When you walk into a health food store and look around, what do you see? One wall of shelves is packed with vitamins and mineral products, all expensive and all unnecessary for people on a reasonable diet. Another section displays jars of seaweed extracts, sea salt, vegetable salts, lecithin granules and so on, all of which have dubious value. Seaweed undoubtedly contains minerals that may be light on in some people's diet, but sea salt, apart from the fact it contains iodine, an essential trace mineral missing from the soil in a few areas of the world, is still plain sodium chloride, which is common salt--a dangerous product. Vegetable salt is a flavoring powder made from vegetable extracts but has little flavor of its own and so when you read the label on the jar it usually reveals the fact that ordinary salt or sea salt forms part of the mixture.

Then you see nuts of all kinds, dried lentils, soya beans--bins full of them--foods which contain high levels of fat and protein and are stressful to the digestive system. Shelves are stacked with bottles of polyunsaturated vegetable oils--100 per cent fat--which although containing no cholesterol as do animal fats, nevertheless cause red cell and platelet aggregation in the blood and are associated with increased risk of cancer.

Cookies, biscuits and energy bars, some of which are high in fat and sugar and none of which are as healthful as a good banana. Bins of brown rice and other grains--fair enough foods if eaten sparingly--and bins of dried fruits. Dried fruits, if they are sun dried and unsulphered, are good foods but they are very concentrated and better eaten sparingly as snacks when fresh fruit is not available.

One food item which could be considered as a health-promoting food is garlic, not because it provides valuable nutrients the body needs, but because of its therapeutic medicinal property in a body handicapped by a high-fat diet. Garlic, onions and other herbal extracts such as vitamin E have the effect of unsticking the blood to permit improved circulation. Used for this purpose these products are more medicines than foods, but at least garlic tastes good.

The contents of health food stores can be considered health giving only to the extent they are less harmful than meat, chicken and dairy products. The only foods that qualify to be called health foods, using the true meaning of the word 'health', are fresh fruits and vegetables; you can maintain good health indefinitely on these but the same cannot be said for the general run of foods available in health food stores.