Today’s Dietitian has really been making me happy lately. They recently posted a fabulous article, which talked about label claims. Here are some terms you may have wondered about at one time or another;
1) “Made with expeller-pressed oil”; this means the oil was extracted from its source (typically a nut or seed) by a crushing mechanism, as apposed to a chemical method, which typically uses hexane to chemically extract the oil. Hexane is a petrochemical that is apparently used also for paint diluent. Yuck!
2) “Stoneground wheat flour” or “100% stoneground wheat”; Similar to the term “natural” there really isn’t a legal definition for this term. Stoneground wheat is supposedly created by grinding flour solely in stone mills, as apposed to the more commercial method of using a roller mill. Since there is no legal definition for this term companies can claim their product contains “stoneground wheat flour” even if it has only gone through the stone mill once, then was completed using a roller mill. Tricky.
Stoneground wheat is meant to sound less processed, similar to “steel cut oats”, which are oats that have been cut rather than rolled. Are they any better for you? In my opinion not really. They may contain a bit more protein and soluble fiber, but I’ve found that this really depends on the brand.
3) “X grams of whole grains per serving”. Ok…so what? This means nothing to those who don’t know how many grams of whole grains they need each day. There are 16 grams of whole grains per serving of whole grain, and we need three servings per day. So that means we need a minimum of about 48 grams of whole grains each day. If a product claims to have “8 grams of whole grains per serving”, that’s half of a full serving of whole grains (eight grams is half of sixteen), and about one-sixth of your daily needs (eight is one-sixth of forty-eight).
These chips provide a little over a serving of whole grain, in one serving of the chips.
4) “High in antioxidants”. This is the one that gets to me the most. Have you ever picked up a snack bar or a sugary cereal and seen this claim loud and clear on the box? Vitamins A, C, and E are all antioxidants, which just so happen to be added to most processed foods. Because of this, many processed foods make the claim that they “contain antioxidants” or are “high in antioxidants”. It’s not a lie, but are these products the best way to get antioxidants? Not at all! Antioxidants work synergistically with other compounds in the food (many times phytonutrients, or plant nutrients), which is what gives them their disease-fighting potential. In these highly processed cereals, snack bars, and even juices, those phytonutrients are typically non-existent, therefore there is no synergism potential.
The best way to get antioxidants is from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, not a snack bar that has had them added, and especially not from a supplement that supplies you a mega dose of antioxidants.
Wild rice contains vitamin E, which is a very powerful antioxidant. Scientists haven’t even figured out half of the phytonutrients in whole grains, which may be working with vitamin E to help it provide its vast array of benefits to our bodies.
The same is true when it comes to fruits, vegetables, and fish. We know about many of the healthy components, but not all. There is a symbiotic relationships going on here that you simply can’t mimic with fortified foods and supplements.
Including fortified foods, vitamin water, and multivitamins with >>100% of the daily value (DV) of several antioxidants is not in anyone’s best interest. Consuming all these antioxidants from unnatural sources can in fact create a pro-oxidant situation in your body. To read more about this I highly suggest reading the book Superfoods Rx by Steven Pratt, MD and Kathy Matthews (see the link on my Amazon Widget to the right).