What if all the supposed health benefits of gobbling up your fruits and vegetables were nothing more than a fancy marketing campaign? That’s the controversial claim raised this week in an article out of the UK, and amplified by talk radio. Not only is the five-a-day message nothing more than an advertising slogan conjured up by a group of produce companies, but recent studies also suggest that a diet of roots and berries provides no health advantages:
[A large study], which examined half a million people over eight years, reported that fruit and veg offer no protection against breast, prostate, bowel, lung or any other kind of tumour. Those eating the most fruit and veg showed no difference in cancer risk compared with those eating the least.
I’d like to look more closely at the internals of that study. But what if working class fruits and vegetables, and their royal kin – açaí berries, pomegranates – are in fact the icons of a new religion? For eons, people have worshipped a higher power to achieve good health and guard against misfortune. Perhaps we now expect the same security from Superfoods – and apparently without any evidence.
However, I believe the article goes too far in its attack on fruits and fruit sugar, noting that fructose “goes straight to the liver, and is stored as fat. Very few people understand or want to believe this biochemical fact.”
But surely, since you need calories for energy, you are better off consuming your sugars from a natural source? The author provides no real alternative. Before declaring fruits to be literal eye candy, I would recommend the author take a trip to this country, where even the donut shops offer a drive-thru window.
In any event, the article concludes that natural fats (as opposed to trans-fats) are “essential to our wellbeing”:
According to a recent survey, the British people are deficient in vitamins A, D, E — all of which are fat-soluble. If we added a dollop of butter to our portion of vegetables, they would be better for us — not worse.
Do we really need more fat in our diet? Again, I think a stateside visit for this author would be eye-opening. The image below is not a Photoshop, but an actual item coming to store shelves near you: