FDA: Frosted Flakes Healthier Than an Avocado
The federal government mettles in a lot of things it shouldn’t. For example, steroids in Major League Baseball. This is one of many things I do not think we should be spending our tax dollars on.
But health guidelines, yeah I can see that. I have no problem with the FDA providing nutritional guidelines. Just some things for Americans to have in mind when making food choices that will help them make informed health decisions. In turn, this will lead to decreased health care costs due to lifestyle-induced diseases like diabetes, obesity and others.
I can be hip to that.
But wait, did they really essentially tell Americans that Frosted Flakes are better for your health that the heart-healthy avocado? That low-fat PopTarts have more health benefits than almonds? Oh yes they did!
MTS Nutrition CEO Marc Lobliner discusses the FDA’s opinion on the avocado.
Put That Avocado Down!
Per the guidelines set forth by the FDA, they judge food on five criteria:
- Saturated fat
- Beneficial nutrients like vitamin C
Let’s go criteria by criteria to see what they say and what REALLY is correct.
The FDA likes to see 5 grams of fat or less per food. This makes some sense, but inherently leaves out awesome foods with “healthy fat” like avocado and fish.
Healthy fat is usually classified as polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fats and the omega 3’s EPA and DHA. Also, fat is a nutrient that is essential for life so without it, yes, you die.
The oft-vilified fat, this fat is essential for hormone production and should comprise a good 20% or more of your total fat intake.
The FDA looks for less than 2g saturated fat with no minimum. So, the FDA seems to forget that this stuff is essential.
The FDA likes less than 480mg. While this is cool and all, athletes need much more for essential mineral balance and balances fluids in the body helps send nerve impulses and is needed for muscle contractions.
Unless one has a preexisting blood pressure or heart condition, sodium is often not an issue for health.
Like sodium, cholesterol is not an issue unless you already have a condition and cholesterol is necessary for hormone production. Cholesterol on its own is not even responsible for the most part for having high cholesterol.
Does the FDA even science?
Like Vitamin C, etc. Nothing to add here, I agree that they are good!
The Issues With The FDA’s Analysis
All we have to do is look at what the FDA defines as healthy and what it defines as unhealthy.
|Low-fat Pop Tarts||Fish like Salmon|
FDA vilifies fat which leaves no room for interpretation and common sense. A small child with pigtails could tell you that almonds are probably better for your overall health profile if calories are taken into consideration than gummy bears.
One can also deduce that vilifying a nutrient necessary for life – FAT, probably isn’t a good thing. One can also deduce that most people in government are not in shape. SHOTS FIRED!
The Pop Tart that Broke the Camel’s Back
What led to this first revision of the FDA guidelines in over two decades was when the FDA sent a warning letter to the Kind Company for their Kind Bars™ for the word “healthy” on their label, citing the fat content not being acceptable per FDA guidelines. This set forth such public backlash so great that the FDA recinded the letter. This also caused them to set forth action to change the guidelines, but that leaves a whole new issue…what should the guidelines be?
What do I recommend?
The hard part about making a guideline is making it so people can follow it easily. Like I did in the Fat Loss Factor Book, you need to simplify but also leave room for some variance. The FDA can simply do a guide where you need to combine a couple of variables to equal a good solution. For example:
Fat: Explain the difference between good and bad fat. Say to minimize the “bad fat” and to control portion sizes on the “better fat” to minimize calories. Then have examples:
- “Bad Fat”: Processed trans fats, too much saturated fat (aim to minimize, not eliminate saturated fat).
- “Good Fat”: Almonds, other nuts, olive oil—eat in smaller portions to avoid having too many calories.
This is tough to do, but vilifying any food is not the best way – the guidelines need to preach moderation.
As for cholesterol and sodium, they need to state that it is only IF you have preexisting conditions. The bottom line is, those are silly! Just like when Mayor Bloomberg in NY took sodium off of the tables at restaurants, it is a silly move based on outdated science!
One thing I have learned in 15 plus years of coaching and dieting myself is the LAST THING you want to do is make any food off limits. It’s all about moderation. Hence, certain things should be followed and a lot of these basics can be found in my Fat Loss Factor book, like how much protein to eat and other things to look for when creating the diet perfect for you.
So are Frosted Flakes bad for you? HECK NO! As the commercials say, they can be a PART of a balanced breakfast. But to say that one macronutrient, an essential one at that, is evil, that is just plain silly!
I applaud the FDA for making these changes, and I hope they are more pragmatic (dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations) with their recommendations than what they did 20 years ago. Until then, read the Fat Loss Factor for some great pointers and USE COMMON SENSE!
Whole, natural foods over processed and quality protein powders, like MTS Nutrition Whey, are the key to a healthy diet. Because looking and feeling good, that’s not a game!