Health Food Truths

La pasta con “bajo contenido en hidratos de carbono” forma parte de una categoría de alimentos naturales conocidos en el ramo como “males menores”: alimentos con menor cantidad de calorías no deseadas, grasa, grasas artificiales, azúcares, sal o hidratos de carbono. Ahora existe toda una industria de esa clase de productos, además de alimentos clasificados como “naturales”, “orgánicos” y “funcionales”. Pero, ¿de verdad son mejores esos alimentos para nuestra salud?

En los Estados Unidos, “orgánico” tiene un significado preciso establecido por el Departamento de Agricultura de ese país. Sin embargo, “natural” significa lo que quiera que el productor o elaborador de alimentos diga que significa. Los llamados alimentos “funcionales” –o “tecnoalimentos” – son aquellos a los que los fabricantes añaden aceites omega-3, edulcorantes artificiales, almidones indigeribles, reductores del colesterol, proteínas de soja o de leche (suero), substancias fitoquímicas y otros ingredientes para que puedan anunciar sus propiedades “saludables” conforme a los requisitos de la Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos (FDA) de los E.UU.

Las ventas de alimentos funcionales y de “males menores” han ido muy bien en los últimos años, pues en 2004 ascendieron a unos 85.000 millones de dólares en los Estados Unidos. Quienes compran habitualmente esa clase de alimentos son los consumidores de las llamadas “formas de vida saludables y sostenibles”: la preciada base demográfica de la industria de los alimentos naturales. Son los que compran productos con bajo contenido en hidratos de carbono, tabletas nutritivas y energéticas, alimentos y bebidas enriquecidos con vitaminas y minerales, alimentos a base de soja y prácticamente cualquier cosa que se anuncie como “saludable”.

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