Every day is April Fool’s Day at the supermarket – learn how not to be the fool.

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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is a famous quote by Hippocrates that I like to use as a reminder to help keep me on track for eating healthy.  It’s easy to get side-tracked by all of the unhealthy options of food on the grocery store shelves.  Especially when marketers do such a good job of packaging and labeling things in a way to make them sound healthy. Instead of choosing foods that have attractive packaging with ingredient lists full of unhealthy chemicals, try to find items with the least amount of ingredients.  Get used to reading labels.

Just think about what the definition of food is:

“Any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to   sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.”

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup- made from genetically modified corn, causing obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Artificial Sweeteners Sucralose (Splenda), Aspartame, Acesulfame potassium, Saccharin (Sugar Twin or Sweet N’Low), polydextrose
  • TBHQ – a controversial additive to preserve processed foods
  • Sodium nitrate – found in processed meats.  Linked to cancer in humans.
  • Sodium benzoate – a preservative that is also a known carcinogen
  • BHA/BHT – a fat preservative linked to cancerous tumor growth
  • Carageenan – a stabilizer and thickening agent usually found in coffee creamers. It can cause ulcers and cancer
  • Butane – found in chicken nuggets to keep them fresh. A known carcinogen
  • Parabens – may be linked to breast cancer
  • Artificial Colors: Blue#1, Blue#2, Citrus Red #2, Red#3, Red#40, Yellow#5, Yellow#6, Green#3. Red#40 is the most used and consumed dye.  It’s known to cause hypersensitivity reactions in some people and hyperactivity in children.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens. Red #3 has been acknowledged for years by the FDA to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”  How crazy is that???  The FDA allows manufacturers to use these toxic food dyes, most commonly in kids’ foods, while the European Union puts warning labels on foods that contain artificial food dyes.  They actually asked their food manufacturers to remove most artificial food coloring from food in 2009.

It is best to get the colors of the rainbow in your food from natural sources and to shop only in the produce, dairy and meat sections.  If you must buy packaged products, I found this amazing app called “SIFT Food Labels” to help you decipher the food labels.

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