotic; healthy even. But at 80-90% fructose, it's not only a health fraud but is actually far worse than corn syrup.
...In one group, the drinks were sweetened with glucose, while in the other group they were sweetened with fructose.
After ten weeks, both groups had gained about three pounds. But they didn't gain it in the same place. The fructose group gained a disproportionate amount of visceral fat, which increased by 14%! Visceral fat is the most dangerous type; it's associated with and contributes to chronic disease, particularly metabolic syndrome, the quintessential modern metabolic disorder (see the end of the post for more information and references). You can bet their livers were fattening up too.
The good news doesn't end there. The fructose group saw a worsening of blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity. They also saw an increase in small, dense LDL particles and oxidized LDL, both factors that associate strongly with the risk of heart attack and may in fact contribute to it. Liver synthesis of fat after meals increased by 75%. If you look at table 4, it's clear that the fructose group experienced a major metabolic shift, and the glucose group didn't. Practically every parameter they measured in the fructose group changed significantly over the course of the 9 weeks. It's incredible.
And now I come to the inspiration for today's post, which is Mark Sisson's post for today: WTF?... Where's The Fat?! where he takes you on a label reading roller coaster that ought to make you sick to your stomach. And, for those who want to see Mark at his sarcastic best, this is the post for you.
...What manner of culinary wizardry can make a delicious, creamy version of ranch dressing without all that artery-clogging fat? They must be doing something right, because they almost outnumber their full-fat counterparts on the shelves. And the people I see frequenting the aisles are always trim, slim, and full of vitality. Plus, what with the nationwide rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease plummeting to all-time lows just as the fat-free movement finally seems to be picking up steam, I think we can thank the good folks of Kraft, Best Foods, and Lean Cuisine for their commitment to public health.
And so I set out to peruse the aisles of the local supermarket for evidence of these shining beacons of health and chemical ingenuity. I hoped to discover the secrets so that I might recreate the delectable food products at home and avoid messing up my kitchen with “recipes” and “raw meat” and “food.”
Mark takes you on quote a photo tour through supermarket isles, and in the end, comes away as most of us would and do, now.
My trip to the inner aisles of the grocery store left me in a state of disbelief. I knew what I was in for, but I still came out amazed. I’m amazed that people can continue to deceive themselves into thinking what they’re eating is actually food, let alone healthy food, and I’m amazed at the cunning of food marketing that plays off this deceit...