Restaurant Chains Beginning To Serve Healthy Fast Food?

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Food and Health, Health Current Events, Supplements and Health

Would You Like Hydrocolloids In Your “Healthy Fast Food?”

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

The fast food industry is changing. Some of the changes are good. Some of the changes are bad. Some of the changes are downright ugly. Let’s start with the good.

healthy fast foodIn recent months Panera, MacDonald’s and Subway have all announced that they are switching to ingredients that people can recognize – ingredients that you might actually use in your own kitchen. Chipotle has recently announced that they have removed all genetically modified organisms from their foods.

This week Pizza Hut said that it will remove artificial colors and preservatives from its food. Taco Bell pledged to remove artificial colors, artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and palm oil from its foods.

For example, Taco Bell will start using real pepper instead of “black pepper flavor” in its food (I didn’t even realize that there was an artificial pepper flavor. Come on! Real pepper can’t be that expensive!). They also plan to remove Yellow No. 6 from their nacho cheese, Blue No. 2 from their avocado ranch dressing, and carmine from their red tortilla strips.

Are restaurants making healthy fast food? Or is this all for show?

Will Healthy Fast Food Be Available At  Ordinary Fast Food Chains?

Now let’s look at the bad. Perhaps the first question to ask is: “Why is the fast food industry making these changes? Have they suddenly decided that they want to become part of the health food industry?”

One clue to those questions is the name of the parent company that owns both Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. They call themselves Yum Foods. You will notice that they don’t call themselves Health Foods. Their name alone speaks volumes about their priorities.

When the CEO of Yum Foods was describing these changes, he didn’t speak about any desire to make healthy fast food. He spoke about responding to shifting consumer attitudes and the desire of consumers for “real food” as driving these kinds of changes. The bottom line is that fast food companies are realizing that consumers are becoming more aware of the dangers of artificial ingredients and are making their buying choices accordingly. The companies simply don’t want to lose market share.

The second question to ask is: “Are these foods actually healthier?” The answer is: “Not really”. None of these companies are talking about removing fat, sugar, salt or calories from their foods. They are more concerned with retaining the “yum” factor than they are in actually making healthy fast food.

Do You Want Hydrocolloids With That Pizza?

hydrocolloidsNow let’s talk about the ugly. Perhaps the most important questions you should be asking are: “What is behind the curtain?” “What aren’t they telling us about?” The answer is: “You probably don’t want to know.”

For example, I came across an interesting article in a food industry journal. A Spanish company called Premium Ingredients was announcing that they had developed a new “food” product from hydrocolloids and melting salts that could be used to replace casein in pizza toppings.

But, first a bit of background:

You’ve heard nutritionists claim that pizza is a perfect food because it contains foods from all four food groups. Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that pizza is generally made with white flour and contains lots of fat – mostly saturated, calories and sodium.

But, when you look at many of the frozen and fast food pizzas on the market it gets even worse.

You noticed that Premium Ingredients didn’t say that their hydrocolloids/melting salts mixture could be used to replace cheese. They said that it could be used to replace casein. That’s because many pizza manufacturers haven’t used real cheese in years.

Instead they are using casein (milk protein) and a chemical smorgasbord to manufacture a cheese “food” with the taste and consistency of cheese.

Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, and it supplies a lot of other essential nutrients as well – such as vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium & zinc. Some of the artificial cheeses on the market do supply the calcium found in real cheese, but almost none of them provide the other essential micro-nutrients. But, because the artificial cheeses have been made with casein up to now, we could at least count on them to supply the protein found in real cheese.

Now, thanks to Premium Ingredients, the manufacturers of frozen and fast food pizzas won’t even have to use casein-containing artificial cheeses. In their trade journal article Premium Ingredients boasted that their product will help manufacturers cut costs (and cut protein and essential nutrients in the process).  Is this creating healthy fast food?

Lucky us?

