16 Surprisingly Dangerous Foods You Buy at the Health Food Store

Posted on April 10, 2017 by


by Jess Bolluyt

When you shop at the health food store, it’s easy to think everything on the shelves is healthy. But processed foods contain tons of preservatives, no matter where you buy them. And some ostensibly healthy foods have fewer health benefits than you think. The fact that your local health food store chooses to stock an item doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for you and your family to eat.

Do you know which foods to steer clear of the next time you’re at the health food store? You might find it surprising that some of the foods you buy offer fewer health benefits than you thought. And some of them can even harm you. Read on to find out which foods you should stop buying at the health food store.

1. Agave

Agave sounds like a healthy, natural substitute for refined sugar. You can probably find it at your local health food store, particularly in the form of agave nectar. But The Kitchn reports this alternative sweetener might be just as unhealthy as high-fructose corn syrup.

Agave nectar isn’t actually a nectar. In fact, it’s processed in much the same way as high-fructose corn syrup. It doesn’t come from the sap of the yucca or agave plant. Instead, it comes from the starch of the root bulb. It goes through a complex refining process that converts the starch and fiber into fructose.

Agave syrup can cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, and insulin resistance. (That on its own can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.) Plus, agave nectar contains high quantities of a chemical called saponin, which might cause miscarriages.

2. Whole grain foods

Processed foods still carry risks, even if they’re labeled “natural” or “organic” and sold at the health food store. For instance, plenty of companies make packaged “whole grain” foods that actually lack heart-healthy fiber.

According to Scientific American, “Many foods legally marketed as whole grains could actually harm your health.” The term “whole grain” refers to “any mixture of bran, endosperm, and germ in the proportions one would expect to see in an intact grain — yet the grains can be, and usually are, processed so that the three parts are separated and ground before being incorporated into foods.”

Compared with intact grains, processed whole grains have lower fiber and nutrient levels. Plus, your body absorbs the sugar from processed while grains quickly. That triggers blood sugar spikes that increase hunger, lead to overeating, and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

3. Sprouts

Sprouts add a delicious crunch to salads and sandwiches. But they might be one of the riskiest items in your health food store’s produce aisle. As FoodSafety.gov reports, any fresh produce that you consume raw or lightly cooked carries a risk of foodborne illness. But “unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.”

Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with sprouts. Even homegrown sprouts aren’t necessarily safer than store-bought sprouts. So the FDA recommends children, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system should avoid eating raw sprouts.

4. Yogurt

Most of us think of yogurt as a healthy snack. But The Huffington Post warns that according to scientists, yogurt might not be quite as healthy as you assume. The Harvard School of Public Health found expectant moms who ate a serving of low-fat yogurt each day were more likely to have kids with allergies or asthma.

And Livestrong notes according to other studies, probiotic yogurts can cause minor side effects — such as gas or an upset stomach — or in rare cases, a serious infection. Plus, added sugar and calories make some yogurts a less healthy snack than you might think.

5. Raw milk

Many people love raw milk. It has a creamy texture. And something that’s “raw” sounds pretty healthy. But the United States Food and Drug Administration advises against purchasing raw milk. Because it doesn’t undergo the pasteurization process to kill bacteria, raw milk can contain dangerous microorganisms. According to the CDC, these microorganisms made 1,500 people sick between 1993 and 2006. Plus, the public health organization reports that “u. npasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.”

6. Rice and rice-based foods

Whether you want to cut down on gluten or just prefer rice to wheat, your health food store probably offers plenty of options for rice and rice-based foods. But you should think twice before loading up your cart. NPR reports there’s likely arsenic in your rice. And “there are no federal limits for the amount of arsenic that’s acceptable in food.” So we don’t know if eating arsenic at the levels that are found in rice and rice products is a problem.

Brown rice tends to have more arsenic than white rice. But levels vary depending on where (and when) the rice was grown. Arsenic in drinking water can cause thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis, and blindness. It can also increase your risk of bladder and other cancers.


© 2017 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties.

Posted in: Family safety