Walkers Crisps in collaboration with Ruby Wax and Comic Relief have launched a campaign to improve our mental health by talking more honestly to each other and to stop using the word fine when asked how we are. Apparently 70% of people in Britain pretend to be fine to avoid sounding negative and appearing impolite.
As a human being I wholeheartedly think encouraging us Brits, with our stiff upper lip attitude, to talk more openly is a great step forward.
But as a nutrition consultant, I must take issue with Walkers being involved.
The reason being that they sell products that are negatively impacting the nations mental health.
Without exception, all their crisp products use polyunsaturated sunflower seed oil in the manufacturing process. Pre 2006 their products were actually better for us. But with the worldwide (mythical) fear of saturated fat they moved from using palm oil to using ‘sunseed’ oil, which is sunflower oil to you and me.
With this move they increased the linoleic acid content from 10% to a whopping 68%.
Oxidised linoleic acid metabolites (OXLAMS) damage every tissue in the human body and when heated, these oils cause the formation of toxic aldehydes.
The linoleic acid produced by this oil imbeds itself in our brains and impairs cognitive behaviour. It disrupts our endocrine system and impedes the hormones serotonin and dopamine, our feel-good responses. They actively cause anxiety and depression, by eating them we will definitely not be fine.
Up to the age of about forty I must have ingested gallons of the stuff as I am a former crispaholic! As I have lived the last 10 years trying to avoid seed/vegetable oils, I am hoping that my body has renewed and rebuilt itself for the better. That’s certainly the aim anyway.
These days I eat in the Wide Way which is a low carbohydrate diet and of course, doesn’t include high starch foods such as potatoes and corn, the principal ingredients in Walkers crisps. These days, when I fancy a crisp I am far more discerning. I occasionally treat myself to a bag of Torres 100% extra virgin olive oil crisps. Olive oil has a higher cooking point and also a low linoleic acid content making them a much healthier option. But they are definitely not low carb and at £4 per bag are pretty expensive!
Until Walkers make an olive oil crisp product or revert back to sustainable palm oil, I think that they should stay away from this type of hypocrisy.