October 7, 2007

ADA Conference: Define "Great"

Frito-Lay had the following sign you see on your right at their stand (in case you can't quite make it out, the first sentence reads, "Frito-Lay chips are a great way to add healthier oils to the diet.") at the ADA's Food and Nutrition Conference Expo.

A "great" way? I think the marketing team got a little carried away.

While their products do contain healthy fats, they aren't exactly a nutrition powerhouse (offering a measly 1 gram of fiber per serving and not much in terms of vitamins and minerals, except for their potato chips, which contain a fair amount of potassium).

I could think of better ways to get heart-healthy fats -- avocados, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, tempeh, tofu, salmon, tuna, and flaxseed, to name a few.

Adding avocado slices to a salad, or some ground flaxseed to a smoothie truly are great ways to add healthy fats to your diet, since they also contribute vitamins and minerals.

Besides, this sign is making a confusing claim. Notice that the terminology isn't "healthier fats" (ie: chips containing vegetable oils rather than something friend in animal fat or butter), but rather "healthier oils." Huh?

What exactly is an "unhealthy oil"? I can think of unhealthy fats, like lard and butter (none of which are oils), but despite there being some oils (i.e.: olive oil) that are heart-healthier than others, I can't think of one I would categorize as unhealthy.

Enjoying a handful of Tostitos is far from being a nutrition no-no, but if someone needs to incorporate heart-healthy fats into their diet, chips are far from the first thing I would recommend.

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