The Washington Post’s Health Magazine took a good look at something called the “glycemic index” yesterday. The World Health Organization has made recent news by insisting that a food’s glycemic index, which corresponds to its overall sugar content, is a good indicator of its healthfulness. This implies that higher-numbered foods can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes; countless “sugar-buster” diet fads urge people to eat only low-sugar foods.
Life is never this simple. According to the book The Glucose Revolution, a baked potato has a higher glycemic index than a serving of jelly beans. Likewise, carrots far outpace Frosted Flakes in sugar content. Is the cottage industry of “obesity epidemic” alarmists preparing to tell the American public to stop eating potatoes and carrots? Worse yet, are we prepared to embrace the radical notion that there is such a thing as “good foods” and “bad foods?”
We’d all be better off recognizing that jelly beans, carrots, or any food, for that matter, can be both good for you and bad for you. As the Post suggests, it’s better to “choose foods according to their overall profile, considering vitamins and minerals as well as saturated fat, fiber and so on.” Our advice: try everything in moderation, and let the food scare-mongers worry about which foods to anoint on their own tables.