5 Things to Avoid at “Health Food” Stores

Are "health food" stores selling healthy food?

I went to check out the new Fresh Market in town and I was quite disappointed. I came to the realization that these “health food” chains/stores glorify junk food and people buy it. Sure it’s a nice experience. The store is neat and clean. There is nice music playing. The displays are beautiful. The ceiling is vaulted. There are flower bouquets, and even flower bouquet holders in the shopping cart. It’s all about marketing. However…the produce was mostly conventionally grown produce, except almost double the cost. I went to the butcher and they had no grass-fed beef. Maybe they do carry it other days, but I was disappointed.

 

There were 2 HUGE candy displays like this:

"healthy" candy

“healthy” candy?

 

I could not find a salad dressing without canola oil or soy oil in it…and that is when I had my realization. I think people really do buy these organic labels or beautifully displayed foods at a “health store” and truly believe it is a more nourishing product.

The only local “Healthy” store that I enjoy is the Healthy Living Market here in Saratoga. I am not an affiliate to them.  Although they still offer a great deal of less than desirable and conventional products (they kind of have to cater to the vegetarians who eat all processed foods and believe they are healthy, the people who still believe canola oil is good for their heart, as well as the general public looking for healthier ingredients). However, they still offer a huge variety of fermented vegetables, kombucha on tap, roasted seaweed made with coconut oil and olive oil. They offer grass-fed and local pasture raised meats and eggs at a reasonable price. They have a huge selection of Applegate Farms products, including the breakfast sausage that my kiddos love. The pasture raised eggs they sell are also soy free. That is a rare find! They have the meat sticks that I love in several different flavors, as well as many kinds of grass-fed beef jerky without soy in it, and they carry my beloved wild planet sardines in a variety of flavors. They have a huge variety of local meats, and some exotic meats.  My kids call it the “paleo store.” I go there for all my special things that I know I couldn’t find a regular store. I am so happy this local gem opened up!

With that said…

I wanted to share with you my top 5 health store pet-peeve foods that you should avoid buying and consuming, and why. These products are also found in the “health food” or “natural products” aisles at conventional grocery stores. Stop buying them!

 

1. Soy Anything. 

soy beans

Soy is not a health food. I repeat. Soy.is.not.good.for.your.body.at.ALL. Sorry, but I get so frustrated at the variety of soy based products out there claiming to be a great meat alternatives. Or the amount of soy placed in items that claim to be meat-like items. Or soy oil in dressings and marinades.

Or the strange chips made out of soy like these:

 

soychips1

 

So why must you avoid soy?  I could write it all out but these awesome bloggers already did so:

Here is a well-written research based piece by The Healthy Home Economist

Here is another well-written piece by Grassfed Girl

and one more well-written piece by Food Renegade

In a nutshell:

1. Most of the soy the US is genetically modified, even some organic and “natural” brands.

2. Soy is a major hormone disruptor leading to hormonal imbalances and fertility issues. I nearly destroyed my thyroid consuming soy when I use to think it was a health food.

3. Soy contains anti-nutrients (known as phytates) which block mineral absorption. Soy proteins can be difficult to digest contributing to leaky gut, inflammation throughout the body, and autoimmune diseases.  Soybeans are very high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consuming large amounts can lead to fatty acid imbalances.

 

Read food labels. You will be surprised at the amount of organic food-products sold that contain soy!

real food labels

 

2. Canola Oil Products.

I find it nearly impossible to find a salad dressing (sometimes I get lazy and don’t want to make my own) that does not contain canola oil! It is also in packaged products that would have otherwise been a great product if good oils were used.

 

salad dressingcanola oil

People still want to believe that canola oil is good for the heart. Canola oil is a highly processed rancid oil that causes inflammation in the body. Canola oil actually contributes to heart disease, as do vegetable oils.

Canola oil is a polyunsaturated oil:

  • Poly (many) of the bonds are unsaturated with hydrogen.
  • Polyunsaturated oils are liquid at room temperature and in the refrigerator.
  • Polyunsaturated oils include: vegetable oils and industrial seed oils, such canola, corn, soy, sunflower, cottonseed, and safflower.
  • Polyunsaturated oils are highly processed.
  • These polyunsaturated seed oils are very high in omega 6 fatty acids and low in omega 3’s.
  • Heat, light, and oxygen break these oils down and render them chemically unstable. The volatile chemical structure (from the process of being heat extracted releasing free-radicals) can wreak havoc on the body at a cellular level, and cause chronic inflammation…the root of modern diseases.
  • These oils are not stable.
  • Contrary to what you might have heard, these oils should be avoided! It is not easy to avoid them when you go out to eat, but don’t buy them! These oils are also found in packaged processed foods like potato chips-including those you buy at the “health food” store.

