Friday, March 30, 2007

Ingles Supermarket Supplying Customers With Uninformed 'Heart-Healthy' Diet Advice

Ingles dietitian McGrath should not be passing on bad dietary advice

Health information is everywhere these days. From your doctor’s office to public service announcements on the radio and television to annoying and utterly meaningless “heart-healthy” claims that appear on the packaging of some pretty awful food products on grocery store shelves today. Like I said, this stuff's EVERYWHERE!

But imagine my surprise to find information about health in a very odd place--your friendly local supermarket. I was flipping through one of those weekly circular grocery store newspapers with that week’s specials for Ingles grocery stores when I saw this blaring headline that you couldn't help but pay attention to:

“It’s all about the heart!”

As the skeptical person I have unfortunately become regarding any and all health claims about “the heart” these days, I admit my curiosity was piqued. Yet I was bracing for the predictable and was not disappointed by what passes as good health advice in 2007. I'm sure you can predict it, too.

With a picture of a smiling young dad carrying around his mouth-wide-open cherub of a baby (very cute, too!) as the mom gazes on with prideful joy and all smiles as well. Of course, they’re out taking a brisk walk as evidenced by their attire because we know EVERYONE should get in “regular exercise, at least 20 minutes every day,” according to this article right slab in the middle of the Ingles grocery flyer written by Ingles Dietitian Leah McGrath, RD, LDN.

Oh goodie, another duh-duh-dietitian (nightmares still haunt me about this one--LOL!) telling us how we are supposed to eat. Yippee freakin’ skippy. So what else exactly does she have to share about “the heart” in her company’s circular ad? Too bad for the unsuspecting average Joe and Jane reading this flyer, the answer to that question sadly is PLENTY!

You knew McGrath would say SOMETHING about cholesterol and she hits the ground running with it in the first paragraph when we are spoon-fed that good old standby line that “high LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol” is what “increases your risk of heart disease.”


Can we safely say based on this thorough blog post I wrote about cholesterol recently those archaic beliefs are absolutely not true? Ms. McGrath, please educate yourself better about nutrition if you are going to disseminate information to the public about their health, especially as it relates to “the heart.” The very latest research shows you are wrong.

How do I know this? Check out what she says are “other culprits” besides hereditary reasons for “high cholesterol.” This is verbatim what McGrath provided in the article:

Lack of exercise
Poor eating habits (high fat diet)
Being overweight or obese

She added, “Making small changes in your eating habits and lifestyle choices may be all it takes to reduce…total cholesterol under 200mg/dL.”

Did you notice how right dab in the middle of that laundry list of mostly reasonable explanations for elevated cholesterol, McGrath couldn’t resist putting in a jab at a “high fat diet?” Yes, it is true that smoking, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, stress, and obesity can lead to elevated cholesterol levels. Fair enough.

But who says “high cholesterol” defined as 200mg/dL is necessarily a bad thing when the research does not support this?

Oh yeah, that's right--doctors and dietitians like McGrath actually think a “high fat diet” is harmful. Of course they do siince that's the only message they know. Yet with all this consensus on what is considered healthy for “the heart,” how can some layman without any nutritional background like Jimmy Moore go around claiming that all of them are wrong and he is right? Do you wanna know HOW I can? Because the science is proving they are wrong and I trust the unbiased studies I cite so often here at my blog.

Sadly, most of the people in the medical community who still actively promote low-fat as the only way to eat healthy for “the heart” have failed to update their education beyond the 1960s. Hello people! There’s a whole lotta learning to do that somehow has failed to cross your eyeballs for several decades. If you truly care about your patients, then start the learning process immediately!

I don’t know if some of the old-timers have the attitude that there’s nothing new to teach them since they’ve been treating patients the same way for their entire career or what. But even the new doctors have this same indoctrination about low-fat diets being somehow healthier for people despite all the mountains of research otherwise.

Maybe it’s the medical schools that need to heed the message to update their educational materials for these fresh medical students. But you and I both know that’ll never happen as long as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and other such “health” organizations keep spouting the same failed low-fat message over and over again. This maddening cycle needs to end if we are ever going to move forward in tackling obesity.

The following may seem obvious to those of us who have been livin’ la vida low-carb a while, but I’ll say it anyway for the many newbies and those who are first getting used to the vernacular of diet-speak.

Whenever you hear the phrase “high fat diet” (like McGrath used), I want you to translate that to mean a low-carbohydrate diet. The low-fat diet advocates like throwing this around as if it is something awful (much in the same way the people who support abortion call people who are pro-life the much more agregious-sounding “anti-abortion”).

Conversely, when you hear “low-fat diet,” I want your brain to understand that to be a mostly high-carb diet since they recommend people consume a mindboggling 60-75 percent carbs daily as part of a supposedly healthy diet.

This will help keep it in the right perspective for you.

McGrath also discusses a list of 10 ways to show you care about your heart that are a mixed bag—some good, some bad, and some absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt ignorant advice. Let’s take a look:

1. Reduce the saturated fats in your diet. Eat less red meat or leaner cuts of red meat. Eat more chicken, turkey and fish and try having vegetarian meals.

Why would I do this when saturated fat has been found to be a HEALTHY thing to eat, hmmm? There is no good reason at all to eat less or leaner cuts of red meat. NONE!

While those other meats are delicious ways to get your fat and protein, I will certainly be enjoying a fat, juicy steak if I so choose. As for the “try having vegetarian meals,” my only question is how many vegetarians I can eat? HA!

