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Food Babe Investigates: Frozen Yogurt Gone Bad

This is a guest post by Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) who is a regular contributor on 100 Days of Real Food. To learn more about Vani check her out on “Our Team” page.

Before you start the enjoying the hot weather and cool treats this summer – there’s something I have to tell you, but you first have to promise not to kill the messenger (me!).

Commercially available frozen yogurt is one of the most processed food products on the planet!

Yes – you heard that right – that creamy, low calorie, probiotic promised goodness swirled into your cup and topped with your favorite goodies is one of the worst “healthy” fads to hit the franchise market, and I’m here to tell you the cold hard facts (ha! – no pun intended).

Frozen yogurt is made with several components:
(Unlike real yogurt that is made with just two ingredients – milk + cultures)

  • milk solids, processed milk product (like powdered or condensed milk) and/or milk fat
  • some kind of refined sweetener – usually a few different kinds like evaporated cane syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, etc.
  • yogurt culture (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are common cultures)
  • natural or artificial flavorings
  • natural or artificial coloring
  • sometimes trans fat
  • sometimes preservatives
  • stabilizers and thickeners like guar gum or carrageenan
  • other fillers like cellulose gum (a.k.a. the stuff made from wood pulp)

Before the mixture is frozen into an edible product, the yogurt ingredients come in a big box of pre-made liquid or powder. This is very similar to how most fast food franchises obtain their products – in a box or a carton pre-made, pre-mixed, heavily processed and preserved. In fact, most frozen yogurt companies buy their formula mix from the same manufacturer and at a very cheap cost, about 10 cents per serving – and sell it to you for a 500% markup! To witness just how processed frozen yogurt can be, I challenge you to go over to your favorite frozen yogurt joint and ask them how they make their yogurt. They’ll show you the pre-packaged liquid or powder they mix with water that they throw right into the machine – pre-packed liquid that looks NOTHING like yogurt and more like kool-aid, depending on the flavor in a plastic jug. It’s a rather disgusting sight to tell you the truth, and an exercise I conduct on occasion to remind myself not to eat that stuff.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular brands of yogurt available and what they contain.

Guar gum is an ingredient that is used in all the brands featured below (Pinkberry, Menchies, Yogurt Mountain, TCBY, Red Mango and Yoforia) that you may have heard of and wondered about. It comes from ground up guar beans, which technically aren’t bad for you, but when highly processed into gum it can contain an extraordinary amount of soluble fiber that can reduce the absorption of important vitamins and minerals in your body 1. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg considering what’s really in these frozen yogurt products…

Red text indicates potentially harmful ingredients and/or ingredients likely to contain GMOs.

Red text indicates potentially harmful ingredients and/or ingredients likely to contain GMOs.

Continue Reading »

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Food Babe Investigates Stevia: Good or Bad?

This is a guest post by Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) who is a regular contributor on 100 Days of Real Food. To learn more about Vani check her out on “Our Team” page.

Sugar is one of the most dangerous ingredients on the market. It’s addictive, added to almost every processed food, and will make you overweight, depressed and sick if you eat too much. In fact, Americans eat close to 130 pounds of the stuff per person per year (4 times more than the recommended daily allowance), likely because it is so addictive. That’s why it’s exciting to know there are alternative sweeteners made in nature, like “stevia,” that don’t wreak havoc on your health – or do they? That’s what I went on a quest to find out. Here’s what happened…



What Is Stevia?

Stevia Plant

Stevia Plant

For those of you that are hearing about stevia for the first time, it is a plant that is typically grown in South America, and while its extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar, it does not raise blood insulin levels. That’s what makes it so popular. However in 1991 the FDA refused to approve this substance for use due to pressure from makers of artificial sweeteners like Sweet n’ Low and Equal (a one billion dollar industry). But in 2008, the FDA approved the use of rebaudioside compounds that were derived from the stevia plant by Coca-Cola (Cargill) and PepsiCo – hmmm doesn’t that sound suspicious? Not until a major food company got involved did stevia become legal, and only after it had been highly processed using a patentable chemical-laden process…so processed that Truvia (Coca-Cola’s branded product) goes through about 40 steps to process the extract from the leaf, relying on chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens (substances that cause cancer), and none of those ingredients sound like real food, do they? Continue Reading »

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Food Babe Investigates: How Food Companies Exploit Americans with Ingredients Banned in Other Countries

Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) is a regular contributor on 100 Days of Real Food. To learn more about Vani check her out on “Our Team” page.

Thoughts of outrage, unfairness, disbelief, and ultimately grief consumed me while I was doing this investigation. A list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for use here in the American food supply recently made news. While I have written about some of those ingredients before, this list inspired me to look a little deeper and find out how pervasive this issue is for us. Could these banned ingredients be contributing to the higher mortality and disease rates here in the U.S.?

