It's only fair to share…

Healthy groceries

Here is something you are likely to have missed. The Canadian Heart And Stroke Foundation is ending its Heart Check program. This is the equivalent of the tick program in Australia where certain foods get a tick for being “healthy”.

One small problem- many of them were not.

The Canadian program’s site says, “All Health Check grocery products and menu items are evaluated by the Heart and Stroke Foundations registered dieticians”. And that the Health Check logo tells you the food or item menu “… can contribute to an overall healthy diet”.

In its announcement about ending the program it stated “… Health Check is no longer the right program for the time”.

Similar programs worldwide essentially gave ticks to foods, which were low in fat and gave little or no consideration to sugar content. This video explains it perfectly.

It had also emerged that (subject to meeting the criteria) companies had to pay for the tick.

Dr Jonathan Gordon correctly says that the Canadian Foundation owes the public an apology. The same could be said of its Australian counterpart.

All this has come about from the belief that fat in the diet is bad.

Lets be clear, the biggest problem in our diet is processed carbohydrates. Saturated fats are not the problem and never have been.

The same obsession with fats and cholesterol has driven the use of statin medication. Last year there was a call to retract an article in the BMJ critical of the over use of statins. When an interim finding showed that the papers had over stated the percentage of side effects there was great noise and publicity.

The final report has vindicated the papers and confirmed that side effects are a major problem and that they were overused and often ineffective. But goes further and criticises the Cholesterol Treatment Collaboration, which holds much data on statins but does not release it.

Yet this report has generated little media attention.

Last year a TV program raising questions about the use of statins also got roundly criticised. The Australian ABC effectively went to water over this and had the episodes taken down. This was in spite of the fact that another independent review found no fault with the substantive claims made in the program.

Where we lost the plot is when we stopped eating food and started eating nutrients. This leads to the whole notion of classifying manufactured food according to what is in it. In turn this classification depends on what importance is given to each component. Fortunately the traffic light system proposed for Australia has not gone ahead.

As Dr Gordon says “no symbol, no matter how many experts were involved in its development, can convince me that a package of highly processed sugar bites is a substitute for real food”.

As Jamie Oliver has observed; Real food has no ingredients, real food is ingredients. You don’t need a label or tick on an apple of carrot to tell you what is in it. Neither does a steak or piece of fish.

We need to eat mainly real food which until recently was growing somewhere or moving around. We can have some treats too but not make it the main part of our diet.

Eating what is best for our bodies and health is not difficult. It has been made so by “experts” who generally are wrong.

With our eating plans we simply need to go back to basics.