Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Healthy Choices at the Grocery Store - Part 2

You can read Part 1 here.  This time I want to share with you some of the additives that I avoid at the grocery store. How do I do this? If one of these things are listed on the label, I try very hard not to purchase that item.  We aren't 100% there yet but we are very close!

My list ended up a little longer than I thought when I wrote Part 1.  Here are my "Dirty 13"!

1.  Sodium Nitrite/Sodium Nitrate - this is a preservative used for coloring and flavoring in meats (bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats and other processed meats). It has been linked to the formation of cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines. Some companies are now coming out with meats that are nitrite free.

2. GMOs - if it has the possibility of having GMOs it's out - this means no sodas, no soy, no pre-processed or pre-prepared foods and no high fructose corn syrup.  You can read more about GMOs here and here.  This list will continue to grow as they add more and more GMO products to our store shelves.

3.  High Fructose Corn Syrup - is made with corn that has most often been genetically modified.  See #2.

4. Aspartame - this is an artificial sweetener found in everything!  For an eye-opening read, do some research on how this dangerous chemical was approved in our food supply.  Studies have shown it to cause brain tumors in rats and it also increases the possibility of lymphomas and leukemia.  It is linked to memory problems and can actually cause weight gain among other things. (sort of defeats the purpose of a "diet" anything!) The damage it can do to the human body is amazing...I encourage you to do your own research before you have another diet-anything! I recommend a book called Sweet Deception.

5. Acesulfame-K - another artificial sweetener.  You will find this in gum, baked goods, soft drinks and more!  Studies have not proven the safety of this chemical however, studies have linked it to cancer.  When Acesulfame-K breaks down it becomes acetoacetamide, which has been found to negatively affect  thyroid function in rats, dogs and rabbits.

* A note about artificial sweeteners - there isn't a good one!  It is far safer to eat white sugar...and we know how bad white sugar is for you!  Instead, may I suggest Stevia - a wonderful herb, completely safe and 100 times sweeter than sugar!

6.  Monosodium Glutamate - also known as MSG - this is used as a flavor enhancer in many pre-packaged and canned foods such as soup, salad dressings, chips of all kinds, deli meats and more. A neurosurgeon, Dr. Blaylock, cites a link between sudden cardiac death and excitotoxic damage caused by food additives like MSG.  It can cause different reactions in different people.  One of my sons suffers from terrible migraines if he accidentally ingests MSG. Other noted side effects include nausea and vomitting - which my son also experiences.  MSG can appear on labels under different names.  Check out this article if you'd like to avoid all MSG.  If you want to learn more about Excitotoxins, I recommend this book by Dr. Blaylock - a must read for Moms.

7. Propyl Gallate - another preservative!  This is used to prevent fats/oils from spoiling and may be another cancer causing agent.  You'll find it in gum, meat products, vegetable oils, snacks, soup bases and more. It is often used with BHA and BHT.

8.  BHA & BHT - Short initials for long names - Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used for the same reasons Propyl gallate is used...to keep fats and oils from going rancid.  You'll find this in many food products...cereal, oils, gum, chips and more.  This has also been found to cause cancer in rats.  Not all manufacturers use this so check the labels and be willing to switch brands.

9. Olestra - this is a fat substitute (synthetic fat) and is also found under the name Olean.  It is found in most crackers and chips. It is not absorbed by the body (just goes through it) so it can cause diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal cramps, loose stools and more.  Most importantly, olestra reduces your body's ability to absorb beneficial fat-soluble nutrients such as lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene.

10. Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil/Trans Fats - The process used to make hydrogenated vegetable oil creates trans fats (trans-fatty acids) which promote heart disease and diabetes.  You should avoid trans fats as much as possible. Trans fats raise your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your "good" (HDL) cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease.  The more you cook from scratch, the easier this becomes.  In the store you will find this in margarine (buy butter - it's good for you!), vegetable shortening, baked goods of all kinds, doughnuts, french fries, breads, salad dressings, crackers and more!  It increases the shelf life of foods (important for grocery stores!). Be aware that labeling laws state that if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, they can label it as trans-fat free.  In many cases, the serving size of these foods is ridiculously low - you will end up eating more than the label lists therefor getting a dose of trans fats without realizing it!

11. Potassium bromate - this is used in breads and rolls to produce a fine crumb structure and to increase the volume.  Bromate has been banned throughout the world, except for the United States and Japan.  This has been shown to cause cancer in animals.

12. Food Coloring - Blue1, Blue2, Red3, Yellow6.  Blue 1 is used to color candy, drinks and baked goods and may cause cancer.  Blue 2 is found in candy, drinks and pet food - and has caused brain tumors in mice! Red3 is used in cherries, candy and baked goods.  It causes thyroid tumors in rats and may be linked to those type of tumors in humans. Yellow6 is found in baked goods, sausages, candy and even gelatin.  It has been found to cause adrenal gland and kidney tumors and contains small amounts of many carcinogens.

13.  Sodium chloride - also known as table salt.  Don't let the little girl with the umbrella fool you - this is nasty stuff! Salt is used world wide in the manufacture of varnish, plastics, laundry detergents and more!  Chemical processes require pure sodium chloride so all of the essential minerals and trace elements are removed from natural salt - they are considered impurities when salt is used for industrial purposes. What is left over is used to preserve foods and this nutrient-deficient salt leaves us craving...salt!  Choose natural salt instead! It contains 84 elements that are vital to life...such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sodium magnesium, silicum, chloride, calcium, titanium, chromium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, zirconium, silver, iodine, platinum, and more! Did you know that your body sees sodium chloride as an unnatural substance and tries to eliminate it? It surrounds it with water molecules in order to break it down into sodium and chloride...resulting in...water retention (edema)! If there is more sodium chloride in your body than it can neutralize by pulling water out of your cells, then the body gets rid of the excess by binding it with uric acid to form new crystals.  These are then deposited directly in the bones and joints and are known as arthritis, gout, kidney stones and gall bladder stones! Natural salt is available even at the big box grocery stores - it's affordable, and delicious.  You will find that you need to use less natural salt than sodium chloride (and will crave it less) because it is full of the nutrients your body is seeking.  A little goes a long way!

I hope this helps you as you try to provide wholesome and healthy food for yourself and your family! Let me know if I've missed something!



  1. Wow, Cheri, this post is eye-opening. I thought I knew most things to avoid. You've added at least 6 that I haven't heard about before. I'll be following up.

  2. Hi Diane!
    With over 800,000 chemicals approved for use in our food supply, I'm afraid that I am only hitting the very tip of the proverbial iceberg!
    Thanks for reading!

  3. Cheri, I think that is interesting and helpful as we try to get healthier!


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