The health of Americans is downright grim according to a report just released by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. It declares “Americans are sicker and die younger than other people in wealthy nations.” The United States spends 2.5 times more on health care than any other nation, however, when compared with 16 other nations we come in dead last in terms of health and life expectancy for men and near the bottom for women.

Here is the breakdown for you:

  • More than two thirds of United States citizens are overweight – 33% being obese.
  • 32% of children are either obese or overweight.
  • 43% of Americans are projected to be obese in 10 years.
  • After smoking, obesity is America’s biggest cause of premature death and is linked to 70% of heart disease and 80% of diabetes cases.
  • And 41% of Americans are projected to get cancer in their lifetime!

These reports and statistics scream the word HELP! Continue Reading »

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Food Babe Investigates: Is Your Protein Shake Safe?

Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) is a regular contributor on 100 Days of Real Food. To learn more about Vani check her out on “Our Team” page.

Protein shakes, powders, and supplements are incredibly popular with the health conscious crowd. Considering what typical protein shakes promise – sleek muscles, weight loss and a quick, easy “healthy” meal replacement – it’s logical to see why. Unfortunately, the food industry is making an absolute killing (maybe literally) selling ones that are filled with highly processed denatured proteins, chemicals, preservatives and other additives. There’s one thing in common for all of them – they are all processed and deciding on whether or not they are actually “real food” comes into question. Now not all processed things we put in our body are technically bad for us – but understanding what exactly is in your protein shake is critical to deciding whether to consume it, select an alternative, or discontinue use all together.

Below is a summary chart of the ingredients in popular protein shakes and powders:


 “?” indicates protein supplement has not been tested or proven to have that specific ingredient


We’ve discussed GMO’s here, Artificial Colors here, Carrageenan here, Antibiotics here, and rBGH here before so I won’t go into them again in detail specifically. Regardless, you should know consuming a protein drink with any of those ingredients is a risk to your health and if you don’t know why – please read up on those past posts to learn more. Continue Reading »

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Food Babe Investigates: Death by Chocolate?

This is a guest post by Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe).

15 dollars for 8 pieces of chocolate….?! That’s all I could think about on a recent trip to the mall while walking past the famous chocolatier, Godiva. I mean 15 dollars for 8 pieces of what? What is Godiva doing that make these chocolates so much more expensive than other brands of chocolate? Is it handcrafted? No. Is it made with organic milk and cream? No. What about real pure cane sugar? No. It must have real vanilla? No! (They actually use artificial vanilla made from a wood by-product!) And they obviously do not package their chocolate in a box made of real gold. So what is it?

It is marketing, marketing, marketing and trickery at its best!

Godiva chocolate has been tricking many of us for years into believing that paying a premium for chocolate means you are getting higher quality treats, but this can’t be further from the truth! Take a look at the ingredients in one of their chocolates and you’ll quickly realize what they’re selling are fancy-looking cheap ingredients wrapped up in a pretty gold box. How are they getting away with this? And what about all the other popular chocolate brands, are they selling us junk ingredients too? Continue Reading »

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Food Babe Investigates: What to Watch out for at Whole Foods

Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) is a regular contributor on 100 Days of Real Food. To learn more about Vani check out “Our Team” page.

If I could give one piece of health advice to everyone I meet I’d ask them to shop in a place where they can get the best quality groceries and produce available. Changing where I shop has been fundamental in changing my health for the better.

However, going to the grocery store – even natural ones – can be really daunting, especially if you are trying to avoid processed foods. Whole Foods Market stores, known for their organic and natural options, are popping up everywhere…we even got one here in my hometown just last month. People inherently trust Whole Foods because their marketing is almost spotless. Whole Foods emotionalizes the shopping experience with visions of abundant good-for-you-eats the moment you walk in the store. They greet you with an array of fresh flowers that immediately invokes a state of freshness, and the high quality standards are touted to easily make anyone believe they are shopping at the best place possible.

Whole Foods has a laundry list of chemicals, preservatives and additives they do not allow in their stores that should alleviate most of your worries – an “unacceptable” list of ingredients that I highly endorse and wish every grocery store followed (albeit, it’s missing a couple of items). Typical wholesalers and conventional supermarkets are stocked with so many questionable chemicals and ingredients it makes my head spin. This is why I’ve pretty much stopped going to conventional grocery stores all together – it’s just too exhausting to have to avoid all the chemical additives they let into their stores and to have to constantly scrutinize their ingredients.

Whole Foods is far superior to conventional grocery stores in terms of what they don’t allow in their stores, however I uncovered some facts that will shock even the most savvy consumer. Continue Reading »