In this continuing series of Deceptions in the Food Industry, I want to address yet another fallacy the food industry uses to make us think a product they sell is healthy – baked versus fried on labels. I know a lot of people who eat real food would never touch a bag of the above pictured products. But, I still see a lot of people in general eating these foods, and I see them sold in many places.
I frequently see packages of chips, crackers, or other packaged foods that read “baked” or “baked instead of fried” on the label. I also hear people say that when you bake something instead of fry it – even some home-made foods – it’s healthier.
When you honestly think about this statement, does it really make any sense? If the premise is that the food is healthier because it’s baked in the oven, that’s just plain wrong. Why would something be healthier just because it’s not fried?
If the premise is that fat is unhealthy, that’s also wrong. Don’t believe me? Read this article by cardiologist Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D., who admits the low-fat scam we’ve been fed by conventional health simply isn’t true. Dr. Joseph Mercola also believes saturated fats are really important for health too. There’s also this blog post by Tim Ferriss with an explanation by bariatric doctors (those who treat obesity) Dr. Michael Eades and Dr. Mary Eades: 7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fats.
Over the last 50+ years, many people have associated fried with foods like french fries, battered items like fish, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken fried steak, tater tots, fried calamari, etc. What makes the food unhealthy is not that it’s deep fried. It’s the fact that it’s cooked in a highly processed oil that it is harmful to consume.
Here’s an explanation from eHow about why baked is healthier than fried:
“There really is no competition when it comes to weight loss. Fried foods, eaten regularly, will defeat all the hard work that you put into creating a healthy lifestyle. Baked foods, on the other hand, allow you to actually taste the food without contributing to an expanding waistline and a diminished quality of life. Just compare the calorie and fat content of a fried chicken drumstick (905 calories, 52.39 grams of fat) to a baked drumstick (110 calories, 10.1 grams of fat).”
Notice how the first explanation of why baked is healthier than fried never actually tells you why baked foods are healthier. It just talks about caloric amount and fat content. So according to this source, the act of baking causes less calories and less fat. Sorry, don’t buy it (see references above about why saturated fat is healthy for us to eat). And the only way it could be less calories and fat is if less oil was used and the chicken was somehow reduced in fat content. I’m not sure if the second is actually possible when it’s simply compared with cooking the same type of chicken by frying. But we aren’t given that information, so the whole statement is misleading.
Here’s Livestrong’s explanation about why baking is healthier than frying:
“Just because a dish is prepared by baking doesn’t mean that it’s low in fat. The food may have a high fat content to start with, which is the case when it comes to animal products like meat and cheese. To eliminate excess fat from baked foods, prepare them in a dish that allows the oil to drain away, such as a roasting pan. Since animal skin is also high in fat, remove it before eating to further reduce calories in the dish.”
Now we’ve got a second explanation, which tells us that it’s the type of pan we cook our foods in, such as a baking dish, which allows oil to “drain away” and the fact that we should remove any excess fat from the animal product, to reduce its calories and therefore make it healthier.
The problem isn’t with calories or fat, it’s with the kind of fat and calories – most of which are industrial fats (probably some type of canola, soybean, or cottonseed oil) and factory-farmed chicken. We need fat and calories to keep us going, give us energy, keep our moods and blood sugar level, nourish our brains, nervous systems and cardiovascular system, conceive, nurse, and carry babies, and so that every cell in our bodies can function properly.
I’m always amused when medical web sites try to advise on nutrition. Physicians typically have no training in real nutrition, and the recommendations I’ve seen are usually wrong. They tell us to limit our calories, fat, portion sizes, eat more grains, vegetables, and exercise more. They are also critical of animal fats, in particular red meat, and tell us it’s healthy to consume polyunsaturated fats for good heart health.
Let’s be real here. We’ve been told to eat this way for decades. I frequently hear people complaining that they are hungry, are exercising themselves to death, and are still having weight and health problems.
Are disease rates going down? I think not! Here are statistics from the CDC on obesity, a strong predictor of general health decline.
I wrote a post about the dangers of polyunsaturated fats. Here’s an excerpt:
“Remember that many of the polyunsaturated fats are new fats that have only been around for just over a hundred years. Even though oils like cottonseed, soy, and others like corn, safflower, and sunflower have existed in plants, they haven’t been available in their current states on the grocery store shelves in bottles as sold in mass production. These oils are processed, refined, deodorized, and subjected to high heat temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats are very fragile and are denatured easily, while saturated fats have been used in cooking for thousands of years and have stood the test of time for consumption and overall good effect on health.
When you consider the history of humanity and how long people have eaten real fats like butter, lard, and tallow from animals and animal products, it’s pretty obvious what’s been causing the spike in cardiovascular and other health diseases since the industrial revolution.”
