The Truth Behind Food Headlines
We do what we must to pique your interest in food news, but some headlines go to the extreme. Here are three recent studies whose headlines don't do their findings justice.
Eat More Chocolate, Weigh Less
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports those who eat chocolate more frequently were significantly more likely to have a lower BMI despite exercising just as frequently as their counterparts. But the findings come with a caveat, participants eating habits' were self-reported. The truth behind this headline is the findings may be due to participants' awareness of their daily calorie counts. Multiple studies have shown that obese patients underreport their caloric intake and overreport their physical activity compared to those who are normal weight. A more important finding of the study is participants who ate more chocolate were found to consume more calories and saturated fat than those who did not. So you know, the almost 1,000 participants averaged eating chocolate twice a week.
Popcorn as Healthy as Fruit and Vegetables
Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found popcorn to have more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables. Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton said, "Based on fiber, whole grains, and antioxidant levels, popcorn is the king of snack foods." But don't invest in Orville Redenbacher just yet. The concentration of polyphenols found in the kernel of popcorn is higher because it lacks the water that most fruits and vegetables are made of. Still the daily polyphenol content for Americans is only slightly different when you consider daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. While popcorn provides around 300 mg a serving, Americans already get about 255 mg and 218 mg a day from fruits and vegetables, respectively. Another point the study doesn't mention is the body's ability to use the antioxidant. Because much of of it is found in the hull, which is insoluble fiber, it may go through the body fairly quickly. Suffice it to say, the lead researcher pointed out that popcorn cannot replace fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet.
American Fast Food Contains More Salt
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), processed and restaurant foods make up 77% of Americans’ sodium intake, but you may be surprised to know that fast food's sodium content is different overseas. In fact, the same order of Chicken McNuggets means three times more salt in the US than in the UK according to a report by the Canadian Medical Association Journal. McDonald's isn't the only restaurant with discrepancies, Subway's club sandwich has 1,200 mg of sodium compared to just 500 mg of salt in the French version. The findings show the United Kingdom has the lowest amount of salt across the six countries studied, which researchers attribute to the food industry's participation in salt reduction, likely spurred by public policy. The truth behind this headline is that multinational fast food companies may use the guidelines enforced by the governments in which they operate to meet the taste expectations of their customers. Though many companies who have vowed to draw down sodium in foods have cited technical reasons as a barrier to doing so, the findings suggest fast food manufacturers knowingly pour more salt in foods for Americans.
What truths about food are continually veiled by snappy headlines?