This post was originally published on GMO Answers' Medium page.
It’s that time of year when millions of people will resolve to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle in 2018. If you’re one of the many who resolved to improve your diet this year, let me give you some friendly advice – don’t focus on cutting GMOs out of your diet.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the cabbage soup diet or the werewolf diet? These diets sound ridiculous, right? Well, choosing a non-GMO diet simply for health reasons might be just as ridiculous. There are only 10 foods on the market today that are actually genetically engineered. Those foods or crops include cotton, canola, corn, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa, papaya, squash, apples and potatoes. If this surprises you, keep reading because the reality is that many products with a non-GMO label do not have a GMO counterpart. For example, Hunt’s tomatoes are labeled non-GMO, but there are no genetically engineered tomato products on the market today. The popular non-GMO label is paired with a beautiful butterfly, which makes it look like a symbol of health and wellness. The truth is that the butterfly is a marketing ploy designed to scare you into purchasing a product that offers no increased health benefit.
Instead, I encourage you to focus on what matters most when it comes to your health and personal nutrition. Here are a few strategies to get you started:
1.Read the ingredients.
The first ingredient listed is always the most abundant in the product. So, if that product lists organic sugar as the first ingredient, this does not mean it will be significantly heathier for you. Organic sugar still has calories and doesn’t offer any health benefits compared to sugar made by genetic engineering. It’s also important to remember that genetic engineering is used to produce certain foods and is not an ingredient.
2.Consider your portion size and cooking method.
It doesn’t matter if you’re eating a potato that was genetically engineered or one that was produced with traditional breeding methods – if that potato has been fried and drowned in salt, it will still contain a high amount of fat and sodium because of the cooking method. However, a small baked potato packs a punch of potassium and fiber.
3.Balance your plate.
Did you know that you should make half your plate fruits and vegetables? The good news is that genetically engineered foods still contain the same amount of nutrition as their non-GMO counterparts. For example, the Arctic® apple still contains the same amount of fiber and calories compared to its non-GMO counterpart. The same is true for genetically engineered zucchini squash and papaya. These fruits and vegetables produced with genetic engineering can help bring balance to any plate.
4.Know your numbers.
When is the last time you had your blood pressure or cholesterol checked? These are actual risk factors that could impact your health.
So, instead of jumping on the latest fad diet or resolving to give up GMOs in 2018, focus on what matters most about your health. We should let science be our guide and not fear-based marketing.