Not so smooth

Not so smooth.
Photo: iStockphoto

Industrial food is really vile stuff — even when it’s been tarted up by marketers to sound “healthy,” “natural,” and “fresh.”

This is an obvious point, but it bears revisiting in a culture predicated on quick fixes. Is industrial food killing you? Don’t stop eating it — try these “new and improved” versions of old favorites!

Men’s Health magazine writers David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding slayed this hoary dragon yet again by dragging a bunch of fast-food delicacies back to their place of origin: the laboratory. Here is some of what they found.

Thinking you might “go healthy” by choosing a smoothie over a donut at your next trip to Dunkin’ Donuts? Think again:

[E]ach of its medium-size fruit-and-yogurt smoothies packs at least 60 grams of sugar — more than four times the sugar in a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut. The fruit purees used in the smoothies are mixed with liberal doses of sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup.

Some people might be tempted to go “low fat” at Applebee’s, rather than skipping it altogether. That would be a mistake.

That many of its “low-fat” items have more than 500 calories. (In fact, its low-fat chicken quesadillas have 742 calories and 90 grams of carbohydrates per order.)

Panera Bread presents itself as a wholesome, “artesanal” alternative to industrial food. That’s a load of synthetic goop.

[T]he synthetic food colorings in its pastries have been linked to irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance in children. And British researchers found that artificial food colorings and preservatives in the diets of 3-year-olds caused an increase in hyperactive behavior. (The same ingredients appear in fast-food items such as mayonnaise, M&M Blizzards, and McDonald’s shakes.)

And don’t be bamboozled into thinking that “sit-down” food chains like Olive Garden are any better. They may be worse.

[T]heir food is actually considerably worse for you than the often-maligned fast-food fare. In fact, our menu analysis of 24 national chains revealed that the average entree at a sit-down restaurant contains 867 calories, compared with 522 calories in the average fast-food entree. And that’s before appetizers, sides, or desserts — selections that can easily double your total calorie intake.

I may quibble with some of the assumptions here. Calories are a questionable proxy for deciding what’s “worse for you.” But clearly, the chains under investigation here are serving up mountains of empty calories — often in the guise of “healthy options” or some such nonsense.