How to avoid deceptively 'healthy' junk foods while shopping

Thursday, August 16, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: junk foods, shopping, food labels

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(NaturalNews) An increasing number of "junk" food items are now being repacked and rebranded as health food items, with claims that they contain things like added vitamins and minerals, or no trans-fats. But oftentimes such items are still just junk foods with deceptive labels, and consumers need to be aware of this when browsing the grocery store aisles in search of foods that are truly healthy for them and their families.

Just because a box of sugar-filled, artificial color-laden cereal, for instance, says it is an "excellent source of fiber" or "made from 100 percent whole grains" does not necessarily mean that the product is healthy. Even if the cereal has been enriched with "eight vitamins and mineral," it more than likely was so highly processed in the first place that the manufacturer had to go back and add in synthetic nutrients just to make the product edible.

Most added vitamins and minerals are synthetic, do not absorb well in the body

Cereals, crackers, chips, cookies, juices, fruit snacks, and many other junk foods marketed primarily towards children often bear labeling that claims they are rich in certain vitamins, or that they contribute to a healthy and balanced diet. But what many parents do not realize is that the added nutrients in such products are typically synthetic, which means they are not easily absorbed by the body.

Refined flour-based products are almost always fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals, for example, because these nutrients have been fully stripped out during processing. But the type of vitamins and minerals that are added back in have been concocted in a lab rather than in nature, and tend to provide little or no benefits when consumed.

Many so-called healthy brands are also guilty of this deception, as they, too, fortify their flour-based snack products with vitamins and minerals that would have been naturally present had heavy processing not been a part of the production process. This is typically the case with crackers and breakfast cereals, most of which undergo intense processing and cooking protocols.

A good way to tell whether or not a food product has been synthetically fortified with vitamins and minerals is to look for them spelled out individually in the ingredients list. If you see these additives listed out, there is a pretty good chance that the product has been highly processed and is nutritionally inadequate, requiring the addition of at least some nutrients back into the product.

Autolyzed yeast extract, GMOs, and soy

Another additive to watch out for is autolyzed yeast extract, which is basically just another name for the brain damaging chemical monosodium glutamate, or MSG. Flavored snack chips, crackers, meats, food bars, and many other items that appear healthy often contain it, despite the fact that, just like MSG, autolyzed yeast extract can cause headaches, reproductive problems, endocrine disruption, nervous system disorders, and other harm. (

The same goes for hidden ingredients of genetically-modified (GM) origin such as soybean and canola oils. Many of the so-called healthy products sold at health food grocers like Whole Foods Market , for instance, contain canola oil, a highly toxic oil that studies are now showing actually promotes heart disease and disease-causing inflammation in the body.

Soy ingredients, which are often found in many "health" foods as well, are also problematic. Besides being of GM origin unless otherwise specified, soy ingredients can seriously alter hormone levels in the body, and many soy derivatives are created using a highly toxic solvent chemical known as hexane. (

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