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Stand Up to Junk-Food Science

Are we turning into junk food junkies?

Are we a nation of food junkies?  The food industry’s production of addictive products —and the science behind “no one can just eat one” — was recently featured in the NY Times Magazine. Read this article, and you’ll never read food labels the same way again.

Salt, sugar, and fat taste good, but it’s more than that. Experts in the food industry use “complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating,” according to the article.

We’re hard-wired to crave salt, sugar, and fat. Each, in its own way, is important in normal development and life itself. But too much of a good thing is literally killing us.

In addition to salt and sugar, many “convenience” foods contain sugar-like substances like high fructose corn syrup. They tend to be heavy on unhealthy fats (saturated fats, trans-fats, Omega 6). Overuse of these culprits has contributed to our national epidemic of heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and many other illnesses.

What can you do? Check your pantry and refrigerator. Get an idea of how much salt, sugar, and fat you consume in a day. You can eliminate or reduce “addictive” foods by retraining your palate. Crowd out unhealthy foods with vitamin- and antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and occasional fish. Help another family member, friend or colleague to “kick the addiction” too!