Just Say No to These Foods

Enjoying food is one of life’s pleasures, but there really are some things that we should all be avoiding. Sadly, there are some ingredients that are allowed in foods in the United States but which are banned elsewhere in the world. So, because our food manufacturers sometimes appear to have little regard for our health given the junk they put into our foods, it’s up to the individual to beware!

Now, everyone knows that sugar is one of the worst things we humans subject our bodies to. Somehow, we just can’t seem to help it! If you are going to enjoy a treat with sugar, do it in moderation, and choose your snack carefully.

The less number of ingredients, the better – that’s a good start! And the more you can pronounce and actually understand the ingredients, well, that’s even better! For example, if you like chocolate, you’ve already been told that dark chocolate in moderation is a good thing.

That’s great news to those of us who enjoy dark chocolate! But, not all chocolate is created equal.

Ingredients in Hershey special dark chocolateLook at this screenshot of the ingredients panel of this Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar (which contains 45% Cacao – most people who study such things will probably tell you that this is a fairly low level of Cacao for a dark chocolate. 70% is much higher, as we’ll see in the next screenshot).

The ingredients are listed as Sugar; Chocolate; Cocoa Butter; Cocoa Process with Alkali; Milk Fat; Lactose (Milk); Soy Lecithin, PGPR, Emulsifier; Vanillin; Artificial Flavor; Milk.

Now, what, you may be asking, is “PGPR?” Well, according to the Hershey’s official website, it’s an emulsifier known more formally as polyglycerol polyricinoleate, and comes from castor bean oil. They say that it’s a safe ingredient that is commonly used in foods. Why would they even use it? My guess is as good as yours, but a quick internet search about the ingredient will make it clear: It’s cheaper than cocoa.

Now take a look at the screenshot of the Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate Bar ingredients.Ingredients in Lindt 70 percent dark chocolate

Chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin (emulsifier), bourbon vanilla beans.

Which chocolate bar would you rather enjoy?

Personally, I’ll take the Lindt (and pay a little more) every day of the week.

I do eat out and am sure I have my share of MSG when I go to enjoy a Chinese Meal (although some restaurants don’t use it). But in my house, there is not one packaged food with MSG as an ingredient. MSG, or monosodium glutamate does naturally occur in tomatoes and some cheeses, and is “generally recognized as safe” as a food additive according to the FDA (http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm328728.htm), but there are also reports of adverse reactions to it (see the Mayo Clinic article at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/monosodium-glutamate/faq-20058196).

While I’m sure that the debate will rage forever on this, I steer clear of it in any products at home.

I don’t care what the corn industry TV commercials say about High Fructose Corn Syrup. I avoid it, and again, you will not see it in any food in my home.

I love apples and peanut butter. But you will never see me pick up a jar of Skippy or Jif “peanut butter” unless my life is being threated if I don’t. According to the official Jif website, the ingredients in their peanut butter include: roasted peanuts and sugar, 2% or less of: Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed and Soybean), Mono and Diglycerides, Salt.

Even Skippy, my beloved peanut butter of childhood contains: Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed, Soybean and Rapeseed Oil) To Prevent Separation, Salt.

However, you can rest assured that there are still some peanut butters out there on nearly every grocery shelf that you can find just two ingredients: roasted peanuts and salt. Some of these include Teddie, and even Smucker’s. The bottom line is just look at the ingredients label. If there are more than 2 ingredients, I just don’t buy it.

I don’t purchase any bread with more than the essential ingredients either – for example, wheat, yeast, water, salt. I may buy some with honey or oats or molasses, but if there is anything called “DATEM” (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides, also E472e) in it, I avoid it. I’m not going to say anything about it except that my grandmother never added it to her breads, and so I’m not eating it. Again, I’m sure it’s in some breads when I go out to eat, but it’s not in my house.

So, it really comes down to this: Eat food with ingredients you can pronounce and understand, and don’t let manufacturers try to fool you into buying stuff you don’t trust.