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Friend or Foe? Sunchips Harvest Cheddar Multigrain Chips

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Words like “sun”, “harvest” and “multigrain” sound so earthy, healthy and natural, right?  Perhaps not…  

This post isn’t about chips… (I’m sure you can guess my recommendations about most chips… Lol.) It’s about corrupt and deceptive claims that are legally permitted on “foods” which are mainly processed and not at all health promoting.  For the less informed, these claims can be really misleading.  I hear clients in my clinic refer to products like this as “more healthy chips” or the ones “that aren’t too bad”…

The label claim says, “Heart healthy”, and the small print on the label says, “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Does this food align with its claim?  

I believe that claims like this are manipulative and tend to take advantage of the uneducated buyer.  

Here’s what I mean:  Are diets rich in whole grains associated with a lowered risk of heart disease? Yes, they are.1  And does this product contain whole grains?  Yes, it does.  So technically, the claim is true and legally sound.  

However, there is an implication that therefore, since this food contains whole grains (although they really shouldn’t be considered whole in this processed form), it must be a health-promoting food.  This is NOT the case.  There is a big difference between, for example, a cup of cooked brown rice and a cup of processed rice-derived chips!  

In order to get the “whole grains” from this source (which again, really can’t even be considered whole in the processed form), you will also have to intake several ingredients that are far from healthy such as: genetically modified corn (first ingredient), sugar, GMO canola oil and a number of non-organic dairy ingredients which likely include excess hormones, antibiotics and other potential toxins and allergens.  Genetically modified foods cause many problems (negating the potential benefits of the claim).2 Sugar consumption is associated with diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease.3,4  High fat dairy products (such as cheese) tend to be higher in saturated fats which can also contribute to heart disease.5

So, in case it’s not clear, I do not support claims like this and don’t believe them to be scientifically accurate or ethically sound.  If they are going to make these claims, then they should have to tell the entire story rather than report on one ingredient out of context.  It doesn’t matter what that one ingredient does when it’s compromised or corrupted by the other ingredients that it’s bound to in this processed snack.  

The best way to ensure that you are getting a good diet and don’t have to worry about toxic ingredients is to eat whole plant foods that are mostly made at home.  There are so many delicious options and endless combinations in the plant world.  You’re way too valuable to eat poor quality junk food!

Reference List:

1. Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, et al. Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: Systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2016. doi:10.1136/bmj.i2716

2. Genetically Modified Foods. American Academy of Environmental Medicine. https://www.aaemonline.org/gmo.php. Published 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.

3. DiNicolantonio JJ, OKeefe JH. Added sugars drive coronary heart disease via insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia: a new paradigm. Open Hear. 2017. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2017-000729

4. Hajar R. Risk factors for coronary artery disease: Historical perspectives. Hear Views. 2017. doi:10.4103/heartviews.heartviews_106_17

5. Briggs M, Petersen K, Kris-Etherton P. Saturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Replacements for Saturated Fat to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk. Healthcare. 2017. doi:10.3390/healthcare5020029

Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.  It does not take the place of a health care practitioner.  It is for educational purposes only.