Q: Fast-food places and packaged foods seem to be getting on the healthy train. Do you think it’s OK to eat convenience foods now? – Erin H., Dunedin, Florida
A: That’s a great question. It seems every chain and packaged-food producer is declaring itself “healthy” and some of the changes have been good. Chipotle, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are committed to providing or labeling GMO-free foods. Some drive-thru places are now offer healthier choices. And there’s Kraft saying good-bye to synthetic colors in their original macaroni and cheese; no artificial colors or flavors in Nestle chocolate; and even the candy company Mars says it wants folks to reduce their sugar intake and that it supports labeling changes that would identify added sugar in products. But too often these announcements deliver bad old news with the slightly better new news, and it makes you aware of just how little you know about what these chains actually do to your food.
For instance, Taco Bell is eliminating all artificial colors and flavors (OK) and giving up ARTIFICIAL BLACK PEPPER for the real thing. Did you know there was such thing as artificial black pepper – and what is it made of, anyway? (They won’t say). Clearly, there’s a lot to be skeptical about.
We’re glad that businesses are getting the message that you and your family want to know what’s in your food and are fed up with hidden and excess fats and sugars that raise your lousy LDL cholesterol and fuel everything from obesity to diabetes and depression. But it’s still smartest to opt for fresh food and produce and lean protein like skinless chicken (best without antibiotics) and broiled or poached fish (never fried). So whenever you can, eat breakfast at home (whole grains, walnuts and fresh berries), pack your lunch for school or work, and make dinnertime a family project that gets kids involved in choosing and cooking healthy meals.
© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.