Real Food Nutrition

Don’t Waste Food: Give Ugly A Chance

I’ve posted in the past about how food waste is a huge problem around the world. The crazy thing is much of this food is thrown away before it even reaches consumers!

The French supermarket chain, Intermaché has turned this around with an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign that celebrates “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”.

I love the name! I wish more stores would do this, as I’d certainly eat more ‘rejected’ produce, especially if it’s sold at a discount. (If you can’t bring yourself to eat it as is, you can always throw vegetable scraps etc. in your broth). Watch this – and the next time you see a less-than-perfect-looking fruit or vegetable at the market – give it a chance!



Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs (Paleo, Primal, 21DSD & AIP)

This recipe comes from the very talented Alex Boake of Alex Boake Illustration. If you frequent other paleo blogs, you might recognize Alex’s work – one of her most “famous” illustrations is the Poop Parade in Practical Paleo. She’s just plain awesome 🙂 In any case, when Alex offered to draw a recipe of mine in exchange for photographing one of her recipes, I had to say yes! Her stuff is just too much fun, not to want to have something drawn.

I made Alex’s Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs because I had everything I needed on-hand, and I know that many of you are appreciative of an easy dinner recipe. And besides, her illustration really shows off her mad chicken illustration skillz!

This recipe is easy AND tasty. I love that the chicken is baked on top of parsnips or carrots (which are really delicious with the lemon ginger sauce), and I ate my thighs with a quick bacon coleslaw stir-fry. YUM.


Alex Boake’s Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs (Paleo, Primal, 21DSD)
Rating: 5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes


12 chicken thighs
1/4 cup melted butter (for AIP: use lard, tallow or coconut oil)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari sauce
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
12 average parsnips and/or carrots, peeled and halved

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large roasting pan with a lid, put the peeled parsnips and carrots on the bottom of the pan. On top, arrange the chicken thighs skin-up in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together the warm melted butter, the Lemon juice, coconut aminos/tamari sauce, minced ginger, garlic powder and pepper. Pour this mixture evenly over the chicken thighs.
Cook covered for 60 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 15 more minutes. The chicken is done when you cut into it and the juices run clear.
Broil chicken for 10 minutes until skin is crisp.
Plate, served over the parsnips or carrots. Enjoy!


5 Brain Nutrients Found Only in Meat, Fish and Eggs (NOT Plants)

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Kris Gunnars’ site, Authority Nutrition. I agree with what Kris has written, and while I think some people can thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, careful supplementation should be included to avoid deficiencies of the nutrients mentioned below.


The human brain is the most complex object in the universe. It is also the organ that consumes by far the most energy, compared to its weight. The brain is only about 2% of our body weight, but uses 20% of the energy. This remarkable organ has evolved over millions of years. During this time, humans were omnivores. We ate both meat and plants.

There are many nutrients in these foods that are absolutely critical for the proper function of this very delicate system. Unless proper care is taken to supplement, going vegan and eschewing animal foods may lead to a deficiency in some of these important substances.

Here are 5 nutrients that are very important for the brain and only found in animal foods:

1. Vitamin B12

Did you know that not a single population in the history of the world has ever willingly adopted a vegan diet? That’s because before the era of supplements, such a dietary shift would have started killing people within a few years. The most well known vitamin that the body can’t produce and can only be gotten from animal foods, is Vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in the function of every cell in the body. It is tightly involved in the formation of blood and the function of the brain. Deficiency usually results in anemia, impaired brain function, symptoms of mental disorders and a smaller brain (123). There is also evidence linking B12 deficiency to Alzheimer’s Disease, which is the most common cause of dementia in Western countries (45). The only good food sources of B12 are animal foods like meat, fish and eggs.

