From ‘bad food’ to ‘natural food success’: what’s next?

First it happened for eggs, then for nuts of all kinds, then for dark chocolate, then for wine, then for coffee, then full-fat dairy, now for red meat. It’s the discovery that these natural foods – some of them demonised by health advisors for 30 years or more – not only do no harm but they make a positive contribution to health, says Julian Mellentin of New Nutrition Business.

One of the most harmful aspects of the dietary advice that consumers have been given since the 1970s was that certain foods were identified as “bad foods”.

This was usually justified by their content of a particular “bad nutrient” – with fat topping the list of bad guys. And it’s worth recalling that while the focus now is on saturated fat as a “bad nutrient”, from the 1970s to the late 1980s all foods containing fats of any kind were classified as “bad”.

That meant that people reined back on consuming nuts (for example), which we now recognise as a source of “good fats”, not to mention protein and fibre.

And let us never forget that as recently as the early 1990s dietitians were still telling heart attack survivors to cut out foods like nuts from their diets.

But by the late 1990s the steady advance of nutrition science was uncovering a wealth of health benefits from nuts and they were being quietly rehabilitated. By 2003 the US FDA felt confident to allow a heart health claim for almonds, peanuts and walnuts.

Nuts have never looked back. Sales of almonds have grown by hundreds of percent over the last 15 years. Planters peanuts have become one of the world’s biggest snack brands, with over $1 billion in sales and healthy 7% per annum growth.

Similar surges have happened for dark chocolate, eggs and for butter as their demonisation has been shown to have been based on an idea, not on science.

The good news for people who want natural foods and who rank pleasure from food as important as health benefits is that the advance of nutrition science is continuing to uncover a wealth of intrinsic health benefits from everyday foodstuffs.

Soon we will see the rehabilitation of another natural food that has been demonised by health professionals relying on weak science and dogmas. The rehabilitation is based – as with the other foods – on science that demonstrates positive benefits. And we will talk about the next big turnaround on this blog in June.

See Julian Mellentin’s blog here

Source: New Nutrition Business: