Health Food: Facts and Fiction

Learn about health food facts and fiction in this article of excerpts from Haralad Jay Taub's book The Health Food Shopper's Guide.

| September/October 1982

  • Health food facts honey
    People who avoid sugar for the sake of their health are only kidding themselves if they think that honey is any better for them.

  • Health food facts honey

In the hyped-up world of nutritional aids, how do you tell the (whole) wheat from the chaff? Harald Jay Taub explains the differences between health food facts and fiction. 


Like most folks, MOTHER's staffers are often confused by the bewildering array of nutritional supplements . . . each with its own salutary claims expressed in technical-sounding terms. So we were delighted when we recently examined a preview copy of Harald Jay Taub's The Health Food Shopper's Guide . . . and found the book to be a no-nonsense, consumer-oriented assessment of practically every vitamin, mineral and special food supplement marketed today. Mr. Taub—who's served as chief editor at both Prevention and Let's Live magazines and is currently editing the newsletter of the Institute of Nutritional Research in Woodland Hills, California—has spent decades studying and writing about the health products field. When contacted, he told us that his new book contains "my own best considered honest opinions" (and quickly added, "and I have nothing to sell'') . . . but also readily admitted, "I'm probably wrong in some respects. After all, nobody has perfect knowledge of nutrition." The honesty and balance evidenced by those remarks seem to run consistently through Harald Taub's candidly worded book too, and this leads us to believe that The Health Food Shopper's Guide could be a valuable resource for almost anyone who's interested in assessing those scores of self-proclaimed nutritional aids available today. So to let you see some of this health foods handbook for yourself, we've decided to share the following ten short excerpts. 


Honey is certainly a completely natural food. Does that mean it is good for you? Certainly not. Gathered from flowers as nectar and processed by bees into the thick and viscous liquid that we know, honey is even sweeter and higher in calories than table sugar, spoonful for spoonful. That is possible because [much of] the sugar in honey is fructose. To a limited extent, it does not require insulin to be metabolized and therefore may be of interest to a diabetic. But some people feel that fructose causes atherosclerosis, and it certainly causes tooth decay even faster than table sugar.

People who avoid sugar for the sake of their health are only kidding themselves if they think that honey is any better for them. Honey does contain some minerals, but since it is cloyingly sweet and you cannot eat much of it, the mineral content is of no nutritional importance. Contrary to the belief of many, the minerals do not in any way improve your ability to metabolize the sugar content. Much has also been made of the antiseptic properties of honey, but this is simply a property of its sugar content. All sugar kills germs, which is why sugar is a good preservative.

If you like its flavor, you can certainly eat some honey without its doing you any appreciable harm, and you can enjoy it. But it offers you no health advantage whatsoever.


For thousands of years garlic has occupied a special place in folk medicine and in witchcraft. It has been used as a sovereign remedy for dozens of diseases, on most of which it has no effect. However, in some respects it has strong health value. It contains a chemical element named allicin that has valuable antibiotic properties, of particular use in the digestive tract. Long known as a prime treatment for dysentery, it was used by the German armies during World War I for this purpose, with conspicuous success. (During later wars it was no longer possible to get soldiers to eat garlic every day.) Many people who travel to foreign countries and want to protect themselves against dysentery have succeeded in doing so by eating a clove or two of garlic every day. Garlic is also known to have a benign effect on the blood pressure, and in countries where it is a regular part of the diet, such as Spain and Italy, there is very little high blood pressure, compared to northern Europe and the United States.


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