 

The Bottom Line

  • A number of fast food chains have recently announced that they are removing some artificial ingredients from their foods.
  • These changes appear to arise from a desire to respond to changes in consumer preferences rather than to actually make healthy fast food.
  • For example, most of the fast food chains that are removing artificial ingredients from their foods are making no effect to reduce fat, sugar, salt and calories. Fast foods are not becoming health foods.
  • Even worse are the hidden ingredients you don’t know about. For example, a fast food supplier recently announced that it had developed a mixture of hydrocolloids and melting salts that could be used in place of casein (milk protein) for the “cheese food” that fast food chains for their pizza topping.
  • That saves the fast food chains money, but it leaves you with a pizza that gives you no milk, no calcium, no vitamin D and less of many other essential nutrients.
  • Pizzas are just the tip of the iceberg. Most of us no longer make complex foods like pizza from scratch. We count on manufacturers to use the same natural ingredients that we would use. But, in fact we have no idea of what they are putting in the foods that we are eating. That is why our food supply is becoming depleted of essential nutrients in ways that we don’t even know about. That’s one reason why I use food supplements and why I recommend food supplements for others.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Latest Article

Best Diet For Heart Disease Prevention

Posted July 9, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Are The American Heart Association’s Recommendations Correct?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

What is the best diet for heart disease prevention? 

diet for heart disease preventionHeart disease is a killer. It continues to be the leading cause of death – both worldwide and in industrialized countries like the United States and the European Union. When we look at heart disease trends, it is a good news – bad news situation.

  • The good news is that heart disease deaths are continuing to decline in adults over 70.
  • The decline among senior citizens is attributed to improved treatment of heart disease and more seniors following heart-healthy diets.
  • The bad news is that heart disease deaths are starting to increase in younger adults, something I reported in an earlier issue, Heart Attacks Increasing in Young Women of “Health Tips From the Professor.”
  • The reason for the rise in heart disease deaths in young people is less clear. However, the obesity epidemic, junk and convenience foods, and the popularity of fad diets all likely play a role.

Everyone has a magic diet for reducing heart disease risk. The American Heart Association tells us to avoid fats, especially saturated fats. Vegans tell us to avoid animal protein. Paleo and keto enthusiasts tell us carbs are the problem. Who is correct?

Of course, we don’t eat fats, carbohydrates, or proteins. We eat foods. That is why a recent study (T Meier et al, European Journal of Epidemiology, 34: 37-45, 2019) is so important. It reported which foods increase and which decrease the risk of premature heart disease deaths.

How Was The Study Done?

diet for heart disease prevention studyThe authors of the current study analyzed data from the “Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) Study”, a major world-wide effort designed to estimate the portions of deaths caused by various risk factors.

The current study focused on the impact of 12 dietary risk factors on heart disease deaths between 1990 and 2016 for 51 countries in four regions (Western Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia).

The dietary risk factors were:

  • Diets low in fiber, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains.
  • Diets high in sodium, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and trans fatty acids.

Saturated fat and meat were not explicitly included in the GBS Study data. However, diets low in polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fats are likely high in saturated fats. Similarly, diets low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are likely higher in meats. The study also did not include dairy, and some recent studies suggest that some dairy foods may decrease heart disease risk.

For simplicity I will only consider the findings from Western Europe because their diet and heart disease death trends are similar to those in the United States.

 

Best Diet for Heart Disease Prevention?

plant-based diet bestThe study found that in 2016 (the last year for which data were available):

  • Dietary risk factors were responsible for 49.2% of heart disease deaths.
  • 6% of all diet-related heart disease deaths occurred in adults younger than 70, and that percentage has been increasing in recent years.

When they looked at the contribution of individual foods to diet related heart disease deaths, the percentages were:

  • Diets low in whole grains = 20.4%
  • Diets low in nuts and seeds = 16.2%
  • Diets low in fruits = 12.5%
  • Diets high in sodium = 12.0%
  • Diets low in omega-3s = 10.8%
  • strong heartDiets low in vegetables = 9.0%
  • Diets low in legumes = 7.0%
  • Diets low in fiber = 5.7%
  • Diets low in polyunsaturated fats = 3.7%
  • Diets high in processed meats = 1.6%
  • Diets high in trans fatty acids = 0.8%
  • Diets high in sugar-sweetened beverages = 0.1%

So, what is the best diet for heart disease prevention?