Because the foods are cooked in rancid, highly processed, deodorized, polyunsaturated that are manufactured under high heat temperatures, it really makes these oils as bad as the hydrogenated oils that food companies are now often fond of claiming are not contained in their products. Plus, when foods like potatoes, corn, and other foods including cereals, crackers, and breads – pretty much all starchy foods – are fried in these or really any oils, they become carcinogenic due to the acrylamides generated by the process of raising the temperature.
According to TruthAboutAbs:
“Acrylamides in foods were discovered in 2002 by Swedish scientists, and made some big headlines (at least in America) when they were first reported. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) really has not acknowledged the negative impact of cancer-causing acrylamides, and food manufacturers, so far, are not putting warning labels on their products concerning the levels of acrylamides, either.
Acrylamides are cancer-causing chemicals that are created when foods are grilled, fried, baked or roasted at fairly high temperatures. It is thought that an amino acid found in starchy foods, changes its form when heated to become acrylamide. High-temperature cooking methods, such as frying, baking, or broiling, have been found to produce the most acrylamides, while boiling and steaming produce far less.
The World Health Organization, (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that levels of acrylamides in certain foods pose a “major concern” and more research is needed to determine the dangers.
In one study, it was found that women who consumed 40 micrograms or more of acrylamides each day had twice the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer risk of women who ate foods with little or no acrylamides. 40 mcg is the amount of acrylamides in a small portion of potato chips.”
The chemical storm that makes up processed foods
There are also a lot of other undesirable ingredients in these foods as well…refined table salt, soy lecithin, sugar, corn syrup, and corn starch (the last 3 almost always from GMO sources). Over the last several years, reports have been increasing that this GMO substance contains mercury as well.
Even though companies like Lay’s Potato Chips, are now hitting heavy on marketing their products by emphasizing on the label that their chips only have 3 ingredients, guess what? As we’ve already shown, those ingredients are still some of the worst things you could put in your body! Their web site says, “All natural oil” (sunflower and corn oil). Again, these are polyunsaturated fats that are heavily processed under high heat, and like all polyunsaturated fats, are fragile and their bonds break down in those conditions.
Another problem is these oils are too high in Omega 6s. This is a major reason why we have so many health issues. Too many Omega 6s cause an inflammatory response in the body, and ultimately, disease.
A few weeks ago I noticed that food companies are now resorting to selling “chips” made from beans and other substances, as though somehow these are healthier than the potato and corn chips people have been eating for decades. The ones I saw were black bean and lentil “chips”, once again baked, and touting various health claims on the package such as “no saturated fat”, “natural”, “healthy”, and of course, “baked”.
What kind of fat is are these products cooked in? More of the same: polyunsaturated vegetable oils like sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil. Sorry folks, this is still not healthy.
There are only two of these oils which have been around for many years and only one that people actually consumed in the historical past: sunflower and safflower oil. But these oils are most often expeller pressed and subjected to high heat, so they become rancid and should be avoided as well. Safflower oil was never used as an oil for consumption, it was instead used in industrial and commercial contexts such as for cosmetics, dyes, and painting.
The science behind why polyunsaturated fats are so unhealthy
If you eat these foods regularly, you might as well say hello to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune problems, and weight issues. Those substances build up calcium deposits in your body, and in particular, your arteries. This is one of the culprits of hardening of the arteries, or cardiovascular disease. In 1994 a study published in the The Lancet revealed that nearly three quarters of the fat in artery clogs is unsaturated, with very little of it being from saturated fat.
The very nature of polyunsaturated molecules is that they are highly unstable. They have more than one double bond, and normally share those electrons with other atoms to enable the molecule to become stable and saturated. Oxygen is attracted to the extra electrons in the polyunsaturated molecule because it is absent two electrons in its outer shell, making it relatively reactive. The more unsaturated the molecule is, the higher the likelihood is of it being unstable at a faster rate. Heated polyunsaturated oils like canola, corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils become oxidized which causes rancidity. Thus, saturated oils are the most stable and most suitable for cooking.
So, give up the very non-scientific notion that fat is bad for you to eat. And remember that despite the decrease in butter consumption per person annually of about 18 pounds in the earlier part of the 20th century to about 4 pounds per year in modern day, heart disease began increasing around that time and is still on the rise. What replaced butter and other animal fats like lard and tallow around that same time period was modern, polyunsaturated vegetable oils – and also white flour and sugar.
Read this post which tells the truth about cottonseed oil, how prevalent it was and still is, and how it was developed.
Have you read the other posts in my Deceptions in the Food Industry series?
The oiling of America – Weston A. Price Foundation
Fat Head the movie – exerpt
Gary Taubes – cholesterol and saturated fats
Cholesterol-and-Health.com – Chris Masterjohn – web site with scientific discussions about why cholesterol and fat are healthy for us
Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You – Uffne Ravnskov
Put Your Heart in Your Mouth – Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride