Beneficial or Gimmick?
Eating a balanced diet helps keep your body functioning optimally and prevents nutritional diseases. Still, a lot of people experience nutritional deficiencies in their diet. To counter this problem, the food industry adopted fortification of common food products with extra nutrients. However, there are concerns that fortified foods are not the solution to nutritional deficiencies and may actually do more harm than good. Let us examine some fortified food pros and cons to understand these concerns better.
The Case for Fortification
Perhaps the strongest argument in the fortified food pros and cons debate is the eradication of diseases such as pellagra, rickets, goiter and beriberi due to filling nutritional deficiencies.
The Dangers of Fortified Foods
Vitamin overdoses have been linked to diseases such as colon-rectal cancer. Others, such as vitamin A pose a risk for birth defects when consumed in excess during pregnancy.
Most products that are fortified prominently advertise the fact. This may cause you to overlook their overall nutritional value or lack thereof. You also can't authenticate the claims companies make on the labels, meaning the amount of nutrients per serving may be misleading
A new study shows that when a snack food had claims that is was a good source of a specific vitamin people were less likely to check the Nutritional Fact label and were more likely to choose that product over a similar product not claiming the added nutritional benefits.
People in the study also felt that the product was healthier than the similar product that didn’t have the claim on the package, even though the products were virtually the same.
From the fortified food pros and cons, it is clear that they can help fill the gaps in our diet and prevent deficiencies. However, fortified foods should not be used as a substitute to whole foods from natural plant and animal sources. Care should also be taken not to consume more than the recommended daily values of a nutrient for your demographic. Also, always compare the nutritional label no matter what claims are made on the packaging of the product.
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