In short, this study concluded:

  • A primarily plant-based diet is the best protection against premature death due to heart disease.
  • All plant-based food groups (whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and legumes) play an important role in reducing heart disease deaths.
  • Meat was not included in the analysis, but it is likely that most people’s diets in this region of the world contained some meat. The most likely take-away is that meat does not affect heart disease risk in the context of a primarily plant-based diet.
  • Dairy was not included in the analysis either, but some studies suggest dairy, particularly fermented dairy foods, reduce heart disease risk.
  • Finally, the study concluded: “Compared to other…modifiable risk factors (physical inactivity, drug and alcohol abuse, tobacco smoking, obesity, etc.), an altered diet is the most effective means of preventing premature deaths from cardiovascular disease in Western Europe.”

While every study has its weaknesses, this study is consistent with multiple previous studies showing that primarily plant-based diets are best for reducing heart disease risk. You will find a more complete discussion of these studies in my book “Slaying The Food Myths.”

 

Are the American Heart Association’s Recommendations Correct?

With this study’s results in mind we can now ask whether the recommendations of the American Heart Association and other popular diets are correct. Are they likely to reduce heart disease deaths?

  • The American Heart Association Recommends a dietary pattern that emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, skinless poultry and fish, and low-fat dairy products. This study supports those recommendations.
  • This study also supports the heart-health benefits of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
  • Meat and dairy were not explicitly considered in this study. Thus, the results of this study are also consistent with vegan and semi-vegetarian diets.
  • However, low carb diets like Paleo and keto eliminate some of the key food groups (whole grains, fruits, and legumes) that appear to be essential for reducing heart disease risk. 40% of the heart-health benefits in this study came from those 3 food groups. Thus, this study does not support claims that those two diets are heart-healthy long term.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Everyone has a magic diet for reducing heart disease risk. The American Heart Association tells us to avoid fats, especially saturated fats. Vegans tell us to avoid animal protein. Paleo and keto enthusiasts tell us carbs are the problem. Who is correct?

A recent study provides some important clues. It looked at dietary patterns associated with reduced risk of premature death from heart disease in Western Europe. The study concluded:

  • A primarily plant-based diet is the best protection against premature death due to heart disease.
  • All plant-based food groups (whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and legumes) play an important role in reducing heart disease deaths.
  • Meat did not appear to affect heart disease risk in the context of a primarily plant-based diet.
  • Dairy was not included in the analysis, but some studies suggest dairy, particularly fermented dairy foods, reduce heart disease risk.
  • Finally, the study concluded: “Compared to other…modifiable risk factors (physical inactivity, drug and alcohol abuse, tobacco smoking, obesity, etc.), an altered diet is the most effective means of preventing premature deaths from cardiovascular disease.”

While every study has its weaknesses, this study is consistent with multiple previous studies showing that primarily plant-based diets are best for reducing heart disease risk. You will find a more complete discussion of these studies in my book “Slaying The Food Myths.”

With this study’s results in mind we can now ask whether the recommendations of the American Heart Association and other popular diets are correct. Are they likely to reduce heart disease deaths?

  • The American Heart Association Recommends a dietary pattern that emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, skinless poultry and fish, and low-fat dairy products. This study supports those recommendations.
  • This study also supports the heart-health benefits of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
  • Meat and dairy were not explicitly considered in this study. Thus, the results of this study are also consistent with vegan and semi-vegetarian diets.
  • However, low carb diets like Paleo and keto eliminate some of the key food groups (whole grains, fruits, and legumes) that appear to be essential for reducing heart disease risk. 40% of the heart-health benefits in this study came from those 3 food groups. Thus, this study does not support claims that those two diets are heart-healthy long term.

For more details read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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