Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Those 'Super Healthy' Foods Are Simply a Gimmick

Sitting side by side on a supermarket shelf is a block of cheap butter and an expensive margarine that is ‘proven’ to reduce cholesterol. So which would you choose?

At first glance, it seems obvious — the margarine, of course. But is it? A closer look at the extensive list of artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings on its label suggests that the butter, which is entirely devoid of additives, is the healthier option after all.

The margarine in question is a perfect example of a ‘functional food’ which, along with ‘digestion-aiding’ probiotic yogurts and ‘brain-boosting’ omega-3 eggs, claims to have fantastic, health-promoting properties.

Having investigated thoroughly, my opinion of these so-called ‘super-healthy’ products is that they are nothing more than a dangerous gimmick: Read the small print and you’ll quickly discover just how jam-packed they are with sugar, sweeteners, artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives.

The problem is that they are marketed so effectively, it’s easy to see why the ‘worried well’ of Britain are spending more money on them than ever before, in the hope of achieving better health.

According to new figures from Mintel, we’ll be buying a whopping £951million worth of functional foods every year by 2015 — but if it weren’t for the convincing health claim on the box, they would look no different from any other highly  processed junk.

I analysed ten products from the most successful brands on the market to find out what each of them really contains. (Warning: my findings may shock you into changing your shopping habits for good.)

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