Everybody says processed food is bad. Isn’t Huel processed food? Can you explain why Huel would be an exception to the rule?
The processing in Huel is really minimal. For example, the oats are taken from the field, milled and that is it. The majority of food is processed in some way. Cleaning, drying, packaging are all processes. There is good processing and bad processing and Huel is certainly on the good side. See more, here: https://huel.com/pages/food-processing-good-nutrition
I’ve pondered this too. I’ve used Huel for a year and will continue for the foreseeable future. A couple of reasons come to mind
Huel is not really intended to replace all meals. It is most useful for meals on the go, where options are limited. And based on those options, Huel is often times the most nutritionally sound. Certainly better than fast food. Better than many options in the cafeteria at work. Better than more processed packaged food from a vending machine. I’m not saying it’s the “lesser of the evils” because Huel is not evil in any sense. It is a really good compromise for situations where a whole-food plant-based, fully catered/cooked meal is not possible.
Huel has many of the characteristics which make a whole-food plant-based meal so nutritious. Firstly, two of the main ingredients are just ground up from whole foods, the oats and flaxseed. (Besides, you kinda need flaxseed to be crushed up to get the nutrients to absorb anyway.) The added, isolated stuff like the two protein isolates and the sunflower oil, are purposely added to make the overall product a balanced product overall. The end result is a “complete food” that is not overly heavy in any particular macronutrient, and any added micronutrients are only there to get to the RDA. Just enough so that someone who eats it won’t be deficient.
But, Huel is not tilted too far in one direction. It’s not a low carb, high fat product. It’s not a massive protein supplement. It’s balanced.
Huel’s fiber is not a processed, add in fiber. It just comes from the oats and flaxseed. Most of the micronutrients are just from the food contents itself.
So even though Huel has some processing, it’s overall product is very similar to a whole-food plant-based meal. It naturally contains very little sugar, low saturated fat, no trans fat, and a good amount of natural fiber. That sounds like the hallmarks of a whole-food plant-based meal. When I chew up my quinoa + lentils and sweet potato with some salsa on top, and an apple (which was my lunch yesterday), it all gets mixed into my stomach to create a product with a balanced nutrition analogous to what you’d see in a Huel dose. i.e. Huel is formulated artificially, but retains much of the spirit of a whole-food meal. And as you can see, even then, my salsa was store bought and had some processing.
(I don’t work for Huel or make any financial benefits from saying this. I’m just tossing out my 2 cents.)
Not to resurrect a notorious recent post, but this right here, folks, is how an original poster can ask a legit question about the Huel product in a normal, respectful manner. The person had a concern about Huel, and raised a perfectly legit question. And it’s clear that he/she wanted a real answer and was interested in a real dialogue. It’s quite different than coming into the forums all huffed up and demanding that a Huel rep immediately engage him in a confrontational dialogue, in which the OP has already made up his mind anyway and is just here to troll.
“Food processing” is such a vague term that it is difficult for me to understand how people have such strong opinions on it. Bread is sold in Whole Foods stores, and is included in many whole food recipes, and yet it is a processed food. Bread does not occur naturally. It cannot be grown, nor raised on a farm. Some breads might be comprised entirely of natural ingredients, but at some point they still have to undergo a process before they become bread.
A common argument made against processed foods is that they lose their nutritional value. I don’t think that argument fits very well when it comes to Huel. Huel is a product specifically designed to contain as much of what our body needs as is logistically possible. All of the processing it undergoes is either to ensure that it retains as much of its nutritional value over time as possible, or to ensure that it it remains nutritionally complete without having to use animal products.
I think that the OP was referring to a processed food in which some components of the original whole food have been removed or purposely added. A grinded, blended product which contains the whole original foods is considered whole food and unprocessed, by many people. For example, many people consider Ezekiel bread a whole food in that all the ingredients are whole grains and no added oils.
Huel is not a straight up mix of whole oats, flaxseed, brown rice, peas, and sunflowers. Two of the ingredients are whole foods. 3 are not, and are only the protein or fat derived from the original food. In that sense, Huel has some processing. It’s composition is not the result of all the original foods blended together. There is some engineering of the macronutrients by using only part of a few of the foods.
Its true that the ingredients of Huel aren’t all thrown in a blender. From what I’ve read online, MCT oil is derived from coconut oil by boiling it until the MCT oil separates into its own layer, which is then extracted. The coconut oil itself is derived from raw coconut via another boiling process, which is often done using hexane as a solvent.
