I put the word “foods” in quotes in the title cause I’m not sure I would even consider some of the following items food. As in good for you, has vitamins and minerals or even that should ever be putting in your mouth! From artificial flavors and colors to words you’d need an advanced degree in chemistry to pronounce, there are thousands of ingredients making their way into your food that are simply not, strictly speaking, food.
As always, everything in moderation…or almost everything but the more informed you are about what you are actually eating the better equiped you are for ordering of the menu or choosing items at the grocery store.
1. Crab Sticks
Sushi lovers beware!!
You may be thinking that you eat crab in crab sticks, but this name is misleading. Crab sticks are actually manufactured from a processed seafood made of finely cheap pulverized white fish flesh (called surimi), with different edible additions (crab extract, crab flavor, seasonings etc). Surimi is available in many shapes, forms and textures, and is often used to imitate the texture and color of the meat of lobster, crab, and other shellfish. In crab sticks it is shaped to resemble leg meat of a crab. It enables food manufacturers to take cheap fish and upgrade it to a taste of the most expensive fish meats such as crab or lobster. This could have been worse as fish is considered good for us, but still it’s not a crab and it’s still a highly processed product with many additives. The assortment of additives may include other fish products, but it is usually egg whites, oils, salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and various starches and gums to create the expected texture.
2. Easy cheese
Easy Cheese is the trademark for a processed cheese product also referred to spray cheese or cheese in a can, and is a descendant of squeeze cheese packaged in a squeezable plastic tube. This product was created for people who like to eat cheese but can’t be bothered to get a knife and slice it for consumption. It comes packaged in a pressurized can, much like canned whipped cream and does not require refrigeration. Whereas cheese is made from handful of ingredients, Easy Cheese contains many additives such as whey protein concentrate, canola oil, milk protein concentrate, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, lactic acid, sorbic acid, sodium alginate, apocarotenal, annatto, cheese culture and enzymes.
3. “Cheez Whiz” cheese Dip
Cheez Whiz is a thick processed cheese sauce or spread, and many refer to it as ‘pseudo-cheese’. The yellow paste usually comes in a glass jar and is used as a topping for cheesesteaks, corn chips, hot dogs and other foods. The advantage of it is that it’s more spreadable and melts better then natural cheese. A single serving, which is defined as just two level tablespoons, contains nearly a third of a day’s recommended maximum of saturated fat as well as a third of the maximum sodium recommended for most of American adults. The problem is that if you sit in front of the TV and start dipping your crackers in it, it’s hard to stick to only 2 tablespoons. Also there are so many items listed in this product, starting with the watery by-product of milk called whey, canola oil, corn syrup, and an additive called milk protein concentrate, which manufacturers had begun importing from other countries as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive powdered milk produced by American dairies. So is it really a cheese, or perhaps more of a yellow-dyed paste?
4. Tofurky Italian vegan sausage
Tofurky is one of the leading vegetarian turkey replacement brands, and is made from a blend of wheat protein and organic tofu. You’ve probably heard that cutting back on meat (especially red meat) can help prevent heart disease and cancer in some cases, but replacing it with processed meat substitutes comes with its own price. Most meat substitutes are highly processed and full of artificial additives. Many are made from soy protein isolate, wheat gluten and other textured vegetable proteins, but also some questionable ingredients that help to mold them into meat-like shapes. So read the label on the package before buying. If the list of ingredients is long, it’s more likely there are additives and preservatives to stabilize the food, add flavor, or change its consistency. Some of these additives can include unhealthy amounts of extra salt, fat and sugar, as well as artificial additives. So why not just opt for tofu and green beans instead?
5. Chicken nuggets
Usually chicken nuggets contain just 40-50% meat and have been battered and deep fried. The rest seems to belong more to an industrial factory but not to a food retailer. Chicken nuggets are sold in various portion sizes. We all know that white chicken meat is one of the best sources of lean protein, but what has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather then low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it. Chicken nuggets tend to have a high fat content because they are breaded and fried, and are high in calories, salt and sugar. Eating them occasionally will not kill you, but since they taste good, are cheap and convenient and kids love them, it’s easier to eat them more often.
6. Tang fruit drink
This is a fruit-flavored breakfast drink that has been a part of many Americans’ breakfast since its release in the late 1950s. It was used by some early NASA astronauts in their space flights and was marketed as an astronauts drink. But you’re mistaken if you thought Tang was in any way related to fruit juice. For example, there is very little orange in the citrus flavored drink. According to its label, Tang contains sugar, less then 2% of orange juice solids, artificial colors and many other additives. Actually most of Tang’s flavor comes not from orange juice but from “natural and artificial flavor”. It is a drink that is engineered to taste like orange. You’d better have an orange with your breakfast to serve your body better. Instead of drinking this fake juice, go for real smoothie !
7. White bread
It has been known for a long time that white bread and refined grains in general aren’t particularly nutritious with all the nutrients taken out. As you know, whole grains are a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates and can also improve your digestive system’s health, but when the flour is refined, it loses many of its nutrients. Refined grains are no longer a complex carbohydrate and are no longer a slow release source of energy. They need little digestion and are absorbed rapidly so increase glucose levels in the body. During the refining process of wheat, the germ and the bran is removed and this means that the most nutritious part of the grain including fiber, vitamins and minerals is lost. It can be fortified, but sometimes with cheapest form of minerals and vitamins that are poorly absorbed by the body.
8. Uncrustables – peanut butter and jelly sandwich
These are massed produced sealed crust-less sandwiches. If you are too busy to spend 30 seconds making a fresh sandwich, then this product is for you. But look at the long list of ingredients and how processed this product is. The only thing on this list that looks like food is strawberries, but there is very little of it, and the rest are artificial ingredients that you’d be better to avoid, such as high-fructose corn syrup and heart-damaging hydrogenated oils.
9. “Gushers” fruit snack
Fruit Gushers are fruit snacks made primarily from sugar and fruit juice with other ingredients. The ingredient list for the strawberry flavor is long and doesn’t even mention strawberry but sugar, corn syrup, artificial colors and many other additives. So don’t fool yourself that this fruit snack is “fruity”. This is not a healthful snack product when, in fact, the product contains unhealthy partially hydrogenated oil, large amounts of sugar and artificial colors.
10. Maple flavored syrup
Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the sap of the maple tree, and many people love genuine 100% maple syrup, but the cheap, fake syrup that is a mix of water, high-fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring is not what you are looking for. In the United States, “maple syrup” must be made almost entirely from maple sap, although small amounts of substances such as salt may be added. On the other had “Maple-flavored” syrups include maple syrup but may contain additional ingredients. “Pancake syrup”, “waffle syrup”, “table syrup”, and similarly named syrups are substitutes which are cheaper then maple syrup, and in these syrups the primary ingredient is most often high fructose corn syrup and they have no genuine maple content.
11. Top of the list for me would be donuts. With zero nutritional value, only trans fats, white flours, and waaay too much sugar. These in my opinion are by far the worst thing you can eat. Sure they may taste good but not worth it.
So choose real foods as much as possible and be more aware of what goes into your body. A treat now and again isn’t going to kill you but remember you either feed your body or feed disease with what you eat.