A deficiency is widespread among vegans and vegetarians, who avoid these foods. In one study, a whopping 92% of vegans and 47% of lacto-ovo vegetarians were deficient in this critical brain nutrient (6). Being deficient in B12 can cause irreversible damage to the brain. If your levels are just slightly lower than they should be, you may have symptoms like poor memory, depression and fatigue (7). So even if you’re not suffering clinical symptoms of B12 deficiency, you may still be less sharp than you should be. If you choose to avoid animal foods, then make sure to supplement with Vitamin B12 or eat foods that have been fortified with it. Algae are a potential plant source of B12, but whether they can be effective at correcting B12 deficiency in humans is not known at this point (89).

Bottom Line: Vitamin B12 is critical for the health of the brain and nervous system and is primarily found in animal foods. A deficiency can cause all sorts of adverse effects on brain function.

2. Creatine

Every athlete, bodybuilder and gym enthusiast knows about creatine. It is the most popular muscle building supplement in the world, for good reason. Scientific studies consistently show that creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass and strength (10).

The way creatine functions is that it forms an energy reserve, where it is able to quickly recycle ATP in our cells. ATP is the “energy currency” of cells, what the energy from our foods and body fat stores ultimately get turned into. During workouts that consume a lot of energy in a short amount of time, creatine gives us more strength and helps us last longer (11).

Creatine is actually not an essential nutrient, because the liver can produce it out of other amino acids. However, this conversion process appears to be inefficient. About 95% of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle. However, creatine is also concentrated in the brain. The same way that our muscles require energy to do work, our brain needs energy to do various things… like thinking.

Vegetarians who take creatine supplements see improvements in cognitive performance, especially in more complex tasks, while there is no difference in non-vegetarians (1213). This implies that vegetarians have a deficiency of creatine that is adversely affecting their brain function. Vegetarians also have a lower amount of creatine in skeletal muscle. Creatine supplements are particularly effective at improving athletic performance in this group (14). If you must avoid meat, consider supplementing with some Creatine Monohydrate. It will definitely make you stronger and may even make you smarter as well.

Bottom Line: Creatine is an important nutrient in muscle and brain that helps to supply energy. Studies show that vegetarians have a deficiency in creatine that leads to adverse effects on muscle and brain function.

3. Vitamin D3

I’m sure you’ve heard of Vitamin D before… it has received massive attention in the past few years. Vitamin D is produced out of cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Today, a large part of the world is deficient in this critical nutrient, which actually functions as a steroid hormone in the body. Many people live where sun is basically absent throughout most of the year. But even in countries where sun is abundant, people tend to stay inside and use sunscreen when they go outside.

There are two main forms of Vitamin D in the diet: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 comes from plants, D3 from animals. Studies show that D3 is much more effective than the plant form (15, 16). There are few good sources of Vitamin D3 in the diet. Cod fish liver oil is the best source. Fatty fish also contains some D3, but you’d have to eat massive amounts of it to satisfy your body’s need.

A deficiency in Vitamin D is linked to all sorts of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer (17, 18, 19). Low blood levels have also been associated with various disorders of the brain, including the autoimmune disease Multiple Sclerosis, depression and cognitive impairment (20, 21, 22). If getting enough sun is not an option, the only way to get D3 from foods is to take cod fish liver oil or eat lots of fatty fish.

The alternative is to take a D3 supplement, which is highly recommended for people who have a diagnosed deficiency.

Bottom Line: A large part of the world is deficient in Vitamin D3, which is only found in animal foods. A deficiency in this critical nutrient is associated with depression and various diseases.

4. Carnosine

Carnosine is a very important nutrient that you may never have heard of before. The prefix Carno- is the latin term for meat or flesh, like Carni-vore (meat eater). It is strictly found in animal tissues, meaning that vegans and vegetarians aren’t getting much, if any, from the diet.

Carnosine is created out of two amino acids and is highly concentrated in both muscle tissue and brain. This substance is very protective against various degenerative processes in the body. It is a potent antioxidant, inhibits glycation caused by elevated blood sugars and may prevent cross-linking of proteins (23, 24, 25). For this reason, Carnosine has become very popular as an anti-agin supplement.

