Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Should alcohol have nutrition labels?

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I absolutely think that alcoholic beverages should have nutrition information on the labels, and not just calories. Sure the calories are relevant, although I do wonder how useful that information is to most of the population. Perhaps there needs to be more education about what calories mean and how to use nutrition labels. Anyway… That’s another rant. Including more nutrition information than calories would make nutrition labels on alcoholic beverages far more useful. For people with diabetes, for instance, who need to count carbohydrates to ensure effectiveness of medication having this information on bottles would be hugely beneficial.

The argument made by the Health Canada employee in this article is extremely disappointing. Saying that putting a nutrition label on alcoholic beverages shouldn’t be done because it implies that “it can be included as part of a healthy eating plan” is rich. For one thing, low-risk drinking guidelines (supported by many public health and other governmental and health organizations) would suggest that alcohol, when consumed within the guidelines, can be included as part of a healthy diet. If this is the argument being made then shouldn’t nutrition labels be removed from candy, sugar, lard, deli meats, and any other foods that are viewed as “unhealthy”. I think we can all agree that, that’s a ridiculous suggestion.

People have a right to know what they’re ingesting. Alcohol is sold as a beverage. People drink it. Why on earth shouldn’t we be able to access the nutrition information for these beverages? For the people who have specific health concerns and need to have that information to manage their health appropriately. For the people who are constantly trying to lose weight but downing a bottle of wine every night. For those who just want to know what they’re consuming, that information should be directly available on the bottle.


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Why gluten-free OJ isn’t completely ridiculous

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I keep hearing people mock foods that are labelled gluten-free such as orange juice and corn chips. Because these foods naturally do not contain gluten they think that labelling them as GF is laughable and simply capitalizing on the trendiness of GF diets. Sure, they may be taking advantage of the popularity of GF diets at the moment but I don’t think that’s a good reason to complain. For people who have celiac disease every label must be carefully scrutinized for glutinous ingredients. Even if a food doesn’t contain any gluten, it may still have come in contact with a gluten-containing food during processing. Yes, it may seem a little absurd to label  OJ gluten-free but it can help to put your mind at ease if you do need to follow a strict gluten-free diet.

 


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How much “real ginger” is in ginger ale?

My colleague has decided that I’m her own personal investigative reporter. She asked me to find out how much ginger is actually in ginger ale and to report on it in my blog. Unfortunately, my investigation hasn’t been particularly fruitful. Here’s what I was able to find out: I went to the Canada Dry website and found the ingredients in their ginger ale: Carbonated Water, Sugar/Glucose-Fructose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavour, Sodium Benzoate, Colour. In their little write-up they state that their ginger ale has “100% natural flavours, including real ginger”. Their FAQ section has the question: “How much real ginger is in Canada Dry ginger ale?” and the answer: “That information is part of our proprietary formula and is not divulged.”  Clearly, the “real ginger” is just one of the ingredients included under “Natural Flavour.” I emailed the company to ask what the other “natural flavours” are and what form the “real ginger” is in (e.g. ginger syrup). This is the response I received: “The amount and source of our natural flavors is considered proprietary information. The “natural flavors” listed on the ingredient statement contains flavor from many types of real ginger roots. The ginger flavor in ginger ale is extracted from the ginger roots and then blended with other citrus flavors to produce the unique flavor in ginger ale.  Since the ginger flavor is combined with natural flavors, we chose to label the combination “natural flavors” on the ingredient statement.” I can understand that Canada Dry would be concerned that someone might steal their secret recipe. However, I am a little surprised that they wouldn’t reveal the source of the other “natural flavours” as this would be important information to someone with a food allergy or intolerance. I’ve hit a dead end with my investigation, so this is where my conjecture comes into play. As ingredients are listed by weight (therefore the most common ingredient is the first ingredient and the last ingredients are generally quite negligible) and ginger is part of “natural flavours” (not even listed individually) I don’t think that there’s a whole heck of a lot of “real ginger” in Canada Dry’s ginger ale. If you want to be sure that you’re getting ginger root in your ginger ale, and you have a little bit of time on your hands, you could try making your own. I found a recipe on Simply Recipes for homemade ginger ale. My only suggestion would be to use less simple syrup than the recipe recommends. Try adding to your glass by the teaspoon, stirring, and tasting until you obtain the desired sweetness. I’m not endorsing this as a healthy recipe, but in relation to the questionable quantity of “real ginger” in commercially produced ginger ale it’s a better option.