13 Foods That Aren’t Exactly What You Think They Are

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Many people are aware that processed foods aren’t always the best option. Potato chips versus your own, oven roasted potato wedges? Well, you can’t really compare the two. But at least both are made from potatoes. Or are they?

There are lots of processed foods – that you might have in your kitchen – that is barely food. Take a look at these 13 top offenders.

  1. Parmesan Cheese

Who doesn’t like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of your spaghetti and meatballs? It’s a kitchen staple, whether you’re Italian or not. But be aware that the grated cheese you find in groceries stores throughout the United States is probably not only grated cheese.

In fact, manufacturers use an additive to keep the cheese from clumping, and it’s not cheese! Instead, they use wood pulp to bulk up their product.

Why? Because it’s cheaper and most consumers have no idea. Look for the word, “cellulose” in the ingredient list to determine if the wood pulp is used and how much.

  1. Maple Syrup

This is a delicious, sweet treat for wintery months when high stacks of steaming pancakes hit the table. But true maple syrup comes from the lengthy process of tapping maple trees for this valuable sap.

If your maple syrup isn’t very expensive, chances are, it’s not maple syrup. Or, there isn’t much maple syrup inside. Check the ingredient list for things like high fructose corn syrup that are used to dilute high-quality maple syrup.

  1. Lobster

Lobster is a luxury seafood, and if you purchase it whole and alive from a trusted grocery store, you’re probably getting the real thing.

But if you order lobster at a restaurant, and aren’t paying a pretty penny for it, you’re probably going to eat a lobster imposter, like langostino or whiting.  That’s because it’s cheaper for the restaurants to substitute costly lobster with cheaper substitutes.

  1. Wasabi

When’s the last time you ate sushi? If wasabi was part of your entrée, chances are, it wasn’t true wasabi. This spicy root needs to be grated fresh and keeps its potent flavor for only about 15 to 30 minutes.

Otherwise, it’s a just a processed paste made up of horseradish, green dye, and mustard.

  1. Honey

Who doesn’t keep honey in their kitchen cupboard? It’s perfect for tea, a sweetener in your baking projects and it’s even used in your sweet or savory sauces.

But be sure to check the ingredients. That’s because honey is either diluted with fructose or corn syrup, or there’s no honey at all. To ensure that you’re getting the real thing, look for “honey” and only “honey” on the ingredient list.

If it’s local, even better, and you can usually find high-quality honey in health food stores, cooperatives, or farmer’s markets.

  1. Truffles

Sometimes, people mistakenly think that if they pay more for certain food items, they’re automatically getting higher quality. This isn’t always the case, but when it comes to truffles – don’t be cheap!

They truly are a pricey delicacy. And if you order it in a restaurant, you may be getting a chemical concoction.

Or, if you like to drizzle truffle oil on your pasta or baked potato, just be aware that it’s probably not true truffle but a cheap imitation instead.

  1. Crab

Like lobster, crab is a seafood delicacy that’s usually replaced with something much cheaper. In the case of lobster, it’s usually substituted with humbler crustaceans. So, at least you’re eating some type of whole food. But imitation crab meat is whole other story.

Fish is mashed up until it becomes a white mass. Then, it’s frozen so that it can be shaved into small flakes. This is then mixed with flavors and other ingredients to make it taste like crab.

Finally, some of it is dyed with an orange color derived from insects – not exactly the crab you imagine along the ocean floor, now is it?

  1. Cheese Slices

Parmesan is mixed with wood pulp to keep it from clumping together. With cheese slices, it gets even worse. As always, it’s important to carefully read the packaging and ingredients. If your package of cheese slices doesn’t say “cheese”, chances are it’s full of non-dairy ingredients.

True cheese should be derived from milk, but some “slices” contain things like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, starch, water, whey and natural flavors.

  1. Butter

Butter, especially the type that’s added to your bucket of movie popcorn, or microwavable popcorn, isn’t butter. Some products do contain true butter, but you have to check the ingredient list to be sure. Otherwise, you’re probably eating unhealthy and inflammatory oils like hydrogenated plant oils.

  1. Olive Oil

Did you know that 80 to 85 percent of extra virgin olive oil sold in the United States isn’t really olive oil? That’s because manufacturers dilute or substitute it with other plant oils like canola, soybean, rapeseed, peanut, and sunflower seed oil.

  1. Pringles

We all know that junk food is, well, junk food, but even a bag of oily potato chips is made from potatoes and oil. When it comes to Pringles, think again. Pringles are a manufactured mix of rice, corn, potato flakes and wheat.

During the process, powdered flavors are actually sprayed over the chips. These powdered flavors are made up of unhealthy additives, preservatives, and questionable ingredients. If you are going to eat junk food, it’s better to opt for a bag of real potato chips.

  1. Kobe Beef

Travel writer and foodie, Larry Olmsted told USA Today that while Kobe beef is a prized meat, it’s also very rare outside of Japan. Nonetheless, you’ll find it listed as a cheap entrée on menus across the United States.

So, if you happen to see Kobe beef at your favorite burger restaurant, it’s highly probable that you’re getting a lower quality meat.

  1. Blueberries

Now, if you purchased a cute crate of fresh blueberries in the produce section of your grocery store or at the local farmer’s market, rest assured, your blueberries are legitimate.

But if you purchase baked goods or cooking mixes, like pancake or muffin mixes with “blueberries”, watch out. These little fruits might have been replaced with a long list of ingredients like artificial flavors, food dyes, gums, flours and palm kernel oil.

When you’re purchasing any of these 13 foods, always check the ingredient list to see exactly what’s inside that box or bottle.

Manufacturers have found ways to make tasty imitation foods that are a far cry from their original source, and it’s probably something you don’t want to eat! If you value your health, keep your eye on shady products.

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