Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Marketing departments crack me up... and they scare me. I'm a smart consumer and try not to get sucked into their lies but I know there are many many many more consumers who do not take advertisements with a grain of salt.

The words, "All Natural" have been equated with "healthy" and "safe" but let me remind you that hemlock is all natural. I actually saw a bottle of "Migraine Relief" at a health food store that was marked "all natural." I looked at the ingredients and it's active ingredient was belladonna. Now, one site mentions that "Small children are much more susceptible to belladonna poisoning than adults, and should be kept away from it." but the fact remains that it's POISON!!

I know that, for many poisonous herbs, death only comes at the right dose but imagine this scenario. You have a migraine. (for those of you that have never experienced one, a migraine isn't just a headache.. it's A REALLY BAD F*$)ING HEADACHE!!! and the slightest sound or amount of light makes your head feel like it's having an axe buried into it and makes you want to lose your lunch.) You have some of the Migraine Relief you bought from the health food store. Depending on the concentration of belladonna, one or two aren't going to hurt you but what if you keep taking them 'cause your headache isn't getting any better? At the very least, it's going to make you sick.

Lately, the move has been toward "low carb" foods because of the Atkins diet. Anyone who knows me knows that I could stand to reduce my carbohydrate intake so these have caught my eye. I've read parts of The Carbohydrate Addict's Healthy Heart Program and it details how your body processes carbs, begins to resist insulin, craves carbs and becomes a fat-making machine. This all makes sense and explains why these low-carb diets work.

I won't argue the validity or safety of Atkins-style diets except to say they don't ring true to me and I choose not to follow them. What I will say is that, as a consumer, YOU MUST BE CAREFUL AND BE SURE OF WHAT YOU ARE GETTING. Remember when KFC tried to convince everyone that fried chicken was healthy???

This morning, I decided to try one of the Carl's Jr Low-Carb breakfast bowls. It's got egg, cheese, sausage and bacon in a bowl. No bread so there are very few carbs (5g total, 3g net... don't even get me started on "net" carbs). When I got into the office, I looked up the nutritional info on the web.

Total Carbs - 5g
Fiber - 2g
Sugars - 2g
Net Carbs - 3g

looks good so far, right??? It gets MUCH WORSE from here...

Calories - 900
Calories from fat - 660
total fat - 73g (DV=less than 65g)*
saturated fat - 33g (DV=less than 20g)
cholesterol - 875mg (DV=less than 300mg - that almost THREE TIMES the daily recommended MAXIMUM intake)
sodium - 2050mg (DV= less than 2,400 mg - one-stop shopping)
protein - 58g

Oh, just bury me now! By contrast, let's take a look at a Croissanwich, another of my favorite breakfast foods, with sausage, egg & cheese from Burger King.

Total carbs - 24g
Dietary fiber - 1g
sugars - 4g
Calories - 520
Calories from fat - 350
Total fat - 39g (almost half that of the breakfast bowl)
Saturated fat - 14g (almost 2 1/2 times lower)
Cholesterol - 210mg (over 4 times lower)
Sodium - 1090mg
protein - 19g

Okay, still not a shining example of healthy eating but look at how much more reasonable those numbers are. I'd rather have the Croissanwich without the croissant. Granted, there was a lot more volume to the breakfast bowl but you certainly pay for it.

How about an Egg McMuffin?

Carbs - 29g
Fiber - 2g
sugars - 3g
calories - 300
Calories from fat - 110
total fat - 12g
saturated fat - 9g
cholesterol - 235mg
sodium - 840mg
protein - 18g

What it comes down to is that any of these breakfast options has too much fat, too much cholesterol, way too much sodium and not enough fiber to be very good for you. But if something is advertised as "low carb" or "low fat" or "all natural"... make sure you get the big picture.

Sheesh... I don't think I'm EVER eating one of those again.

*Daily Values from FDA document 'Daily Values' Encourage Healthy Diet

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