Believe it or not, there are not strict restrictions from the FDA about using the term “natural.” There are many foods that are assumed to be natural, when in reality that are more processed that you may realize.
Here is a list of 4 top offenders.
1. Almond milk
Sure, almond milk is a great low-cal alternative to cow’s milk that is made from one of the most natural foods you can find—almonds. But, the truth is that there are very few almonds in almond milk, and it is mostly water. Almond milk preserves little to none of the protein, fibre, healthy fats, and antioxidants found in almonds. What you get is a lot of fortified nutrients, stabilizers, and thickeners, which could contribute to gastrointestinal inflammation. Rice milk is actually no better! Instead, choose coconut milk or stick to real dairy milk (organic versions).
2. Veggie chips
We like the idea of snacking on a salty food that is made from real vegetables. But, in general, veggie chips are pretty far removed from real vegetables. The main ingredients are potato starch, and there are added flavourings. The colours come more from vegetable powder and not the real vegetables themselves. There are some healthy exceptions, but it is really important to read these labels and know what you are getting. Instead of veggie chips, make your own homemade potato chips, or just have a few regular potato chips to satisfy your urge.
3. Cold cuts
Although extremely convenient, prepackaged lunch meats are not just thin slices of meat taken from a roast. They are typically made from a mashed up mixture of different parts of meat, and combined with fillers, additives, sodium, nitrates, and emulsions. These additives do help prevent bacterial growth, but they are not good for you and have even been linked to cancer. Instead, choose fresh cut slices of meat from unflavoured roasts or poultry.
4. Granola bars
Again, these sound like a great way to pack in some nutrients, but you are getting way more than you bargained for when you get the added cellulose, rice flour, mysterious flavours, added sugar, and even colouring. Instead, reach for a handful of nuts to fill up and satisfy your urge to crunch. Or make homemade granola bars so that you know exactly what you are getting.