It says “Healthy” on the box, so it’s good for me, right? Wrong. The front of any product can be extremely misleading. The somewhat cliché saying of, “Don’t judge a book by it’s [front] cover” couldn’t be any more true.
Adjectives like “natural” or “all-natural” need to be approached with caution as well. Frozen dinners are the biggest culprits… ever hear about “Healthy” Choice?
The key to conscious grocery shopping is reading the ingredients list and making sure you can pronounce those ingredients. But that obviously isn’t enough.
According to Harvard Extension Hub, a whopping 75,000 chemicals are licensed and used in the United States! In not only food, but cosmetics and hygiene products as well .
So, what ingredients are especially hazardous to our health?
At all costs, avoid…
1 MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
A flavor enhancer, but definitely not a health enhancer in any way, shape, or form. Usually found in canned and restaurant foods.
2 TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone)
Buty-what? A synthetic antioxidant that is used for extending shelf life of many different foods like McDonald’s chicken nuggets, cereal, saltine crackers… It’s even included in perfume!
3 Hydrogenated Oils
…or even partially hydrogenated are no good. Go for expeller-pressed whenever possible. When cooking, use virgin organic coconut or virgin olive oil.
4 Sodium Nitrate
A preservative normally found in deli meats. Known to cause cancer… then again, what harsh chemicals/synthetic ingredients can’t be linked to a wide range of diseases and bodily disruptions?
5 Excessive Salt/Sodium
The best way to avoid this is not eating at restaurants frequently. I’d go to restaurants like Chipotle frequently thinking they were really great for me, until I looked up how much sodium is in one chicken burrito bowl (with no sour cream or cheese, just veggies, white rice, black beans, guacamole, and lettuce)… 1775mg! A.N.D. (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) says that we should stay within the range of 1500 to 2300 mg, but preferably lower .
Do I still eat at Chipotle? From time to time, yes, and I’m not telling you NOT to eat there, but don’t indulge in any restaurant food too much. When cooking, use sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. Don’t be fooled, though. Those kind of salts still need to be consumed in moderation.
6 Excessive Added Sugar
(alternative names: evaporated cane juice, cane syrup) Just look at the grams of sugar or see if sugar is near the top of the list (ketchup is a perfect example). If it’s more than 10 grams per serving, there’s a problem. According the AHA (American Heart Association), on average, men are only supposed to ingest 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar daily and for women, it’s even less: 25 grams or 6 teaspoons .
7 High Fructose Corn Syrup
(alternative names: HFCS, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, isoglucose, etc.). The CRA (Corn Refiners Association) has been trying to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to corn sugar for quite some time. However, the FDA refused due to the fact that it’s fabricating the harmful ingredient for what it really is… well, harmful.
8 Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, Sorbitol, Splenda… artificial anything can’t possibly be beneficial to your health. Click here to see a list of truly healthy sweet-tooth quenching alternatives.
[Related Post: 4 Natural, Nutrient-Rich Sugar Substitutes.]
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it certainly includes a vast majority of the main poisons found in a lot of our processed foods today.
The easiest ways to avoid most of this stuff is to eat certified organic GMO-free WHOLE foods. I understand it isn’t easy to avoid boxed or canned foods permanently, but at least aim to eat more of the whole foods than the far-from-whole foods. We include many healthily delicious recipes here.
1. Harvard Extension Hub
2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
3. American Heart Association
*DISCLAIMER: Always consult a medical professional before applying the advice given throughout this website. While the articles on HMM are thoroughly researched, it is important to speak with your medical provider before starting a new exercise routine or introducing something new to your diet. We ourselves are NOT doctors, so the information we feature should not be used to replace any of your medications or lifestyle choices that have been recommended by your doctor. Read at your own risk and read our full disclaimer here.