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Claims are often made on packaged foods as a way to convince you it may be healthier and you buy it. For instance, "low in fat", "low in cholesterol", "fortified with iron or calcium" or "enriched with vitamins". Here's a quick guide to some of the problems with these claims.
What is Fortified?
Fortified means that a nutrient has been added to the food because during manufacturing it was removed, or it was never naturally present. They tend to be isolated nutrients that studies have been shown are deficient in our diet ie. iron.
The problem with fortification is that the natural synergy of nutrients is lost with they are taken separately like this. What I mean by this is natural foods contain many nutrients that the body can easily recognize because they are in their natural state and therefore, you can easily digest and absorb. There are literally thousands of nutrients and phytochemicals that work together in a perfect state of harmony. When you isolate one, the body simply doesn't recognize it the same way.
Furthermore, foods are fortified using the cheapest form of a nutrient that your body cannot even absorb. Remember, it's to sell the product, not to make you healthy. Calcium and vitamin D are great examples of this. Usually the type of calcium used is calcium carbonate which is poorly used by the body and can lead to a build up of calcium deposits that can cause health problems. Calcium uptake is affected by magnesium, vitamind D, boron, fibre and many other nutrients that occur naturally in foods.
Nature has a way of getting it right that packaged foods simply cannot replicate.
Vitamin D is another great example. Many beverages fortified with D are using the absolute cheapest form of D, vitamin D2 which your body does not recognize or absorb. Don't waste your money.
What is Enriched?
Pasta (and rice) is a great example of this. During the processing of the grain, virtually all the B vitamins are removed, plus most of the minerals, all of the fibre and good fat, leaving you with a starchy, highly refined product with very little nutritional value. By law, food manufacturers are required to add back the B vitamins. However, the form of these vitamins is not the same form they were naturally present in the grain before it was refined.
Just look at the label of any white rice or white pasta product and you will see all the B vitamins listed. Buy whole grain pasta or brown rice and you certainly won't see vitamins listed. Why? Because whole real food doesn't need to add what is already naturally present!
Remember, healthy food doesn't need a health claim! If you are confused with what's healthy and what's not healthy just eat real food and you won't have to decipher the mixed marketing messages.