Here is a blog post I wrote about which oils to consume, which to avoid, and why.

Here is a video of canola oil being processed in a factory.

 

3.Glorified Candy

 

rock candy

Candy is sugar. Fancy organic candy is sugar. It will have the same response in the body as non-organic candy. It will stress the pancreas, liver, and adrenals just like regular candy. American’s consume an average of 170 pounds of sugar a year from processed foods, soda, and candy. Buying fancy organic candy is not going to take away from that.

 

4. Energy Bars

Protein bars

Most “energy” bars contain the same amount of sugar as candy bars, contain less than desirable oils, contain soy, wheat, and other less than desirable ingredients. It’s very easy to make your own energy bites with ingredients like coconut oil, shredded coconut, dates, ground soaked nuts, raw honey, flax seeds, etc. Then you know what is in it. Homemade energy bars can be great for athletes. However, steer clear of this aisle in stores that claim to be health-food stores.

 

5.  Agave Nectar

agave nectar

Same blood sugar response as high fructose corn syrup. Yet I’m still seeing it in the sweetener aisle, and in many products like this Organic dressing: It contains soy oil and agave nectar. Agave is still being touted as a healthy sweetener. Stick with molasses, raw honey, or maple syrup in small amounts.

 

french organic dressing

 

My take home message is that health claims are all about marketing. There is also a ton of bad health advice going around from biased sources with agendas. My only agenda is I want you to nourish your body with real food. Stick with real food. Eat foods that our early ancestors would have hunted and gathered. Real food has not been processed or altered. It doesn’t usually come in a box or jar. Sure we can’t all live like cave people. I get that. I love to bake. I love occasional treats like these Hail Merry tarts. Just read the ingredients and think about what you are putting into your body. Don’t believe the hype or the health claims. Some conventional grocery stores contain more real food then these health food stores.

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Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more!! You nailed all five culprits. I don’t have a problem with allowing people to consume what they want…that’s not my business. But I do have a problem with people who believe they are truly nourishing their bodies with misleading products that are advertised as healthy. These food trends like soy-everything-products kinda make me crazy…especially the way people gobble it up and don’t research a thing. I don’t know whether to blame the companies for misleading us or the people for putting their trust into companies. People should open their eyes and not just read more labels but understand the ingredients. I can blame myself for falling into the trap. I got on an agave kick when it first became popular years ago. Trader Joe’s sold it with a nice shiny “raw organic” label so I told myself it had to be healthy and was the perfect substitute for white sugar. I read that it came from the catcus plant and had a low glycemic index…what’s not to love. So I poured it in my coffee; on yogurt; on fruit; in oatmeal…anything I could. After a few months I realized I was badly addicted to this sweet syrup. I wouldn’t go a day without it. I couldn’t continue to ignore my body. So I opened my eyes and read up more – this time from credible sources. I knew it wasn’t good for me but I had to see it in writing. Then I broke my love affair with it and never looked back. It’s much easier to lie to yourself but in the end – why bother?

  2. Jenelle says:

    Yes, to the canola and soy oil. I wonder through my local organic market trying to find a salad dressing without because sometimes I get lazy too! Do you have recommendations?

  3. Angela T says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I wanted to go check out the new fresh market, hoping for another store to find quality paleo stuff. I love Healthy Living Market, but I find it frustrating how high their prices are.

    • primalblissnutrition says:

      the prices were just as high at fresh market, but they don’t carry all the items I like from Healthy Living. I hear you, I only get the things I really need at Healthy Living, the rest at Hannaford or the Farmer’s Market.

  4. Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any recommendations for rookie blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

    • primalblissnutrition says:

      Hi Annette,
      Thank you! I really still consider myself a rookie. I just dove right in and learn as I go. I don’t use a fancy camera or take professional photos. I speak my mind. WordPress is still another language to me. You will get there, you just have to dive in and do it.

  5. I agree, I returned to Fresh Market for the first time in several years and still the same story. Not much of a “health food” store compared to some of the other options in our area.

  6. Elaine Rumsey says:

    Develop the habit of reading labels. Never stop reading labels.

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