When we eat foods familiar to us, we often assume we know what’s in them. Their regularity in our diets makes it easy for us to feel comfortable, but oftentimes, the foods we eat on a weekly basis contain hidden truths. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news… but this is undoubtedly important to discuss and become aware of when purchasing food products at the grocery store and when ordering off a menu at a restaurant. We hear, either through the media, friends, family or certified nutritionists, about foods that are deemed “healthy,” yet manufacturers tend to add supplemental and unnecessary ingredients to products in order to make them taste better. A prime example of this would be adding mass amounts of sugar to gluten free baked goods in order to make up for the loss of flavor when eliminating regular flour. So, with that in mind, let me enlighten you about the everyday foods we eat that are potentially harming your body due to bad ingredients that should not be in these products/foods.
You are always better off making your meals at home. Not only can you control the ingredients you are putting into your dish, but you can see the nutrition label on each item you are adding. This is crucial because oftentimes there are hidden ingredients or added sugars that are simply unnecessary to be consuming. Oatmeal is a perfect example. Let’s say you go to McDonalds for breakfast and want to choose a “healthy” option — so, instead of splurging on the bacon, egg and cheese on a warm, buttermilk biscuit brushed with butter, you decide to order the oatmeal. 310 calories and 33g of sugar later, you are feeling a bit sluggish but also sugar high. Your “healthy” option isn’t making you feel so good. Making a cup of oatmeal at home with the toppings of your choice would reduce your caloric intake by half and your sugar intake by around 25g. This fact is not really about the calories of this bowl of oatmeal, but more about the hidden sugar within the simple breakfast item that you will be unaware of until you start to do some research on these foods.
When buying steak at the grocery store or ordering it off of the menu, typically the three words “grass-fed beef” will catch your eye. We associate this with being a healthier option as the beef is less caloric and not laden with antibiotics or hormones. However, a package of grass-fed beef that you purchase at Whole Foods might not actually mean all that much in terms of being more health-conscious. In fact, “grass-fed” might just mean the cow ate grass at some point in its life, which every cow does. Perhaps manufacturers are placing grass-fed labels on packages of beef without knowing that the cow could have eaten corn or hormones at any other point. This fact is definitely something to be aware of when purchasing beef at the grocery store or off of a menu.
- Parmesan Cheese
Well, the delicious “parmesan cheese” we have been eating on our pasta our whole lives might not really be real parmesan. The FDA has discovered the presence of wood pulp in certain blocks of parmesan — it was found that essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, contained 8.8 percent cellulose which is made from wood pulp. This is quite concerning as most people do not want to spend the extra money on imported parmigiano-reggiano from Italy to grate over their simple pasta dinner. So, next time you are at the grocery store, be cognizant of the parmesan you’re buying — even Whole Foods parmesan was found to contain .3% cellulose!
These are just three of many everyday foods we eat that contain hidden ingredients that we need to be aware of. It is so important that we educate ourselves on food safety and the unfortunate and nasty ingredients we might find within the “normal” foods we always consume.