From Dr. Mercola:
If you were to believe the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pop-Tarts and Frosted Flakes are healthier than nuts and avocados. This incomprehensible stance stems from the agency’s definition of the word “healthy.”
According to FDA rules, food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets certain nutritional criteria for fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Snack foods cannot contain more than 3 grams of total fat per serving in order to qualify as healthy, and only 1 gram of that can be saturated fat This position is reprehensibly negligent in light of all the new evidence supporting the benefits of saturated fat.
As a result of this outdated — not to mention wrong — criteria, high-sugar, low-fat snacks like Pop-Tarts end up on the “healthy” snack list, while high-fat, low-sugar ones like Kind fruit and nut bars fail to qualify.
FDA to Reassess Definition of Healthy
Last year, Kind LLC received an FDA warning letter ordering the company to cease using the term “healthy” on its snack packaging because their nut bars contain too much saturated fat. As noted by the Organic Consumers Association:1
“When the term ‘healthy’ was first officially defined in 1994, low fat content was the main focus of health professionals. Sugar wasn’t on the FDA’s, or most nutritionists,’ radar.
Kellogg Co. doesn’t generally market its Frosted Flakes or low-fat Pop-Tarts as “healthy,” but under the current guidelines, it could. While the foods are high in sugar, they meet all the criteria, from low fat to fortified with vitamins.
And fat-free pudding cups can be marketed as healthy, but avocados couldn’t because they have too much fat, according to today’s rules.”
Striking Discrepancies Between FDA Rules and Dietary Guidelines
To prevent ill health, both the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend limiting daily added sugar intake to 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women. The limits for children range from 3 to 6 teaspoons (12-25 grams) per day, depending on age.
The problem is, low-fat foods are typically chockfull of sugars, and the FDA’s criteria for “healthy” doesn’t even take sugar content into account at all.
As noted by The Wall Street Journal,2 there are even striking discrepancies between the latest U.S. dietary guidelines, issued earlier this year, and the FDA’s criteria for healthy foods.
Not only do the guidelines recommend limiting sugar intake to 10 percent of total daily calories, they also recommend increasing consumption of salmon and nuts, “yet neither food meets the FDA’s criteria for ‘healthy.’”
Following a petition by Kind LLC, and at the urging of both food manufacturers and lawmakers, the FDA has announced it will reevaluate the definition of the word healthy. It will also seek to define the word “natural,” and reevaluate regulations for nutrient content claims in general.3,4,5,6,7
“We very much hope the FDA will change the definition of healthy, so that you don’t