Carnosine levels are significantly lower in patients with various brain disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – the two most common neurodegenerative disorders (26, 27, 28). Many researchers have speculated that animal foods may protect the brain and body against aging due to their large amount of carnosine (29, 30).

Bottom Line: Carnosine is found strictly in animal tissues. This nutrient can reduce damage caused by elevated blood glucose and may have strong anti-aging effects.

5. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Everyone concerned with nutrition knows that Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important. The human body can not make them, therefore we must get them from the diet. This is why Omega-3s (and Omega-6s) are termed “essential” fatty acids – if we don’t eat them, we get sick.

There are two active forms of Omega-3s in the body, EPA and DHA. DHA is the most abundant Omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and it is criticial for normal brain development (31). Low intakes of DHA can adversely affect various aspects of cognitive function and mental health, especially in children (32, 33).

It is also very important for women at a childbearing age, because a woman’s Omega-3 status can have profound effects on the brain of the offspring (34). Many people who avoid animal products supplement with flax seed oil instead, which is a great source of ALA… a plant form of Omega-3. However, ALA needs to be converted to DHA for it to work. Studies show that this conversion process is notoriously ineffective in humans (35). For this reason, vegans and vegetarians are very likely to be deficient in this very important fatty acid (36, 37). The best source of DHA is fatty fish. Other good sources include grass-fed and pastured animal products. There are also some algae that can produce EPA and DHA.

Bottom Line: The Omega-3 fatty acid DHA is critical for proper function of the brain. It is primarily found in animal foods like fatty fish. Studies show that vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in it.

Just Eat Some Animals

Humans evolved eating both animals and plants. However, we can function in some cases without either. The Inuit, for example, survived mostly without plants, but they had to compensate by eating lots of organ meats. In the 21st century, people can survive and function without animal foods if they make sure to supplement with critical nutrients. Before the era of supplementation, completely removing animal foods would have lead to a slow and painful death due to B12 deficiency. But even though functioning without either plants or animals is possible… neither is optimal.

In the same way that a meat-based diet is healthier with a little bit of plants, a plant-based diet is healthier with a little bit of animals. I highly recommend that people who choose to avoid meat for ethical reasons (because there is NO proven healh reason) at least include some eggs and fatty fish. A little bit goes a long way and it is possible to choose natural, humanely raised sources.

But to those who really decide to remove all animal foods from their diet… make sure to be very prudent about your diet and supplement, or you may end up very sick with a poorly functioning brain.


This is your brain on sugar

Anyone who has ever had to look after a group of children after the cake was served at a birthday party probably has a good idea sugar certainly has some effect on the brain.

But it’s not just desserts and sweets that contain sugar – starchy foods also get quickly broken down into sugar by amylases in your saliva. And, if you check the ingredient label of any processed food, you’re sure to find ingredients that end in -ose (sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose etc.).

The little video from TED Ed, illustrates the effect sugar has on the brain – and no, it’s not about the hyperactivity illustrated by the kids – it’s all about addiction and why you keep wanting to go back for more. If you can relate to the addictive power of sugar and you’re looking to beat your sugar cravings, you’ll want to check out Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox videos too. Diane is the author of Practical Paleo, the book I most often recommend to anyone curious about going Paleo or removing grains from their diet. Diane’s video series is free to view, but you will need to subscribe via email first.


75+ Real Food Zucchini Recipes

It’s summer, it’s hot, and gardeners everywhere are rejoicing in their bounties! But what happens if you’ve got, uh… too much of a good thing going on? Just in time for August 8th – National Zucchini Day (yes, it’s a thing!), I’ve got this collection of zucchini recipes that will help you get some variety in preparing this summer squash!

I don’t actually grow zucchini myself because our little garden doesn’t seem to be too ideal for them for some reason (or it could be my black thumb). Thankfully though, I do have neighbors who gift us with zucchinis every year! Lots and lots of zucchinis.

