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As I was browsing through my local health food store this week, I noticed that despite its outwardly appearance there were many foods in the store that still had toxic ingredients.
Surprisingly, many of these foods can be found in the health food aisle or in health food stores. But when you look at the food labels, there’s an entirely different story.
1. Tigers Milk bars.
Tigers Milk bars were the original health bars on the market. These bars were introduced in the 1960s by Schiff Vitamins and continue to be a favorite among health food advocates. Even my beloved Trader Joe’s sells them. But if you look at the ingredient list, you’ll notice high fructose corn syrup is the first ingredient listed. Do you really want to eat a “nutrition bar” loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup?
A better alternative is to make your own protein bar or trail mix (like this Protein-Packed Grain-Free Trail Mix).
2. Peanut butter.
Take a closer look at your favorite jar of peanut butter. Chances are it’s made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is used to keep the oil from separating from the peanut butter. What’s the big deal with that? Well, partially hydrogenated vegetables oils is trans fat. While some trans fats are healthy (such as those derived from natural sources like dairy and grass-fed meat), consumption of man-made trans fat (such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) may lead to increased risk of coronary heart disease, higher LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol).1 And peanut butter made with palm oil instead isn’t any better. Like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, palm oils can raise LDL and lower HDL levels.2
The safest bet is to look at alternative raw nut butters or make your own by soaking and grinding it yourself. Try this homemade almond butter recipe from The Nourishing Cook or this macadamia nut butter recipe from The Coconut Mama.
3. Microwave popcorn.
Microwave popcorn has long been touted as a health food due to it’s low calorie and relatively low fat content. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Most brands of microwave popcorn are coated with perfluorochemicals (PFCs) – chemicals linked to thyroid disease, ADHD, cancer and reproductive system issues.3 In addition, the chemical diacetyl is often used for the artificial buttery flavor has been linked to lung damage in factory workers who make microwave popcorn.4
Your best bet is to make your own popcorn. You can buy organic popcorn kernels and pop them yourself with a little extra virgin coconut oil with a stovetop popper or even with a large cast iron pot with a lid (I’ve done it myself and it’s delicious).
4. Soy and vegetarian meat.
Fake vegetarian meat made from soy such as Boca Burgers were all the rage years ago as an alternative to meat. It seemed like the humane option. Yet, what most people don’t know is that these protein burgers are made with soy from GMO crops and filled with other ingredients such as methylcellulose (a chemical compound made from cellulose – or wood pulp5), hydrolyzed corn protein, wheat gluten and other additives.
Grass-fed meat, organic poultry and pastured, cage-free eggs are a better alternative. And those who are vegan, nuts (walnut, pistachios), quinoa, seeds (pumpkin, flax, hemp), avocados and beans (soaked or sprouted) are all packed with protein.
5. Packaged egg products.
It’s tempting to reach for those cartons of packaged egg products, such as Egg Beaters and ReddiEgg, in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. They often claim to be lower in calories and fat than real eggs. But the ingredients in a real egg is simply an egg. The Southwestern flavor of Egg Beaters contains 31 ingredients. You read that right 31 ingredients – including artificial colors, modified food starch and other additives.6
The best bet is to simply go with pastured or organic, cage-free eggs from a local farmer.
6. Low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
For years, consumers have been eating low-fat or non-fat yogurt as a healthy alternative to full-fat yogurt. Lower calories and fat meant weight loss, right? Well, that’s not the whole story. Low-fat and non-fat yogurt (especially flavored versions) such as Yoplait are chock full of artificial ingredients such as aspartame (a known carcinogen) and other sugar substitutes. Plus, it’s loaded with sugar. And interestingly, in the process of removing the fat, the fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and D are removed, and thus have to be added artificially to put it back in.
Ditch low-fat and non-fat yogurt (and all low-fat or non-fat dairy products) and go for the full-fat versions. The fat keeps you full and give you fat-soluble vitamins that your body needs. Opt for organic, hormone-free, full-fat yogurt when possible.
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