Thirteen Ways to Avoid Toxic Groceries

   By divinecaroline  Aug 12, 2009

Various shelves throughout every aisle of your grocery store are stocked with wolves in sheep’s clothing. Colorful packaging, appetizing pictures, and nutrition claims hide the truth: unhealthy chemicals are lurking in many these seemingly harmless foods. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of hidden toxins that masquerade as safe products.

1. Stay away from processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausage. Sodium nitrate accounts for their appetizing red hue, but this additive can also cause the formation of nitrosamines in your system, which can lead to cancer.

2. Stick to low-mercury fish like American-farmed tilapia instead of swordfish or tuna. Overexposure can cause memory problems, fatigue, and other health issues, and besides, most wild fish stocks are threatened these days. (Looking for an alternative? There’s branzini, the fish you’ve never heard of.)

3. Reduce the amount of canned food you consume. Cans are commonly lined with bisphenol-A, an organic compound that, according to the Lang study, may be associated with diabetes and heart disease.

4. Cut back on meat and dairy products. These animal products may contain trace amounts of harmful contaminants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyl and dioxins. Although many of these toxins have been banned, they are still present in the soil. Reducing your intake of animal products is also more friendly to the environment.

5. Skip the diet soda and artificial sweeteners. Prolonged exposure to aspartame, a neurotoxic chemical additive in these products, can lead to nerve cell damage, dizziness, and headaches. Besides, anything that gives rats brain tumors is worth avoiding in my book.

6. Choose the farmed fish carefully. Studies show that farm-raised fish contain more polychlorinated biphenyl and over ten times the amount of dioxin.

7. Opt for organic chicken. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy discovered traces of arsenic in non-organic chickens. Exposure to this dangerous chemical can lead to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Another study also found numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in conventional poultry.

8. Only drink milk that says “no rBGH” on the carton because recombinant bovine growth hormone has been linked with breast cancer. Better yet, opt for responsibly-produced, unsweetened soy, nut or rice milk.

9. Avoid manufactured snacks. Hydrogenated oils are used to lengthen the shelf life of products like crackers and cookies, but they are also associated with diabetes and heart disease. Another reason to stay away from the middle aisles: snack foods are generally loaded with salt, corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.

10. Stay away from artificially-colored foods like candy, maraschino cherries, and gelatin. Mice and rats exposed to blue 1 and 2, red 3 and yellow 6 suffered from brain, adrenal gland, thyroid, and kidney tumors.

11. Always buy organic produce. This one’s a no-brainer, but the list wouldn’t be complete without it. Lingering pesticides can lead to nervous and reproductive system damage, not to mention cancer.

12. Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware to prepare your meals. The Teflon used to create nonstick surfaces can release noxious gases when exposed to high temperatures, which puts you at risk for heart disease.

13. Never microwave food in plastic bowls, containers, or dishes. Exposure to heat causes the bisphenol-A found in plastics to break down and potentially contaminate your food. Also, make sure to hand wash them.

For more information, check out Twelve Dangerous Food Additives and the Seven Most Dangerous Ingredients in Conventional Foods. 

Make a Comment

cenmad by cenmad | South Riding, VA
Sep 01, 2009

This is great info. I do most of what's on this list, but the facts about canned food were new to me. Very helpful!

Nisa615 by Nisa615 | Nashville, TN
Aug 29, 2009

Wow! I really should evaluate what I put in my families bellies. Great info.

onamission78 by onamission78 | Alexandria, TN
Aug 24, 2009

What a great article. It really helps to get so many practical ideas and tips. This is top notch info.

informedone by informedone | Gulf Breeze, FL
Aug 21, 2009

informedone I wanted to say thank you for posting information that is necessary and helpful and thus leads people to make better informed decisions.

jadinechilds by jadinechilds | Washington, DC
Aug 20, 2009

I didn't know about rbh.

littlestar89 by littlestar89 | RENO, NV
Aug 20, 2009

Great, concise compiled list... I am passing this along!

otzieinsc by otzieinsc | Greer, SC
Aug 19, 2009

Great information and very useful - thank you for the list and let us know if there is more food that should be added.

Dare2BDifferent by Dare2BDifferent | Port Tobacco, MD
Aug 19, 2009

I'm sorry, and I fully expect to get blasted for this, but #11 is wrong. Pesticides are used on organic farms, and "organic" pesticides are far more toxic than synthetics.

kortneyls by kortneyls | Des Plaines, IL
Aug 19, 2009

Somewhat good information, but thejury is still out as to whether sodium nitrate is bad for you. Sodium nitrate prevents botulism. Also, we must all remember that "natural" food does not equal "organic" food.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Aug 19, 2009

wow, most of those things I already do because, thank god, i have a paranoid mum when it comes to health and the products in our kitchen. however, i feel that too much of a good thing can also be bad.

peanut1 by peanut1 | syracuse, NY
Aug 19, 2009

i have been buying the oscar meyer all natural hot dogs they have no nitrates or nitrites

cali230 by cali230 | Duluth, GA
Aug 19, 2009

yay a healthy tip for everyone! thanks~

diji1519 by diji1519 | Saskatoon, OU
Aug 18, 2009

Thanks for putting this up. I didn't know most of these things.

Shydreamer by Shydreamer | Floral Park, NY
Aug 17, 2009

wow, this is really helpful.

Aug 17, 2009

Good information - but not very realistic in the average household. How about some info that is actually do-able for families and during a bad economy....... not everyone can shop at Whole Foods everyweek.