All of these recipes are made with real food, gluten-free ingredients. Some recipes may contain dairy, legumes, gluten-free grains like millet or corn, and many other recipes are Paleo or even Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. In any case, there’s certainly enough here to inspire you to do something with everyone’s favorite bumper crop.

Sauces, dips and condiments

Macazu Sauce! – Grok Grub

Balsamic Hummus – Peace, Love and Low Carb

Raw Zucchini Hummus – Oh, The Things We’ll Make!

Zucchini Hamburger Relish – Attainable Sustainable

Lactofermented Curried Squash and Zucchini – Delicious Obsessions

Chunky Parmesan Zucchini Dip – Raia’s Recipes

Zucchini Hummus – Healing Cuisine by Elise

Interesting/Unusual and if you try this you have to let me know

Dairy-fre, Nut-free Zucchini Cheese – Gutsy By Nature

Carob Zucchini Milk Shake – Raia’s Recipes

Good for Breakfast

Poached Eggs Over Zucchini Hash – The Organic Kitchen

Breakfast Hash with Poached Eggs – The Organic Kitchen

Cheesy Zucchini Egg Pie – Nummy For My Tummy

Egg & Zucchini Breakfast Toastada – Beauty and the Foodie

Zucchini Coconut Almond Meal Porridge Recipe – Good Food Eating

Savory dishes

Roasted Mushrooms, Zucchini and Eggplant with Rosemary – Peace, Love and Low Carb

Zucchini Stir-Fry with Curry Leaves – My Heart Beets

Paleo Stuffed Summer Squash – Gutsy By Nature

Zucchini Boats – Paleo Kitchen Lab

Corn, Zucchini, Sweet Potato Fritters – If Your Body Could Talk

Simple Oven-Baked Zucchini – Oh Snap Let’s Eat!

Zucchini Pancakes – Healing, Yoga and Qigong

Grilled Zucchini – The Organic Kitchen

Zucchini, Corn, and Leek Pizza – Farm Fresh Feasts

Rustic Summer Squash Frittata – Recipes to Nourish

Zucchini, Squash, and Onions – Delicious Obsessions

Scalloped Zucchini and Crookneck Squash – Raia’s Recipes

Eggs and Veggies – A Simple Breakfast – Economies of Kale

Sicilian Style Grilled Vegetables – The Paleo Network

Zucchini Cakes – Mary Vance, NC

Lamb Kefta Tagine with Zucchini – Cinnamon Eats

Zucchini & Mushroom Crumble – Healing Cuisine by Elise

Pan-roasted Cauliflower & Zucchini – Popular Paleo


Hearty Minestrone Soup – The Nourishing Home

Cream of Asparagus, Celery, and Zucchini Soup – Delicious Obsessions

Southwestern Zucchini Soup – Savory Lotus

“Noodle” dishes

Most of the following ‘noodle’ dishes involve making long strands of zucchini using a vegetable spiralizer (one of my favorite kitchen toys, I highly recommend it). This is the one I have, but you can also make ‘noodles’ using a regular vegetable peeler.

Rainbow Vegetable Noodles – Peace, Love and Low Carb

Mediterranean “Pasta” – Peace, Love and Low Carb

Garlic Thyme Squash Noodles – Peace, Love and Low Carb

Pasta Salad – Raising Generation Nourished

Asian Zucchini Noodles – Oh, The Things We’ll Make!