2. Bake broil or grill your meat. Avoid eating fried foods.

Hmmm, this is a tricky one because I agree with the advice to shun the fried foods specifically because of the breading. But if you want to fry up your meat in a pan full of butter, then knock yourself out. It’s a healthy way to enjoy that succulent protein-loaded food.

While it’s nice to bake, broil, and especially grill meats, don’t fall for the illusion that cooking these ways is any healthier than cooking meat in fat. Avoid the trans fats, of course, but you shouldn’t worry about saturated fats as long as you are livin’ la vida low-carb.

3. Read the label and avoid trans fats.

Excellent advice, Ms. McGrath. But I’ll take it a step further. While you are reading the label making sure you avoid trans fats, also read the ingredients list for anything “partially hydrogenated” to make sure they aren’t putting hidden trans fats in there and failing to list them in the nutritional info since it may contain less than 0.5g per serving (I blogged about this practice as it relates to carbs, too!). But that doesn’t mean it’s trans-fat-free! Sneaky, isn’t it?!

4. Stop smoking.

Well duh!

5. Increase your fiber by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans every day, such as Kashi Go Lean cereals and Quaker oatmeal.

Can you tell Ingles got some corporate sponsorship dollars by slipping in a product mention here and there? What’s sad is those products are just awful for you because they are very high-carb! Yes, I know they have whole grains in them, but does that make them healthy? McGrath seems to think so, but I don’t.

As for the generic advice to eat more fruits and vegetables as well as beans to get more fiber in your diet, I think it’s time we stop this across-the-board approval of everything. For fruit, you need to keep them low-glycemic, or low in sugar, such as berries and melons. As for veggies, non-starchy and green leafy vegetables are best like salad greens, cauliflower, and green beans, just to name a few. Beans are too high in carbs to be eaten when you are losing weight no matter what the health “experts” will tell you!

6. Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products (milk and yogurt).

Again, why would I do that? Your body needs fat and you should include this vital macronutrient in your diet, not exclude it. Of course, milk is fairly high in carbohydrates so try to go for lower-carb substitutes like Calorie Countdown (which Ingles just so happens to sell, by the way!).

Have you tried fat-free cheese and yogurt? Yucky poo! I think I’d rather eat something that rhymes with poo! EWWWW! It’s disgusting to consume, so why bother? How about eating the full-fat version as part of your new low-carb lifestyle and enjoy the foods that are making you healthier than you’ve ever been before!

7. Switch to canola or olive oil, such as Italica Olive Oil with Omega 3 or Harvest Farms Organic Canola cooking spray.

Nothing like the unabashed product endorsement, but I like the idea of eating more olive oil which is arguably one of the best ways to enjoy more fat in your diet (along with butter, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil).

8. Get regular exercise, at least 20 minutes every day.

No question, exercise complements your low-carb diet.

9. RELAX by praying, meditating, reading a book or exercising.

In other words, try to de-stress your life with whatever methods work for you. If you believe in God, then pray for the Prince of Peace to deliver you from your problems through regular quiet times using the Bible for inspiration.

But even if you are not a Christian, finding a book by your favorite author or taking a quick run around the block can do wonders for relieving the tension that builds up in your body from life itself. Enjoy your life and don’t just endure.

10. Lose weight. Sometimes just losing 10-20 pounds may help lower cholesterol.

To help “the heart,” just lose weight. I mean, these dietitians like Ms. McGrath act as if people are so oblivious to the obvious that it’s almost as if they look down on fat people. We already know livin’ la vida low-carb can help lower cholesterol primarily through the weight loss is produces.

The whole “it’s all about the heart” motto that Ingles through their dietitian Leah McGrath is trying to communicate to the public is that eating a low-fat diet (remember, translated as “high carb) is far superior to a high-fat diet (which is livin’ la vida low-carb). But now you know nothing could be further from the truth.

It seems to me that a grocery store should be about the business of providing food products and solid service to their customer base and not be taking such a strong position on what constitutes a healthy diet. People can find that information elsewhere and decide what’s best for them.

Personally, having the Ingles dietitian lecture me about what is good for “the heart” is quite insulting to say the least, although Leah McGrath seems nice enough in the Ingles commercials. Maybe she's willing to be convinced of the error of her ways.

You can leave your feedback for McGrath about her one-sided dietary advice by using this contact page.

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

In the "ask Leah"-page (where all the nonsense made me feel quite ill, actually) there is some information on their "healthy" breads. I quote:

"Currently we sell many items in the Bakery Department that have Zero trans Fats per serving [in other words: it DOES contain trans-fats!] or are made without partially hydrogenated oils. For example, all of our Organic Breads and Artisan breads have nutritional panels that list [sic!] zero trans Fats.

We are also in the process of updating many labels of bakery items to include the nutritional panels.

We are testing a donut shortening that is trans fat free.

However, there are some items that it [sic!] will be very difficult to replace the trans fats and result in a quality bakery product."

Oh, really? So, it is hard to produce a "quality" bakery item without resorting to trans-fats? Hogwash!

HOW ABOUT USING REAL BUTTER, fat-phobic idiots? And why use that bloody vegetable shortening at all? Use real butter! Tastes better, gives superior nutrition and is REALLY heart-healthy. And oh yes, get rid of that Leah-character... at least hire somebody with some basic experience in nutritional science and who can actually SPELL proper English...

3/31/2007 5:57 AM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

Coconut Oil would be another good alternative.

4/02/2007 11:48 AM  

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