One of the best lessons I learned from doing the Whole30 was to always read labels. I had been eating clean for a while, so I was used to just avoiding obviously processed foods: no more frozen meals, “meals in a box,” pop tarts etc. But it is the non-obvious foods that you have to be the most careful with; the ones that I used to purchase without thinking, because I just assumed that the only thing in the them was what was labeled on the front. 

“Oh, it says all natural” or “Well this is organic, it must be healthy.” Sound familiar? 

I decided last week that while I was grocery shopping, I would take a closer look at a few healthy foods that I consider staples in most kitchens, especially for people eating paleo/primal. 

Almond Butter

If you eat paleo/primal, you probably switched from peanut butter to almond butter. Or if you’re eating clean, you’re avoiding the regular section of peanut butter and shop the organic aisle. You might take a look at all of your options, and if you’re like me, you pick based on what’s on sale.

All Natural, Barney Butter Almond Butter. Found in the organic aisle. But do you see the problem? Take a closer look at the ingredients and you find that they’ve added evaporated cane juice and palm fruit oil. Also known as sugar.

MaraNatha All Natural Almond Butter. Also found in the organic aisle. This time it’s labelled with organic unrefined cane sugar and palm oil. Organic or not, it’s still sugar.

Well what brand should you buy? Are all almond butters the same?

Kettle Brand Almond Butter has two ingredients: almonds and salt. That’s it. So yes, it is possible to find almond butter without sugar, you just have to hunt for it.

Chicken Broth

Alright, so I know we’re supposed to make our own chicken broth. I even have the instructions written down somewhere so I can try it myself. But sometimes we just don’t have the time, or the spare chicken carcass to make it, and have to rely on the box stuff. 

Swanson “Certified Organic” 100% Natural Chicken Broth. Sounds promising, right? But flip it over to the ingredients: cane juice (aka sugar), canola oil (a no no for paleo), molasses (aka sugar), wheat flavoring and potato flour. Eek.

Pacific Organic Free Range Chicken Broth. Found this one in the organic aisle. But once again, cane sugar…

So which one is best? Organic Imagine Free Range Chicken Broth. As you can see from the ingredient list, no sugar.


Once I gave up processed foods, I threw out the mayonaise and ketchup. But mustard has still been a staple in our fridge, used for things like Baked Mustard Lime Chicken. And minus Honey Mustard (which is flavored with high fructose corn syrup, not honey), you really can’t go wrong with most brands. For example:

French’s Spicy Brown Mustard. The ingredients look exactly as mustard should: vinegar, mustard seed, water, salt, spices etc. 

But what if you wanted the fancy stuff, thinking you were getting something better for your family? Grey Poupon, Deli Mustard for example. Even though the picture on the right is a little hard to read from the glare of the grocery store lights, you can see the word “sugar.” There is also white wine, citric acid, and fruit pectin, which while not bad for you, doesn’t need to be in mustard.

Three foods down, five more to go. Since this post is already on the long side, I will continue with Part 2 tomorrow.

7 thoughts on “8 Healthy Foods with "Secret" Unhealthy Ingredients (and what you should eat instead) Part 1”

  1. Hey Rach! We finally started our own Whole30 (on day 4, so far so good). I found Gulden’s classic mustard was also fine, and our almond butter we actually found in the nut section at Whole Foods (fresh ground right there!). Highly recommend.


  2. Wow.. I never really looked for hidden sugars in chicken broth. crazy how they sneak that sugar into almost everything!
    I hadn’t seen that Kettle brand almond butter.. I’ll need to. Thanks!

    1. Hi! That’s a great question. I tried to look online but I’m not actually sure. I found a picture of a Kettle almond butter that says “Kettle Roaster”. But I don’t know if that’s an old label or if that’s a separate product. Sorry I can’t be more help 🙁

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