In my opinion its not more or less natural than the production of breads made with yeast, even Ezekiel bread. While bread may start off as a combination of all natural ingredients, you then add baker’s yeast, which is a strain of fungus known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast used to make modern bread has genetically diverged from its wild ancestor through centuries of controlled breeding to maximize its ability to make bread rise. This occurs while it goes through mixtures such as the aforementioned bread mixture and removes most of its sugar.
Both processes are far from natural, and yet one is considered pure and wholesome, while the other is feared and ridiculed by the internet. I say the internet, because I have never heard of a doctor telling people to avoid processed foods. In fact, I just Googled “doctor told me not to eat processed” and there were two results. One was someone with irritable bowl syndrome, and the other seems to have had a gluten sensitivity. Huel’s powder form is low FODMAP, and is available in a gluten free version, so these wouldn’t really apply to Huel, but rather the usual bagged chips and garbage kids get in their lunch bags these days.
I would not say that all processed food is bad. I don’t think you can really say that. Unprocessed food can be bad as well. People have had a lot of problems not getting enough calories when they decided to go on a raw foods diet. I think when people talk about processed food, they are mostly referring to things like she does and candy and things like that as well as the processed frozen meals at stores. But people don’t actually define it when they say anything about it. However, I would say that things like Chito’s in the frozen foods at stores are bad because they don’t have a nutritional benefit. They were made to taste good and get you addicted, but they are high in calories, they make your blood sugar go up and then go way down, and they don’t have nutrients. And these manufactures know what they are doing. They make these foods so that you will actually get addicted. They even add chemicals to the food that will make you addicted and they use science to hack your brain to get you addicted to things that will make money for them, but that are not very good for you. And even when you are eating savory foods from these companies, they still add a lot of sugar. I was actually reading a an article where they got some rats addicted to cocaine, and then they gave the rats a choice between cocaine and Oreos and the rats got addicted to the Oreos instead. Also, some people believe that the dies and colorings they use in these products aren’t very good. For example, you have to know that she does are actually orange for real. But that doesn’t mean that all processed food is bad. Food has been processed in someway or another for a really long time such as making cheese, salting, pickling, curing, cooking, making bread, making flour, only using certain parts of foods, and so forth. Like I said, other people have had your idea. They decided that processed food was bad, so they were going to go on a completely raw food diet. That is a diet where everything you eat is uncooked. No cooking is allowed at all. But the problem is that we evolved to eat cooked food and you actually can’t absorb as many of the calories from raw food. We can’t even eat enough raw sued to get our calories in it, which is why we cooked food to begin with. But apparently, the people who do this did not know that. They were also convinced that enzymes in the food would help their digestion, when really, those enzymes were there to help the plants and would dissolve in their stomach acid without doing anything for them at all. But really bad things would happen like women would no longer be able to have their cycle. Also, herbs that are unprocessed and that, completely from nature can also be unsafe. You can also have things like arsenic and poisonous mushrooms that are completely unprocessed, but they aren’t good. So I would say that the people who are making me statements don’t actually know a lot about science and they don’t know a lot about the food that they eat. They just spout off something that sounds good without really thinking about it. If you asked one of these people what unprocessed even means to them, they probably wouldn’t even know. Also, it has been proven that in many cases, frozen fruits and vegetables can actually retain more nutrients because they are picked and then flash frozen right away, where is the fresher ones can actually degrade and lose between 20 and 30% of their nutrients while they are being transported to the grocery store, but if you freeze it, you technically are processing it in some way. Also, freeze drying and dehydration have been shown to preserve the nutrients in food very well while preserving the shelf life. With canning, you will get some mild nutrient losses because of the heat in the canning process, but compared with the nutrients that fresh food can lose during transport, even canning preserves nutrients very well. And even though you would get some mild nutrient loss, A lot of nutrition is still there. For example, if you are canning some peaches, you might lose 10% of the vitamin C, but most of the vitamin C is still there. And it means that when peaches are in season, you can still have them and get the nutrients from them. Maybe you would call applesauce processed, but as long as it doesn’t have added sugar, it basically has the same nutrition as an apple.
I think you are all on the right lines here. Defining a food as unhealthy simply because it has gone through more processing than another food is unhelpful. There’s more to the healthfulness of a food and diet in general.
We have an article on how Huel Powder is produced which Christian has linked to. If you have any particular questions about the ingredients or processes @HuelForLife send them our way.