Baked Zucchini Lasagna – Conveying Awareness

Zucchini Noodles and Creamy Parmesan Sauce – Simply Healthy Home

Slow Cooker Chicken Marinara with Basil Zucchini Noodles – Happy Healthnut

Paleo Asian-Style Noodle Bowl with Turkey Meatballs – Happy Healthnut

Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes and Ginger – The Organic Kitchen

Zucchini Noodles with Cranberries and Walnuts – The Organic Kitchen

Stir-Fry Veggie Noodles – The Nourishing Home

Sesame Zucchini Noodles – Zenbelly

Zoodles with Peas and Pesto – Zenbelly

Farmers Market Zoodles – Colorful Eats

Goat Cheese Chicken Alfredo – Colorful Eats

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini Noodles – Savory Lotus

Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Cream Sauce – Running to the Kitchen

Zucchini Noodles with Caper Olive Sauce and Fresh Tomatoes – Gourmande in the Kitchen

Italian Sausage ‘Fettuccine’ – Paleo in PDX

Garlicky Zoodles with Slivered Almonds – Life Made Full

Zucchini Pasta Chicken Salad – Healing Cuisine by Elise

Paleo Rice (Non-Cauliflower) – Predominantly Paleo

Creamy Chicken Alfredo – Healing Cuisine by Elise

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce Recipe – Paleo Cupboard

Cold, raw or salad dishes

Raw Zucchini Nest Lasagna – Jar O Honey

Zucchini Bread Dippers – Jar O Honey

Zucchini Ribbon Salad – Oh Snap Let’s Eat!

Zucchini Carpaccio – Happy Healthnut

Spinach and Herb Cauliflower Couscous Stuffed Zucchini – Gourmande in the Kitchen


Baked Zucchini Chips – Oh Snap Let’s Eat!

Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Chips – Happy Mothering

Gluten-Free Zucchini Muffin in a Mug – Simply Healthy Home

Zucchini Fries – Delicious Obsessions

Grain-free Tempura Zucchini – Predominantly Paleo

Salty Zucchini Chips – Life Made Full

Desserts & Baked Goods

Buttermilk Carob Zucchini Cake – Raia’s Recipes

Coconut Bread with Zucchini – Healing, Yoga and Qigong

Organic Chocolate Zucchini Bread – Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins – Life Made Full

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread – Healing Cuisine by Elise

Grain Free Chocolate Zucchini Bread – Real Food Outlaws


Not enough zucchini recipes for you? If you’re still stuck blessed with more zucchini than you know what to do with, celebrate National Zucchini Day (aka Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night). And if they’re stuck for an idea of what to do with it, just send them here! 😉


8 creepy things about food – and what to do to avoid them

I fell down the internet hole known as Buzzfeed and found this video that will creep you out about 8 “food” products. I purposely put “food” in quotation marks because these products are certainly edible, but it doesn’t mean you should be eating them.

Watch the video and see what I mean!

How do you avoid these creepy foods?
The first three facts are about meat products, and it’s why you should source your meat from quality sources. Grass-fed beef is not only better for you, but better for the environment as well. Buy your meat products from farmers who can tell you about how their chickens, pigs and cattle were raised.
Your are what what you eat eats
It comes down to this: Know where your food comes from. Know your farmers. Know your food suppliers. Know your food producers. (And go read In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan). It might mean that you might have to pay more for your food to buy quality ingredients to cook with, but if you think about it, every single cell of your body is built by what you fuel it with: your food. Why aren’t we, as a society putting more importance on the quality of our food sources? All of the creepy facts shown in the video can be avoided if you know where your food comes from.

Read more:

Make your own probiotic foods, fearlessly!

Even if you’re not immersed in the realm of ‘real food’ or natural health, you’ll know that there are plenty of commercial yogurt companies trying to sell you on their products based on the billions of good bacteria it has. Not sure what the benefits of good bacteria are? Read about “Good bacteria, best probiotics and what they can do for you”, and come back! While it might seem obvious then that probiotics will help to heal your leaky gut, their benefits can actually extend beyond gut health. For example, they can help in less obvious ways such as with depression, congestion, acne, immune health, and allergies.

