It is the go-to place for good ingredients such as chia, quinoa and nuts, but the health food aisle is also where junk hides behind labels such as “organic” and “gluten-free”, and where “vegan” and “no artificial colours and flavours” can make you think products are cleaner than they really are.
Alongside genuinely healthy foods such as steel-cut oats, you will often find organic or gluten-free children’s cereals with as much sugar as Coco Pops – 30 per cent sugar or more. That is why dietitian Sue Radd from Sydney’s Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic suggests using the health food aisle to source ingredients such as rolled rye, rolled barley, rolled oats, cinnamon, currants and chia to create your own breakfast blends rather than buy manufactured cereals.
This way you get low-GI carbs, more antioxidants and you avoid acrylamide, a substance formed in foods produced with high-temperature processing methods such as those that produce puffed or extruded cereals,” she said. (Food Standards Australia New Zealand recommends reducing exposure to acrylamide, which can cause cancer in animals. Research into its impact on human health is ongoing.)
“I’m appalled at how parents are duped into believing certain breakfast cereals from health food shops and supermarket health sections are healthy when they still add so much sugar to an already high-GI starchy product. If you do buy ready-made breakfast cereal, I’d suggest looking for one with as little added sugar as possible – and not more than 15 grams sugar per 100 grams, and one with at least 3 grams fibre per serve and preferably 6 grams fibre per serve.”