Food Is Not Your Enemy

Chocolate Cake “Better Than an Apple”? Health Claims Bordering on Unethical
April 7, 2010, 10:04 am
Filed under: food politics, Fruits, Sweets | Tags: , , ,

Ever heard of VitaTops? They’re muffin tops, sold in the freezer case. But the company that makes them, Vitalicious, doesn’t want you to think of them as dessert. No, these muffins are fortified with lots of vitamins and fiber, and so these cakes are pushed as a health food.

While it’s definitely a positive that one of the main ingredients in VitaTops is whole wheat flour, Vitalicious really takes things a step too far when it prints on the VitaTops box the following claim:

VitaMuffin: better than an apple

The VitaMuffin contains less sugar and more vitamins and minerals than an apple!

Really, Vitalicious? You’re claiming in all seriousness that your cakes are better for you than fresh fruit?

Yes, the VitaTops have vitamins and minerals. But vitamins and minerals can be added to anything, including lollipops and taffy. Would it be right, or ethical, to say that fortified candy is better for you than an apple?

Regarding the sugar claim: you cannot compare naturally occurring sugar in fruit to white sugar added to a food product (and “organic evaporated cane juice” is still added sugar). Our bodies are not adversely affected by the sugar in fresh fruit, but white sugar and its fancier-named derivatives send our blood sugar sky high and then set us up for a crash soon after. Not only does this cycle end up stoking our appetites, it also lays the foundation for type 2 diabetes should we consume sugar too often (and most Americans do consume too much sugar, every single day).

VitaTops are actually a fine choice–for dessert. But don’t let Vitalicious–or any food company–ever fool you into thinking that a sweet, processed food is better for you than a whole food like an apple. The vitamins, minerals, and fiber naturally found in apples are much more easily utilized by our bodies, and apples have been shown to have detoxifying and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. An apple a day really does help keep the doctor away. A VitaTop? Not so much.


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