All natural. Organic. Cage free. Range free. You’ve read the food labels, shelled out a little extra cash for the promise of healthier options, and savored the flavor of your favorite organics. But wait. If the truth were known about wholesome-labeled foods—the 100% real, 100% pure truth—you might find yourself lowering your fork. Or at least rethinking your grocery list.
There’s good news and bad news about today’s food choices. The bad news is that labels can be misleading. In fact, a growing number of nutritionists, natural food experts, and food industry insiders are blowing the whistle on some foods you’ve been led to believe are good for you and your brain. Buyers, beware when it comes to these popular foods with commonly mislabeled ingredients and processes:
•Seafood and salmon. “Wild caught” and “ocean fresh” may only be partially true. Some dietary reports disclose that salmon often spend half their lives in a hatchery before they become wild stock. This is bad news because farm-raised fish contain more cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, a 2013 seafood study revealed that in the United States, 87 percent of red snapper is not red snapper and 59 percent of tuna is not tuna. Does this mean you should go fishless forever? Not necessarily. You can’t catch every deception, but do your best to be as informed as you can. Read labels. Ask restaurants and food retailers if the fish they selling is farmed, and if it’s the type of fish you think you’re buying, or a cheaper substitute.
•Olive oil. Italian olive oil is often mixed with seed oils like canola, so read labels if you want to steer clear of hybrids. (Tip: Pay attention to where the oil originated. California is a more trusted source for pure olive oil).
•Honey. Forget the plastic bears. Typical store honey is processed with high heat and thinned with corn syrup. Buy only unpasteurized, raw honey.
•Raw almonds. Domestically grown almonds are often treated and stripped of nutrients and still labeled “raw.” Look for organic-labeled nuts, particularly imports from Spain.
• Milk. Some milk producers add artificial sweeteners including aspartame, so read the label to see what you’re really buying.
• Oreo cookies. What’s in that creamy filling? If you think it is real cream, think again. The the middle of an Oreo is actually made with vegetable oils and soy. We’re just sayin’.
Okay, fine, I admit it. Oreos aren’t exactly a brain-healthy food. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, it could be argued (if only with tongue in cheek) that vegetable oil and soy aren’t as bad for you as some of the chemicals and processes we’ve just identified in “healthier” options. And in my support of Oreos, I would like to add that cookie-dunking is still pretty much the happiest method of transporting calcium-rich, aspartame-free milk from your glass to your mouth. (See? We promised there would be good news!)