Don’t eat that! It’s full of chemicals!

chemicalsA current ad for a sports energy product goes something like this:

Those other sports drinks are full of chemicals!  Don’t drink those.  

Drink our product.  It has antioxidants and nutrients. 

The implication: No chemicals!  Health Halo.


In fact, nutrition is all about chemicals.  All nutrients are chemicals.  All food components are made up of chemicals, even fiber.  Water is a chemical.  Nutrients, food components and those “pure” antioxidants and vitamins in that special energy drink are all chemicals.

Food marketers aren’t dumb.  They know consumers don’t like the word “chemical”.  It conjures unpleasant images of pollutants.  So marketers put that negative image to work to make their products look healthier.  Don’t be fooled by their sneaky marketing messages.   No product is healthier because it doesn’t contain “chemicals”.

This particular ad claim is especially silly, considering that all sports and energy products are entirely fabricated from chemicals.  None of these products exist in Nature.  They’re all manufactured, just like Coca Cola, Pepsi or Mountain Dew.  None of them deserve a Health Halo.

Which bring up a twist our collective chemical phobia.  You might want to avoid certain chemicals, such as:

  • colorings
  • flavorings
  • flavor enhancers
  • texturizers
  • artificial sweeteners
  • fake fat
  • preservatives

Whole foods don’t need or contain any of those.  An orange is just that; no additives needed, although it does contain that “chemical” vitamin C.  If you want to buy foods that really do deserve a Health Halo, check labels and avoid products that list a bunch of additives like those above.  For example, choose yogurt that’s made from “milk, cultures, sugar” vs. yogurt that’s made with “milk, thickeners, texturizers, coloring, fruit flavor, artificial sweeteners”.   If you make it a habit to avoid products that are manufactured with additives, you’ll end up eating a less processed diet.

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