It seems that when you mention probiotics, most people will think of yogurt. While yogurt can be a great source of probiotic bacteria, they can be problematic if you can’t tolerate any dairy, and many of these are loaded with sugar. Other foods, such as kimchi or sauerkraut can be full of good bacteria if you make them yourself. However, be aware that commercial versions are often pasteurized, effectively killing the bacteria, and removing any of the probiotic benefit.

While at first it seems a little daunting, it turns out that making your own probiotic, fermented foods is relatively easy! I know this because well, I used to think that it was worth the exorbitant amount for unpasteurized sauerkraut purchased from the healthfood store, when it turns out with some basic equipment (a mason jar, a knife, a cutting board, a funnel), and some time, you can do it yourself for a lot less money.

If you’re looking for somewhere to get started in making your own probiotic foods, I highly recommend Sarah Ramsden’s Fearless Fermentation course. Seriously, beyond her actually being in the kitchen with you and holding your hand as you chop cabbage (okay, that’s not actually an efficient way to work), Sarah’s videos have finally gotten me over my fear of the possibility of mouldy cabbage sitting on my counter. In fact, I’m in the process of trying to make Sarah’s Apple Raisin Sauerkraut (one of the more advanced recipes included with the Sauerkraut course).

Sarah walks you through making your first batch of sauerkraut, kombucha (or both) in a series of easy-to-follow videos. In addition to the video access, you also get a set of recipes, a journal to keep track of where you are in the fermentation stage and a troubleshooting guide that helps you figure out if your SCOBY is supposed to look like that?! If that’s not enough help, Sarah’s also got an online discussion group that’ll help with any questions you have along the way.

What you’ll notice with all of the materials is that Sarah has really put her passion about probiotics into this product. The accompanying PDF guides are all beautifully designed with photographs to illustrate the finer details of fermentation. My favorite thing about both the sauerkraut and the kombucha courses is that they both include a journal so that you can write down where you’re at with your fermentation and track when you’ve burped the jar! (Don’t know what I meant in that last sentence, well then clearly you need this fermentation course!)

If you’ve been looking for a way to get all the benefits of probiotics without spending a lot of money on fermented foods, or supplements, I highly recommend Sarah’s course. I love being able to make my own probiotic foods now for both the savings, and the ability to customize them based on my family’s tastes and preferences. Go forth and ferment… fearlessly!


Top 11 “Health Foods” That Can Kill You

Nutrition is full of nonsense. You will find bold health claims for all kinds of foods, most often based on zero evidence. Here are the top 11 “health foods” that are actually very harmful.

1. Fruit Juices
The fruit juices you find at the supermarket aren’t always what they seem. They may have small amounts of real fruit in them, but often they are little more than water, artificial flavor and sugar. But even if you’re drinking real fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.

Fruit juice is like fruit with most of the good stuff removed. All that is left is the sugar and a few vitamins. Orange juice, for example, contains the same amount of sugar as Coca Cola. There’s no fiber in it, no chewing resistance and nothing to stop you from downing massive amounts of sugar in a short amount of time.

Eating too much sugar is associated with all sorts of diseases. These include obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many others (1, 2, 3). It is much better to avoid fruit juices and eat real fruits instead.

Bottom Line: Most fruit juices contain the same amount of easily digestible sugar as sugar-sweetened soft drinks. It is best to eat whole fruits instead.

2. Whole Wheat
It is true that whole wheat is healthier than refined wheat. But this does NOT mean that whole wheat is healthy. It’s kind of like saying that because filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes, everyone should be smoking filtered cigarettes. It’s flawed logic.

There are plenty of good reasons to avoid wheat… both the refined and the whole variety. For example, wheat is the main source of gluten in the diet and a large part of the population may be gluten sensitive (4, 5, 6).

The immune system of susceptible individuals attacks the gluten proteins in the digestive tract. This can cause damage to the lining of the digestive tract, pain, bloating, tiredness, stool inconsistency and other nasty symptoms (7, 8, 9). One study shows that wheat fiber can make you Vitamin D deficient, making you burn through your stores of this important vitamin much faster (10).

