There are many foods that people typically view as “healthy” that are far from it.
There’s so much misinformation out there, particularly about whole wheat products, low calorie products, and low fat products.
Here are just some of the many grocery store items that are often perceived as healthy but are anything but:
Triscuits sound healthy right? Let’s examine the ingredients:
Whole Grain Wheat: if you’ve read anything from me you know my opinion on wheat, but that’s not the point of this article so let’s move on to the rest of the processed crap:
Vegetable Oil (Soybean or Canola): Vegetable oils are high in omega 6 inflammatory oils, are typically genetically modified, and usually laden in pesticides. Petroleum is often used to extract the oil, yum. As for soy, the highly processed form found in soybean oil is hazardous to health. It is full of phytoestrogens which serve as estrogen mimickers in the body. Excess estrogen levels increase your risk of cancer, PCOS, and other hormone-related disorders. Approximately 90% of soy is genetically modified. In addition, its high levels of phytic acid make it difficult for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals.
Maltodextrin (and dextrose): A highly processed thickener, filler or preservative which is often derived from corn (genetically modified) and is high on the glycemic index. In studies it is associated with autoimmune disease and an inappropriate immune response to bacteria (leading to diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease). A few studies looking at those effects:
Hydrolyzed Corn, Wheat & Yeast Protein: Hydrolyzed is ultra processed by definition. This creates free glutamic acid, AKA MSG. MSG is an excitotoxin that many believe plays a role in the development of neurodegenerative disease.
Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate: A flavor enhancer. Is it bad for you? Maybe, maybe not. It’s generally associated with MSG and was certainly made in a lab somewhere. It’s certainly not food.
Natural Flavors: This can literally be anything as there is no regulation on the use of the term.
Granted, the plain versions of Triscuits are much cleaner. So if you’re gonna eat it, don’t buy a flavored variety.
2. Yoplait Yogurt
Don’t you love the Yoplait yogurt commercials where women are trying to get into their itty bitty teeny weeny pocka dot bikini’s and eat yogurt all day? Sure, if that’s all they eat all day they may lose weight, but at what expense?
Low fat milk: That’s a debate for another day. Fat is healthy, great for your brain cells, yada yada. The milk in this yogurt comes from cows who don’t have 2 inches to spare and shoved full of antibiotics. Same goes for all commercial diary.
Sugar: Sure, sugar in moderation is fine. 30 grams of sugar in a “healthy” yogurt? I’d save my sugar for a real dessert that tastes good.
Corn starch: Corn in my yogurt? Lovely.
Natural Flavors: Oh, the always elusive “natural flavors.” Again, this could be literally anything.
Let’s get real people. This stuff is junk. It’s no health food.
3. Basic wheat bread from the supermarket
Of course as a person of the paleo persuasion I don’t advocate eating wheat at all, but again, that’s for another time and place. Let’s assume you believe wheat is good for you. Bread should be flour, eggs, salt, yeast, and maybe some spices and an oil. Am I missing something? Here’s what’s in this “heart healthy” whole grain bread:
Cane Refinery Syrup: A heavily refined sugar that is used to replace high fructose corn syrup. There’s not much information on its health effects, but I wouldn’t trust the stuff. Why there needs to be multiple forms of sugar in bread, I’m not sure.
Soybean oil: Please see above.
Dough conditioners: Dough conditioners make it faster and cheaper for companies to make bread. Monoglycerides and diglycerides may contain trans fat but legally don’t have to label it. I don’t think I need to argue that trans fat is bad for human health.
According to a lot of misinformed people, this stuff is one of the healthiest foods out there. The average whole wheat item from the grocery store is chock full of processed ingredients. If you’re gonna eat bread, at least buy or make the real stuff.
4. Nutrigrain bars
That’s a lot of ingredients for one bar, especially a bar that arguably doesn’t even taste good (I mean who actually likes this stuff?). Soy and canola, per the usual for processed food. There are a few new items yet to be discussed:
Carrageenan: This additive causes intestinal inflammation in the following studies:
Guar Gum: not much available on this but some link it to gastrointestinal distress.
Artificial food dye: is linked to hyperactivity in children:
What’s the point in eating it?
5. Alternative milks
Alternative milks are something even those natural minded tend to drink. Will it kill you? Certainly not but it does have more emulsifiers and preservatives than I’m comfortable with. It also has the ubiquitous natural flavors. All in all, it doesn’t compare to some of the crap on this list but it needs to be brought to light because of its view as a healthy drink. Malk milk does not use artificial ingredients and there may be others but this is the only brand I’m familiar with without artificial preservatives.