Not too long ago, I was out on a walk and had a commercial pop up through my music streamer about these great all-natural hotdogs. This commercial went on to list some very scary sounding ingredients that are in other hotdogs, but not ours! What stood out to me about all these was that, among some other moderately harmless things (that I have to admit I don’t remember), they snuck one thing in there: ascorbic acid.
Okay, yes, “acid” sounds bad, and who knows what “ascorbic” means… but if you look at what it is, it is LITERALLY Vitamin C. It’s that nifty little compound that sailors used to be so deficient in, we had to name the condition. It’s the thing that so many companies tout as helping stop the common cold (which it does NOT, turns out). Now, ascorbic acid is only one form of vitamin C, but it’s a naturally occurring compound nonetheless, and very important to our health!
So, after being thouroughly annoyed by this (and letting the company at fault kindly know about it), I went on with my day. Not a few weeks later, I start seeing this cutesy little commercial for milk.
Scene: Children’s spelling bee.
The word is: Lecithin
*GASP* The child cannot spell the word lecithin, confusing the ‘c’ for an ‘s’. The next kid comes up, and gets the word ‘milk’ and (of course since they’re not toddlers) he can spell that one!
Now, I don’t know who decided that our basis for if something is good for us or not is whether ten year olds can spell it, but apparently that’s what’s happening?
Let’s take a look at lecithin. As a very broad generalization, it’s an emulsifier, meaning that it brings things that love water and things that love fats together. It’s commonly used in things like chocolate milk (haven’t you wondered how the chocolate magically stays in the milk??) and cooking sprays, and also have some industrial and medical uses too. It’s been shown to be a possible treatment for high cholesterol, and tests are ongoing in the study of its effect on dementia and Alzheimer’s.
And if we’re being real, this stuff is everywhere. Look at any prepared food product and you’ll likely see a form of it in there – it’s naturally found in soy (and egg yolks!), so the most common ingredient form is ‘soy lecithin’. It’s considered GRAS for pretty much everyone, unless you have a soy allergy. There’s obviously some controversy attached because it is soy, but that’s a conversation for a different day. For now, don’t be afraid of milk or chocolate milk. Both are delicious and should be enjoyed in moderation.
So, all this to say: if you hear a company trying to vilify an ingredient in order to sell you a product, please do some research and find out if it’s actually warranted. I would even say to take it a step further and reach out when you find this! I feel that companies shouldn’t be able to basically lie to you about something in order to sell their product, even if what they’re selling actually is better. Social media has definitely made this more possible, because now others can see it and stand with you. It’s my take on “See something, say something”.