Another study shows that whole wheat raises small, dense LDL (the truly “bad” cholesterol) by a whopping 60% (11).

Bottom Line: Whole wheat is rich in gluten and can cause digestive problems and various symptoms. It may also cause Vitamin D deficiency and elevated small, dense LDL cholesterol.

3. Agave Nectar
In the health food isle at the supermarket, you will definitely find some “sugar-free” products that are sweetened with Agave. This sweetener is touted as a healthy alternative to sugar because it is natural has a low glycemic index. But the harmful effects of sugar have little to do with its glycemic index, it is harmful primarily because it is loaded with unnatural amounts of fructose.

Too much fructose in the diet can cause all sorts of problems, especially in people who don’t exercise much. All fructose is metabolized by the liver. If the liver is full of glycogen the fructose will be turned into fat (11, 12). This can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and all kinds of metabolic problems like resistance to the hormones insulin and leptin, which will ultimately lead to obesity and diabetes (13, 14, 15, 16).

While regular sugar is 50% fructose, the fructose content of Agave is as high as 90%. If anything, agave is even worse than sugar!

Bottom Line: Agave nectar is loaded with fructose and therefore causes all the same problems as regular sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup.

4. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks were designed for athletes who have just finished an intense training session with massive sweating and glycogen depletion. For this reason, sports drinks contain:

Water – to replenish lost fluid.
Electrolytes – to replenish electrolytes like sodium that were lost via sweat.
Sugar – because athletes need energy after an intense workout.
You don’t need any additional electrolytes unless you’ve been doing a very intense workout and most people are already eating too much sugar. One bottle of Gatorade contains over 30 grams of sugar. You’re better off sticking to plain water, which you should certainly drink plenty of, especially around workouts.

Bottom Line: If you’re not doing super intense workouts, then you should avoid sports drinks. They are not needed and contain sugar.

5. “Heart-Healthy” Vegetable Oils
Vegetable Oils

As the fear of saturated fat took hold of the world, consumption of all kinds of nasty ingredients increased. Prime examples are industrial seed- and vegetable oils like soybean, corn and cottonseed oil. These oils are extracted from seeds using very harsh processing methods and include high heat, bleaching and the toxic solvent hexane. These oils contain very large amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids, way more than humans ever consumed throughout evolution.

We need small amounts of these fatty acids in the diet, such as the amounts found in meat and nuts. However, if we eat way too much like is the case with Western populations, this causes problems (17). Eating too much of these fats can lead to inflammation, which is a leading cause of many chronic diseases (18). These oils get incorporated into our body fat stores and cellular membranes, where they are highly sensitive to oxidation and damage. To top it all off, the industrial vegetable oils that you find in the supermarket contain 0.56-4.2% of their fatty acid as trans fats, which are highly toxic (19).

(This does not apply to olive oil, which is good for you!)

Bottom Line: Vegetable oils are unhealthy and lead to inflammation. They are potential key players in the epidemic of Western diseases.

6. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Foods
It ain’t the fat, people! Despite the last decades of propaganda against saturated fats, they have now been proven to be harmless (20, 21). When the anti-fat message first came out, food manufacturers started producing “healthy” products that were low-fat or fat-free.

The only problem is that foods that have had the fat removed taste like crap. The food manufacturers then loaded their products with chemicals, artificial sweeteners and massive amounts of sugar. What they basically did was remove the good stuff (fat) and replace it with bad stuff (sugar). This is how they managed to turn perfectly healthy foods like yogurt into very harmful products filled with unhealthy ingredients.

Bottom Line: Avoid everything labelled “low-fat” or “fat-free.” These are highly processed products loaded with sugar and other harmful substances.

7. Gluten-Free Junk Foods
Many people have started to avoid gluten… a protein found in wheat, spelt, rye and barley (and a few other grains). Almost a third of the U.S. population currently wants to cut back on gluten or go gluten-free.

