10 Surprising Reasons to Choose Single Ingredient Foods

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Originally published on April 13, 2020. Updated and republished on July 4, 2024.

Single Ingredient Foods might not seem like an important topic. But consider this scenario:

Shopping for a can of beans doesn’t sound challenging.

But a challenge arose for a client who was shopping for canned beans at her local grocery store. She has several kids at home and a limited food 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 her budget, she chose 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. 

Cooking surface with towel, eggs, sugar, spices, walnut, butter, grated carrots, sliced orange, flour for blog post about benefits of single ingredient foods.

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. Some people refer to this as “clean eating.”

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.

For example, rather than choosing a rice mix which may contain hidden dairy, wheat starch, preservatives, and various other seasonings and ingredients, you could choose to purchase brown rice and then cook a sauce or stew using ingredients that are safe for you.

3. No Added Sugar

Added sugar hides in 74% of packaged foods.”

 Single-ingredient groceries won’t leave you guessing which ingredient is providing added sugar. There are at least 61 names that exist for sugar.   

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.

In fact, choosing single ingredient groceries will help to expand your food choices

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.

Additionally, fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally “single ingredient.” Adding more of these nutrient dense foods can improve health and nutrition status.

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.
  • Artificial Sweeteners consumption may promote obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • 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.
Infographic with text: Single Ingredient Foods 1. no hidden ingredients 2 no hidden allergens 3. no added sugar 4. more variety 5. informed choices 6. learn to cook with photo of green grocery bag with various grocery items

Bottom Line

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. 

To help further, we’ve created a simple meal planning strategy for people with food allergies and sensitivities

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  • Dr. Lisa Hugh DHA MSHS RD LDN CLT

    Dr. Lisa Hugh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Leap Therapist. She is a Doctor of Healthcare Administration and has a Master's of Science in Healthcare Administration. As a Food Sensitivity Expert, her passion is helping people with complex medical and nutrition needs find food and groceries that are safe and enjoyable. Lisa enjoys helping clients in her private practice.

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  • Gabrielle McPherson MS RDN LDN

    Gabrielle McPherson is a Registered Dietitian and Freelance Writer. Gabrielle has a masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and a bachelors degree in Dietetics. She has worked extensively with pediatrics and works as a freelance health and nutrition writer.

    View all posts

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9 thoughts on “10 Surprising Reasons to Choose Single Ingredient Foods”

  1. This is a great post! I always opt for dried beans and other single-ingredient foods. There are so many hidden things in our foods especially soup and tuna fish.


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