You know that handful of wild, organic $10 blueberries you just ate? They were full of chemicals -- and that's okay!
As a new AsapScience video explains, all foods have chemicals in them. So when companies are calling their foods "chemical-free," it's pretty meaningless. So too is that ubiquotous maxim of health nuts everywhere: "If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it."
Chances are, you can't pronounce everything in a banana: glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, starch, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, histidine, leucine, lysine, arginine, valine, alanine, serine and glycine, to name a handful. And, paradoxically, the chemical list is sometimes shorter in unhealthy foods. A candy heart, for example, has a shorter list of chemicals than a banana does, according to the video.
While this might seem like semantics, it's an important concept to take into consideration with so many food companies using "natural" language to convince you their products are healthful.
As this video reminds us, sometimes you need a little food perspective. And it's worth taking blanket health claims with a grain of salt (or, y'know, NaCl).
In another example, did you know that pretty much all the food you eat is processed?
"The idea of saying, 'Just avoid processed foods' is crazy," registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner told The Huffington Post. "Yogurt is a processed food. It’s actually been cultured and packaged. Canned beans, with no other ingredient besides beans, is processed because [the beans] have been cooked and they have been canned."
Of course, there is a difference between "good" and "bad" processed foods. Yogurt, for example, is minimally processed, meaning it retains the good qualities of its source, such as calcium and protein. Foods like soda and and refined bread fall, by contrast, fall in the "highly processed" category, meaning they're been processed to the point where they're not longer recognizable as their original plant or animal source.
Which all goes to show you that there's no shortcut to consumer knowledge. Yep. There are tons of chemicals in your banana, and your can of beans is processed. You learn something new every day!