I haven’t been shopping at FoodBabe.com in a while, and I must admit I miss the experience. It’s true that I’ve been surprised once or twice (or maybe three or four or five times), but who’s counting? Vani Hari is a world class researcher who thoroughly investigates (and personally uses) each and every product she sells. It’s exactly her kind of dedication we need to keep our food supply secure (and the world safe for democracy). Why not show her some love via her affiliate shopping links?
As I head over to Vani’s web site to go shopping, I’m reminded of a poignant warning The Babe once penned on the subject of chewing gum:1
“And what’s up with the warning at the bottom of some of the ingredient lists for “Contains: Phenylalanine”? Does the average person even know what this means? Phenylalanine is added to the ingredient Aspartame and could seriously be dangerous if you have certain health conditions. Consuming this substance (if you have a condition that makes you sensitive to this additive) can cause mental retardation, brain seizures, sleep disorders and anxiety.”–Food Babe on Phenylalanine (emphasis mine)
Yikes! Brain seizures and mental retardation from phenylalanine, an essential amino acid? Well, if you suffer from the rare disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU), it could indeed be a problem.
To further compound the fear, Vani warns us that products containing phenylalanine could be genetically engineered:4
“If a non-organic packaged good has one of these ingredients listed below it could be GMO or genetically engineered. Look for Non-GMO Project certified products and ingredients that are listed as 100% organic on labels to avoid all GMOs in your diet.
[…]”–Food Babe, GMO Ingredients A-Z
So let’s take Vani’s expert advice to heart and stay the hell away from any products containing phenylalanine.
Got it? Good! Let’s go shopping at FoodBabe.com, where Vani has personally checked the safety of every product for us. I’m in the mood for some ancient superfoods today. How about you? Hey, these chia seeds look good:2
Ooh! Packed with fiber and revered by the Aztecs and Mayans! Gotta have it!
Tut tut tut… before we bang away on that “Buy Now” button, we need to pull out our official Food Babe Investigator Magnifying GlassesTM and take a look at the nutritional content of these seeds. Let’s head over to the USDA for a full breakdown. Regular readers of this blog, and those of you who got the obvious foreshadowing, will have rightly guessed we’re headed straight for the section on amino acids:3
Holy biomolecular precursors, Batman! Chia seeds contain phenylalanine!
But wait. Vani specifically warned us about phenylalanine, and yet there’s 1016mg per 100g in the chia seeds she’s selling. She makes it clear in her book, The Food Babe Way, that there’s just no safe level of chemical to ingest–ever. What are we to make of this?
Given that Food Babe clearly didn’t understand that this amino acid isn’t “added” to aspartame as she claims, and given that most of the products she sells contain the same ingredients she says are dangerous, I’d say it’s safe to conclude she doesn’t know [expletive deleted] about nutrition. That’s what I make of it all.
The good news is that unless you suffer from the rare disorder PKU, you aren’t going to be harmed by the phenylalanine, no matter if it comes from the products sold by Food Babe, or the ones she’s telling you to boycott. So feel free to buy plenty of Nutiva Chia Seeds.
Just don’t buy from FoodBabe.com
[Edited 19 Aug 2015: Added Food Babe’s warning that products containing phenylalanine could be genetically modified]
(1) Why Chewing Gum Destroys Your Health
(2) Food Babe Shop: For Your Belly
(3) USDA Statistics Report: #12006, Seeds, chia seeds, dried
(4) GMO Ingredients A-Z
Nutiva, USDA, and Food Babe screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.