Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


Powdered fruit vs. whole fruit

A group of scientists in Valencia have come up with a way to help us all eat more fruit. They’ve freeze-dried strawberries, kiwis, and grapefruit and then ground them into powders which can be added to things like salads, smoothies, or water. Apparently the logic here is that grapefruit is too bitter to be eaten straight-up. Also, the high water content of these fruits meant that they don’t have a very long shelf-life. The freeze-drying process allegedly preserves the nutrients (i.e. vitamin C and other antioxidants) in these fruits while making them more convenient. This is a little puzzling to me. How is a powder that you have to add to something else more convenient than a piece of fruit which is essentially ready-to-eat? Sure, grapefruit can be a little messy but I’d rather have a piece of fruit on-hand to snack on than a packet of powder. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people eating more fruit and vegetables. I just don’t see how processing them into a powder is really an improvement.

I don’t believe that the nutrient profile of these freeze-dried fruits is the same as fresh fruit. You’re losing out on the water content of the fruit if you consume freeze-dried fruit so you would need to be sure to consume more fluids. It seems to me that it’s a struggle to get many people to consume enough fluids. Fruit is also a decent source of fibre. By freeze-drying and grinding fruit you’re destroying the fibre and losing out on that nutrient. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find nutrition information for freeze-dried fruit which means I can’t speculate as to the loss of other nutrients.

In addition to the above issues, an anti-caking agent was added to ensure the fruit remained nice and powdery. Despite the lack of evidence of risk associated with anti-caking agents, why not go with whole fruit that doesn’t have any potentially harmful additives (aside from the pesticides, obviously)? Is it really that taxing to go to the store at least once a week and buy fresh food? The problem is not with fruit. The problem is with our lack of willingness to put any effort into our food.


Is how we shop contributing more to obesity than what we eat?

Why does there have to be food everywhere? It baffled me when I started seeing snack foods for sale at Staples. Now you can get groceries at Walmart and Canadian Tire. Nearly every store seems to sell food in some shape of form these days. Oh sure, it’s convenient to be able to pick-up your socket wrench and milk at the same time but I don’t think that ease of purchase is necessarily a good thing. In a time when many people are struggling with being overweight or obese should we really be making it easier to get food? Especially when the most prominent and commonplace foods are often calorie dense and nutrient poor.

I’ve been wondering if the reason that some European nations have lower obesity rates than North American nations might not be more closely related to how they shop than to what they eat. Sure, I love that I can go to the grocery store and get all my food plus clothes, nail polish, and a BBQ but maybe we’d all be better off if we had to put more effort into obtaining food. If we had to go to one store for produce, another for bread products, another for dairy, another for meats, and yet another for candy then maybe we would all be a little healthier. If the option to toss a chocolate bar onto the conveyor belt at the checkout wasn’t there and we had to go to a different store a few blocks away to get one we might take pause before we made that journey.

I used to be a little envious of provinces that carried alcohol in corner stores. However, that’s not benefiting alcoholics to be exposed to alcohol when they want to grab a loaf of bread. Apparently 4% of Canadians are dependent on alcohol (1). Yet, about 25% of the Canadian population is obese (2) and that’s not even counting the proportion that’s overweight. With such a prevalent problem why are we continuing to make it easier to obtain food?