PARIS – The horsemeat lasagna scandal has reignited the debate on “junk” food. However, it can be very difficult to sort out the good and the bad… Some key recommendations from Dr. Laurent Chevalier, a prominent French nutritionist:
1 – Favor organic products. They are less contaminated by chemicals – especially pesticides and hormones – than conventional products. Organic beef and chicken are fed with non-GMO feed and are given less antibiotics. The quality of organic products sold by supermarkets has greatly improved.
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Aim for eggcellence - Photo: themonnie
2 – Ban industrial fruit juices and sodas. Even when they are labeled “diet,” a study by the French National Institute of Health and medical Research (INSERM) has shown that drinking sodas and industrial juices increases the risk of diabetes in women. The same goes for fresh fruit juices: 10 grams of carbs is equivalent to four lumps of sugar per 200-milliliter glass.
3 – Avoid aspartame (E951) sweetener. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) believes there is evidence that aspartame poses serious health risks including cancer, premature births and metabolic disorders.
4 – Choose unprocessed, fresh or frozen foods. Ban or limit as much as possible all ready-made meals, industrial dressings and sauces. They often contain too much added sugar, salt, flavor exhausters like glutamate and various other additives.
5 – Dump the cans. Cans are often filled with salt, emulsifiers, preservatives and food coloring. Their internal coating may also contain Bisphenol A, which is thought to be an endocrine disruptor.
6 – Favor local products. The longer products travel, the more there is a risk of fraud. Many pesticides that are banned in Europe are still used around the world.
7 – Be on the lookout for industrial fat. Trans-fatty acids (sometimes listed on the labels as partially hydrogenated fatty acids) and palm oil (sometimes listed as vegetable oil or vegetable fat-MGV) are not clearly labeled, but they are found profusely in biscuits, chips, pastries etc.
8 – Watch out for false friends. Dried fruits might seem like your friends, but they’re not. Many are coated in fat, so it is important to check the type of oil used. Dates, in particular, are often glazed in glucose sugar.
9 – Choose your basic products carefully. Choose chocolate without additives like soy lecithin. Choose unrefined sugar, like brown sugar. Go for nut, canola or olive oil. Beware of imported honey, especially from Asia.
10 – Beware of labels. They are inadequate.