Food manufacturers have caught up on the trend and have started offering all sorts of gluten-free “health foods.” The problem with these foods is that they’re usually not healthy at all. Instead of a gluten grain, they’re made with other starches like potato starch, tapioca starch or some others. These starches are usually highly refined, void of nutrients and spike blood sugar fast, just like wheat. But these products are often also loaded with sugar and other harmful or artificial chemicals.

This does NOT apply to foods that are naturally gluten free, like meats or vegetables. If a product says “gluten-free” on the package, then it’s probably bad for you.

Bottom Line: Gluten-free foods are highly processed foods that are not much healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts. It’s best to avoid them.

8. Margarine And Fake Butters

“I wish butter tasted more like margarine, said nobody ever.” – Danny J. Albers

Another side effect of the anti-fat histeria is a plethora of so-called “healthy” butter alternatives. The most notable example of these is margarine. It used to be loaded with trans fats, now it tends to contain processed vegetable oils instead.

Butter consumption went down, margarine consumption went up. The problem with this is that butter is healthy. Margarine is NOT.

Grass-fed butter, in particular, is an excellent source of the fatty acid butyrate and Vitamin K2, both of which can have powerful positive effects on health (22, 23). Margarine is a processed food with harmful ingredients that can make you sick. In one large study, replacing butter with margarine lead to a drastically increased risk of death from heart attacks (24).

This is one great example of where blindly following the mainstream advice can put you in an early grave.

Bottom Line: Margarine is a processed food that contains unhealthy, artificial ingredients. Avoid it, use real grass-fed butter instead.

9. Energy Bars
Energy bars are in the same boat as sports drinks – most people don’t need them. If you’re an elite athlete who desperately needs to keep protein intake high and eat every 2-3 hours, then these bars can definitely be convenient.

However, most people don’t need to eat that often and these bars don’t contain anything that you can’t get from real foods. Energy bars and protein bars are often highly processed products. Even though they may be higher in protein than chocolate bars, they often still contain the same unhealthy ingredients.

Sugar, white flour, artificial flavor… you name it, they’ve got it. Of course, there are some healthier brands available, but if you want to avoid the crap then you must read labels! If you’re starving and far away from home, then healthier types of energy bars can certainly be better than a burger and a coke, but your money is still better spent on real foods.

Bottom Line: Energy and protein bars are often highly processed products. Most people don’t need them and they tend to contain sugar and other nasty ingredients.

10. Low Carb Junk Foods
Atkins Bar

As people have changed their mind on fat being the root of all evil, some people have started cutting back on carbs instead. Again, food manufacturers have caught notice and brought all sorts of low-carb junk foods to the market. Even though something is low in carbs and can help you lose weight, it may still be very unhealthy. Great examples are the low-carb Atkins bars. These are nasty, highly processed products that nobody should be eating. Just check out the ingredients list for this Atkins Advantage bar. This isn’t food.

If you’re going to do a low-carb diet, stick to real, unprocessed foods.

Bottom Line: There are some low-carb processed foods on the market that are extremely unhealthy and loaded with artificial ingredients.

11. “Healthy” Breakfast Cereals
Most highly processed breakfast cereals are not healthy. In fact, they are among the worst foods you can eat. They’re often loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates. Then the manufacturers fortify them with some synthetic vitamins and put tiny amounts of whole grains in the mix, then market their products as healthy.

Don’t be fooled by the labels… low-fat, fat-free, whole grain, etc. Just check the ingredients list on these products, they’re usually loaded with sugar. Starting the day with a high-sugar cereal will set you up for a blood sugar crash later in the day, followed by hunger, cravings and another high-carb meal.

12. Anything Else?
If the packaging of a food tells you that it is healthy, then it probably isn’t. Feel free to add to the list in the comments!

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An easy solution to America’s BIGGEST problem

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