This post was co-written by Lisa Hugh MSHS RD LDN CLT and Gabrielle McPherson MS, RDN, LDN.
10 Reasons To Choose Single Ingredient Foods
Shopping for a can of beans doesn’t sound challenging. But a challenge arose for a recent client who was shopping for canned beans at her local grocery store. She has several kids at home and a food assisted budget. To her disappointment, the most affordable canned beans she could find had EDTA listed as an ingredient.
But why? What is that? She thought. Shouldn’t it just be beans and water? That was my thought as I listened to her story.
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A Common Experience
Due to limitations within the parameters of food assistance, she had to get a bag of dried beans instead — a single ingredient food. She knew the amount of time needed to soak the beans in order for them to be ready for cooking outweighed the uncertainty of the unfamiliar ingredients she would be allowing her family to consume in those canned beans.
You’ve encountered this, right? You find a product on the shelf of a store you normally go to. You remove the product from the shelf and proceed to turn it around to check the nutrition facts label and ingredient list. Suddenly, you’re faced with an ingredient list that seems to be growing longer as you read it — while your frustration and confusion grow right along with it.
A long ingredient list may elicit fear of the product. There may also be a lack of trust in the food product and skepticism of its safety.
This may create anxiety for you if you have a food allergy, food sensitivity, food intolerance or even a nutrition-related chronic disease.
The consumption of allergen ingredients can be life-threatening for some. All you want are honest ingredients that will easily fit into the special diet you follow.
Purchasing Single Ingredient Foods Is For You
Here are ten reasons to eat single ingredient foods.
1. No Hidden Ingredients
No hidden ingredients mean no hidden fillers, binders, preservatives and no hassles with reading food labels.
You’ll lose the hard to pronounce ingredients and gain peace of mind knowing exactly what you’re depositing into your body.
2. No Hidden Allergens
You may be currently suffering from an unknown food allergy, food intolerance or food sensitivity. It may be taking an extended amount of time to determine what exactly is causing you problems.
Choosing single ingredient groceries makes it easier to identify the food that is causing problems. This will make murky waters more clear when monitoring your symptoms or doing an elimination diet.
3. No Added Sugar
“Added sugar hides in 74% of packaged foods,” (1).
Single-ingredient groceries won’t leave you guessing which ingredient is providing added sugar. There are 61 names that exist for sugar (2).
4. Easy Diet Inclusion
You may eat gluten free due to a diagnosis of Celiac disease. Maybe your LEAP test results came back positive for a sensitivity to sulfites. If you don’t have complications eating certain foods, you may choose to follow plant based, paleo, keto, or vegan or vegetarian diets. Maybe you don’t eat specific foods for religious or ethical reasons.
No matter what kind of tailored diet you follow to improve your health, choosing single ingredient foods will make it easier to adopt them into your diet. There is no grey area when it comes to single ingredient foods.
5. Gives Power To Make Informed Choices
Following a specific diet can feel very limiting at times. It may also feel isolating. It’s easier to become fixated on the foods you cannot have. Selecting single ingredient foods can help you shift your mindset to focus on the foods you can have and freely enjoy.
The ability to make these informed choices for yourself can be empowering!
6. Increases Variety In Your Diet
Living with a special diet may cause you to eat the same foods over and over because they are your safe foods. Shopping for single ingredient foods can open up the gates to a wider variety of food products that you can safely add into your diet.
Healthy living and healthy eating should be enjoyable. Increasing variety in our diets helps us get the nutrients we need and helps us plan more satisfying meals.
7. Makes Grocery Shopping Easier
Say no more to scrutinizing labels and questioning the safety behind food dyes and anti-caking agents.
This will save time and allow for a simpler grocery shopping experience. Plus, many single ingredient groceries are easy to purchase online.
8. Improve Your Health
Yes, selecting single ingredient foods can optimize your health. Here’s how.
Following your special diet and choosing foods you know are safe for your body can help you manage your allergy or disease better. This can mean less inflammation, less stress, less digestive issues and less visits to the doctor.
You can begin to feel better and may even experience improvements with your sleep and mood.
9. Opportunities To Build Cooking Skills
Single ingredient foods are versatile. If you enjoy cooking, there are probably hundreds of recipes using your single ingredient food. Now’s your time to get more culinarily creative! Learning how to cook healthy food is a great way to crowd out highly processed foods.
For example, have you ever baked with green banana flour? It is a single ingredient food product you can bake bread, muffins, and pancakes with it no matter if you’re gluten free, paleo, or vegan!
10. Avoid Harmful Ingredients
As previously stated, single ingredient foods are free of hidden ingredients — some of which are known to be harmful.
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) can disrupt the normal functioning of hormones(3).
- Artificial Sweeteners consumption may promote obesity and metabolic syndrome (4).
- Trans Fats are hidden under the term “partially hydrogenated” on ingredient lists. They are known to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol which increases your risk for heart disease.
Choosing single ingredient foods makes life better by avoiding potentially harmful ingredients, managing your special diet more easily, determining what foods you CAN freely eat, reducing the stress of grocery shopping, and optimizing your health and well-being. We recommend eating real food and choosing foods from each food group.
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- “Hidden in Plain Sight.” SugarScience.UCSF.edu, 7 Dec. 2018, sugarscience.ucsf.edu/hidden-in-plain-sight/#.XnPQqahKjIV.
- Ng, Shu Wen, et al. “Use of Caloric and Noncaloric Sweeteners in US Consumer Packaged Foods, 2005-2009.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 112, no. 11, 2012, doi:10.1016/j.jand.2012.07.009.
- Pearlman, Michelle, et al. “The Association Between Artificial Sweeteners and Obesity.” Current Gastroenterology Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 Nov. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29159583.
- Pop, Anca, et al. “Endocrine Disrupting Effects of Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA – E320).” Clujul Medical (1957), Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462476/.