Dr Suzie Edge on 21st century nutrition and health

Beanz means more than they care to tell you about…

Beanz means more than they care to tell you about…

I adore baked beans, I always have done. Whenever I went home from University my Mum would make a special  effort to stock up on lots of tins just for me. It wasn’t just Heinz that I liked, any variety would do. I love them when they’ve been cooked for far too long, like you get in the school canteen, in a catering batch made for hundreds. You get the point? I like baked beans.

I used to eat them with white bread and whatever spread was on the go. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I don’t eat beans anymore, considering what else is in the tin.

The recent television advert for Heinz Beans left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. The advert features a fitness enthusiast who is home from a run and reaches for the protein shake (OK, that’s for a different blog post) and he says that he’s looking for something with protein, fibre and low in fat. His partner smugly pulls a bowl of baked beans from the microwave and says she’d doing the same thing, but with beans.

Yes, beans have protein and not much fat. Beans also have a ridiculous amount of sugar and they conveniently didn’t mention that bit.

It is NOT OK to pretend that because a product has something that may be healthy in it, that we can simply ignore the rest of the contents. There are just under 20g of sugar per can.

Nutella is another classic example. You may have seen the advert that says how it’s great for growing bones because it has a smidgen of milk, or that it has a lick of cocoa powder and hazelnuts, oh so healthy huh? This advert completely ignores the fact that this product is mostly made of sugar and palm oil.

Foods claiming to be new healthy substitutes are doing it also. On a break at work recently I was offered a protein bar by a well meaning colleague. It had protein, so it must be good for you, especially if you avoid carbohydrates as I do. Looking at the label I was horrified to see how much sugar there was lurking in that bar. If you’re eating protein bars for the protein, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’d be better off with a steak. If you’re a vegetarian, there will still be better ways, but not necessarily with baked beans or protein bars. If an advert gets exited about containing or not containing a particular macro-nutrient, the likelihood is it has forgotten to tell you about the others, and there is a reason for that. Take a look for yourself before believing that marketing.


I didn’t see this before I wrote the blog: complaints were upheld about this advert claiming that the beans contain the same nutrients as something else, which apparently is not allowed. Who knew?  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44951720

Main picture from The Grocer

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