Do Ingredients Matter?

Today I want to talk about the ingredients in your foods. A lot of people read the front of a package of food and think it is healthy because it will say something like “May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease”. You will think to yourself, “Great! This is Healthy!” Then you will have some people that turn the package over and read the nutrition label on the back to see how many calories/grams of sugar it has to see if it is healthy… HOWEVER, people totally forget or don’t even know to look at the ingredient list under the nutrition label on the back. What is in our food matters so much. We can’t just think about calories and grams of sugar when we want to eat something healthy. We DEFINITELY can’t trust what they tell us on the front of the package. I want to show you an example of what I am talking about. Let me use Cheerios as my example.


First I want to point out… see that little heart on the front that claims it “May reduce the risk of heart disease”? You may think to yourself “Oh this is multi-grain made with 5 whole grains! This is so healthy!” Okay. Now let’s take a look at the back.

First off you need to know that the ingredients are listed by most to least. So the first ingredient listed is the ingredient that is most prevalent in this food and the last ingredient listed is the least amount in the food.

Alrighty. Lets just take a look ingredient by ingredient.

  1. Whole Grain Oats,Whole Grain Corn,Whole Grain Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Millet- I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything that looks whole other than a whole cheerio when I look in my cereal bowl. Grains are a topic of discussion that we will cover in another post, but it could be beneficial to your health to avoid grains altogether (depending on your situation). Especially these that are extremely processed in a factory. 
  2. Sugar- this is the 3rd most prevalent ingredient listed in this cereal. That means there is A LOT. And its super processed refined sugar. Not a great option for your body especially if you are eating this for breakfast.
  3. Corn Starch- Processed in factories made from corn and have no nutritional value other than adding calories. It has about 30 calories per tablespoon and 7 grams of Carbohydrate (that is a lot for 1 tablespoon)
  4. Corn Bran- Again, very processed in a factory and has low nutritional value.
  5. Brown Sugar Syrup- did you catch that this is the second time that sugar is listed?
  6. Salt- salt in and of itself in it’s natural unprocessed form is not necessarily bad in the correct amounts. However, do you think this salt is unprocessed? I think it probably is. 
  7. Tripotassium Phosphate- additive in foods that is generally recognized as safe by the FDA. However, in large quantities it can irritate your stomach lining and cause gastric upset and stomach pain. Could be linked to cancer as well. Take a look at this study. Not something I want in my body even in low quantities.
  8. Color (caramel color and annatto extract)-caramel color is made from ammonia. Need I say more?
  9. Vitamin E added to preserve freshness- yada yada yada. Food isn’t meant to be “preserved”. It’s meant to be eaten.

We can’t only look at the nutrition facts label and think that because it only has 6 grams of sugar it isn’t a bad option. We need to look deeper and think about what these ingredients might be doing to our body. If you are someone who is  trying to lose weight, or you have a medical condition like diabetes and/or high blood pressure, this is especially important for you. Even if you suffer from something minor like headaches or stomach aches, you may not realize that what you are eating is the reason for those pains!! AND if you don’t have any problems and you eat these foods, it is still important for you to pay attention because you will more than likely develop something down the road. If you are eating these foods as a main portion of your calories and trying to make a change to your health, you will find yourself very frustrated that your blood sugars aren’t going down, your blood pressure continues to rise, and you can’t lose the weight. You are trying to watch your calories and sugar intake by reading the nutrition facts label, but you see very little to no change in your overall health. And not to mention, you are STARVING all the time. 

I also want to mention that even if this food did really what it said it did, how nutrient dense is it? Does it contain a lot of nutrients that are beneficial to your health? It has listed a lot of vitamins in minerals on the package, but these are added into this food as synthetic (man-made) vitamins, and your body does not absorb them as well as if they were from a natural source. 

So what should you eat? My recommendation is to eat foods with the least amount of ingredients listed as possible. For example, an apple has one ingredient- apple. Or if you want a packaged food, try to have 5 ingredients or less. And try to make sure the ingredients are real ingredients. Not ingredients that are man-made or extremely processed in a factory. For breakfast specifically since we talked about cheerios in this post, I would recommend eating eggs, a smoothie (made with real fruit, almond butter, almond milk, apple, kale, etc….not bought at a store made with yogurt and syrupy fruits), or yogurt for breakfast. Maybe some fruit along with the eggs. You can be creative. If you really love cereal and the grains don’t affect you, then I would recommend this cereal that has all real ingredients.  We will get into this more specifically in other posts, but for now I will leave you with that. 

**I am not saying this food is evil and you can never eat it, I am saying that it should not be what we eat for breakfast every day or even as part of our normal weekly routine.**

Let me know your thoughts! 

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