With no FDA definition or standards for use of the term, it’s easy for companies to create the impression of a straight-from-the-farm product. Here are 4 foods that aren’t as “natural” as they claim to be.
It seems like a win-win: a low-calorie dairy substitute made from one of nature’s nutritional powerhouses. Except there are actually very few almonds in this mostly water beverage, and pretty much none of their natural goodness—including protein, fiber, healthy fat, and antioxidants—survives the processing into “milk.” Instead, what’s added is a whole bunch of fortified nutrients, thickeners and stabilizers like carrageenan, which scientists warn may cause gastrointestinal inflammation. The same goes for rice milk.
Better choice: Coconut milk or real dairy.
It’s easy to be tempted by the idea of a crunchy, salty snack food made from real vegetables. But the truth is, most veggie chips (also veggie straws) have very little in common with a real vegetable. They’re made mostly from dehydrated corn or potato starch, contain lots of flavoring, and even the color comes from vegetable powder and not the real thing. Some exceptions exist, including Terra brand chips, which really are just sliced, fried, and salted root vegetables.
Better choice: Make your own veggie chips, or just grab the potato chips like you wanted to do in the first place.
Oh, how we’d like to believe those convenient packages of sliced “lunch meat” were truly just super thin slices straight off the roast. But the reality is most packaged lunch or deli meats are made from a mash up of different sections of meat bound together with additives, fillers, emulsions, a whole lot of sodium, and nitrates, which help prevent bacterial growth but has been linked to cancer.
Better choice: Fresh-cut slices from whole unflavored roasted meats or poultry
Oats, honey, and nuts baked into a convenient hand-held snack—sounds like wholesome choice when you need an energy boost, right? Except that there are plenty of granola bars out there that contain a lot more stuff than you’d want in your “all natural” snack, like cellulose, rice flour, coloring, mysterious “natural flavors,” and lots of added sugar.
Better choice: Make your own, or just enjoy a handful of nuts.