Stanford nutrition scientist Christopher Gardner, PhD, was featured this week in a Q&A with the Palo Alto Daily News. In the piece, Gardner talks about how educating the public on how food is produced can motivate people to change their eating habits, provides tips for evaluating the nutritional news and explains why you should avoid processed foods fortified with supplements. On the topic of dietary fads, such as nutrient-enriched foods, he says:
If it's something that in no way the human population could have evolved on - such as a new Omega-3-enriched Cheese Whiz - then I wish they would ignore those. It can't be that all of a sudden there is a new scientific way to put nutrients into old junk foods and suddenly make them health foods. The super foods are items like broccoli, red bell peppers, and beans -- not very sexy to write about, but good, solid, healthy foods.
Also consider how food is when it (first) comes out of the ground or how it is raised -- such as broccoli or grass-fed beef. If somebody has made it super-diced, spliced, deep-fried, sweetened, added layers of cellophane, (or made it into a) great new snack food, but it's not broccoli or a rib-eye steak anymore, and it's an enormous portion, I wish they would ignore those sort of wild claims [that the food is good for you].
Next month, Gardner, along with other researchers and local food activists, will gather at Stanford for Food Summit 2. The one-day symposium will feature panels showcasing recent research projects aimed at improving eating among three distinct populations: at-risk middle school students, Stanford undergraduates and hospital patients. Registration for the event is free and can be completed here.