Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Grocery store lessons: Vitamin Water

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I never blogged about Vitamin Water before because I assumed that everyone knew that it wasn’t a healthy choice. On the off-chance that I was mistaken I thought that I’d write a quick post to let you know that Vitamin Water is not a healthy choice.

Long before I started studying nutrition I loved Vitamin Water. I discovered it while on a trip to New York with my family. I didn’t read nutrition labels back then. I was young and assumed that the promises made (e.g. energy, immunity, focus) were legitimate. Plus, the stuff was delicious (to my unrefined teenage palette). Anytime someone I knew was headed to the States I would ask them to bring me back a bottle or two. I even contacted the company to try to get them to distribute to Canada. Of course, by the time they finally did, I had figured out that they were just fortified sugar water.

The benefits that the beverage names imply are incongruous with the actual ingredients. Take focus for example, which is suggested for afternoon or late night consumption. What does that name mean to you? To me it suggests that it will help you to focus on a task at hand when you’re mentally and possibly physically drained. But the medicinal ingredients: vitamin A, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 are not known to contribute to mental focus. Admittedly, a deficiency in B vitamins (especially B12) may leave you feeling sluggish. Regardless, there aren’t enough of any of the vitamins present to have an effect on your heath, positive or negative. The 32 grams of sugar (about 8 teaspoons!) on the other hand, is certainly not going to do you any good.

Next time you’re tempted by a Vitamin Water try to think of it as expensive Kool Aid. Your body and mind (not to mention your wallet) will be much better off with a glass of water.


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Nutritionally complete… jelly beans??!

Well, they’ve finally done it… After much talk of fortifying junk foods it seems that the food industry has won out over the nay sayers. The first “food” to hit the market later this summer will be fortified jelly beans. The press release states that:

Everyone loves candy but we’re always being told to eat our vegetables. Now you can get all of your vitamins, and other essential nutrients while enjoying the delicious flavours of jelly beans that you’ve always loved.

Apparently, these jelly beans have been manufactured to provide all essential vitamins and minerals so that, in theory, you truly could live on candy alone.


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Grocery Store Lessons: Almond milk

I made an interesting discovery the other day at the grocery store. My usual brand of almond milk was unavailable so I was comparing the labels of the available brands. I noticed some interesting ingredients:

The first two are fine by me. Inulin? Unnecessary. It’s that pea fibre that’s being added to all sorts of products to claim that they have fibre (e.g. “smart” pasta) but that may not have the same benefits as other types of fibre. It doesn’t really bother me that it’s in the almond milk. It’s the canola oil that bothers me. Why add oil to almond milk? I’m no food product developer but it seems like a pointless addition of fat and calories.

The really sad news: when I looked it up, my usual almond milk also had added canola oil. Lesson learned. Always read the ingredients, not just the nutrition facts panel. I started buying this brand because it was one of the first ones I saw that was fortified. Fortunately there are now a number of fortified brands on the market. Here’s hoping that at least one of them isn’t “fortified” with oil.