Monday, September 3, 2012

Prideful Oreos

Several weeks ago I wrote a post examining the evidence related to people avoiding Chik-fil-a because "the food is bad for you."  Here's my conclusion:

"So does 'the food at Chik-fil-a is bad for you' have any basis in evidence?  The statements above would indicate that regular consumption of it, assuming that regular consumption includes the fried items and sandwiches, would influence weight gain, poor blood glucose control, and increase your risk for atherosclerosis.   But you could also level this claim at pretty much any fast food restaurant.
SkepticRD is left with this question:  'If you have evidence that regular consumption of a particular product is unhealthy for you and most likely your family, and yet you vow to consume it regularly to forward or support your particular belief system or political agenda, how does this in anyway help form a healthy country, family, or even individuals?'  If anyone has any evidence to support the premise that your sickness will somehow influence wellness in others, I would very much be interested in hearing it. 
P.S. Because I am a Humanist, I feel that I should state that I would not give my dollars to an organization that gives their money to certified hate groups.  Should they be silenced or not allowed to have a business?  No.  I also want to state that I had similar thoughts about risking our health in support of a company when Oreos blew up the internet.  If anyone would like me to deconstruct Oreos, I would be happy to.  'Cause SkepticRD is a nerd like that."

I haven't received an answer to my question stated above (yet), but I did get the request to talk about Oreos, so let's see what we have.

The ingredients for Oreos are readily available on the internet.  Interesting that this particular format does not provide the serving size easy to determine format, but a quick trip to the local store indicates the serving size listed above is the equivalent of three Oreos.

1) The combination of cane sugar, flour, high fructose corn syrup, and very little fiber provide a net carbohydrate of 24 grams.  So let's say you are a person dealing with an insulin-resistant health problem such as heart disease, elevated lipid levels, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes/pre-diabetes, or if you are one of my patients, e) all of the above.  On AVERAGE your carbohydrate intake is going to be about 30 gm per meal.  So, you just used up your carbohydrate budget on 3 Oreos.  No room for fruit, bread, sweet potatoes, etc at that meal. "Alright," you say, "I've made a point to stay within my calorie/carbohydrate budget.  So what's the problem?"

2) From an observational standpoint, do you know anybody who likes Oreos that stops at 2 or 3?  Really?  Typically when I asked this question in my diabetes classes I would get a resounding "No!"  Now, there are people who do like to brag about their will of iron and call everyone else weak twelve year-olds, and there are people like Boyfriend of SkepticRD who are very good at stopping when they have had just enough of something to eat.   If you are one of those people, wonderful, I'm happy for you.  Given that there is some evidence that indicates that some sugar laden processed food might have addictive qualities (Link), and life can be hard enough as it is, do some of us really need the temptation available?

3) And once again, for those of you who can stay within your calorie/carb/portion budget, you aren't going to get much nutrition for your calories.  You will get small amounts of B-vitamins from the enriched flour, but that's it.  For 1 cup of baked sweet potatoes, on the other hand, you can get a lot more vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, fiber, etc.  And you might actually feel like you're getting more volume (i.e. filling your stomach) which helps you feel more satisfied.

4) But what about the high fructose corn syrup?  As I have said before on this blog, the main problem with HFCS is that it makes it cheaper and therefore easier to over consume.  So if cane sugar was the only form of sweetener, then the company would have to charge more to make a profit.  Some  people might pay more, others won't, and if the company is for profit, then they are likely to go with cheaper ingredients to attempt to reach a broader market.

5) But aren't Oreos full of hydrogenated oil?  First of all, unless you are brand new to learning about nutrition, you probably have an idea that a product made with hydrogenated fats contains trans-fats which can raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, may cause inflammation, etc (that was a very simple breakdown).   Second of all, Oreos have not used hydrogenated oils since 2006.   The vegetable oils that are used, however, primarily canola and soy, do contain more omega-6 fats, which can play a role in inflammation when consumed in excess (written about here).   

6) But what if I consume them in moderation?  Well, see point number two.  Honestly ask yourself if you can stop at 2 or 3 cookies first, if you can't, then there is no moderation for you for this food and I'm glad you were honest with yourself.  If you can consume only small amounts, then you have to think about whether or not you are meeting your goals.  Have you allowed yourself one mini-pack a week and you're keeping your weight down and blood sugar in good control?  Good for you, you've found moderation.  Have you been eating 2 or 3 cookies daily and find your weight is creeping up?  Then it's time to face reality and cut down/cut out again.

7) Obviously these are not a good idea for the gluten intolerant.  There are gluten free versions out there, which I personally have found quite tasty, but I don't usually buy them because all I am doing is paying more money for basically all of the above problems I have pointed out. 

Once again, as a Humanist I'm always glad when a company comes out for equal rights,  but once again, I realize that regular consumption of any product that doesn't contribute to wellness falls flat. 

P.S. At the store I found this.  Sigh.  At least I will have some more blog material.

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