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"Healthy" Items That Aren't What They Claim to Be

Updated on November 18, 2015

The Real Thing

Raw honey that's 100 percent pure looks, smells and tastes much different than many commercial varieties of honey, which may contain unhealthy additives or contaminants.
Raw honey that's 100 percent pure looks, smells and tastes much different than many commercial varieties of honey, which may contain unhealthy additives or contaminants. | Source

Finding the Real Thing

Real Cinnamon Instead of Cassia

Cinnamon is one of your favorite spices. You sprinkle it on buttered toast. You put cinnamon sticks in hot apple cider and you frequently pick up cinnamon-flavored bagels at the bakery.

Chances are, though, you've never tasted real cinnamon.

That's because the vast majority of cinnamon sold in the United States is not cinnamon at all. What's labeled "cinnamon" is really cassia, a related spice that smells a little like the real thing.

Cassia is much more readily available than real cinnamon, which generally comes from Sri Lanka and is also known as "Ceylon cinnamon." It is subtle and sweet, and doesn't have a bitter aftertaste. You can sprinkle it on your toast and eat it, without adding sugar.

After smelling real cinnamon, you may not like the smell of cassia, which is actually sort of cloying. Once you smell the real cinnamon, you'll know when you encounter the fake kind.

There are also added health benefits to eating real cinnamon. Both cinnamon and cassia contain a chemical called coumarin, which can be harmful in large doses because it can damage the liver. True cinnamon contains only a fraction of the coumarin of cassia. Consumers in Europe have been warned against ingesting large amounts of cassia.

You can order real cinnamon online from many sources. Once I discovered the difference, I purchased mine from Amazon and tossed the organic cassia I had stored in my cupboard.

Honey that Isn't So Sweet

Fortunately, many people are now aware the thick gooey "honey" sold in supermarkets may be adulterated or may contain heavy metals or a traces of an antibiotic considered unsafe for humans. This problem has been widely reported, and authorities haven't found a way to stop it.

In fact, the vast majority of "honey" sold under popular brands in the grocery store, or at the drugstore, comes from unknown sources, as its pollen, used to track its origin, has been filtered out.

Food Safety News, a consumer group, also reports honey coming from India, which most likely originated in China, has been banned for sale in Europe. So it's now finding its way to America.

Honey from China is particularly risky because it's often collected from small farmers, who may store it in lead-lined barrels.

In this case it's wise to stay small and local, according to Food Safety News. People who wish to avoid fake and adulterated honey can obtain real honey from local farmers they trust, as many independent farmers sell raw, organic honey.

All Natural Versus Organic

"All Natural" versus Organic

This is an extremely misleading labeling practice. Food labeled "USDA Organic" must meet stringent standards. Produce must be grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic meat must come from animals raised without hormones or antibiotics and fed a certain diet free of pesticide-laden and genetically modified foods. No such standards exist for food described as "all natural."

Further confusion can be seen in the egg section of the grocery store. Some eggs are attractively packaged in plastic cartons printed with labels that say, "fed an all-vegetarian diet" or "cage free." These words, though, don't mean the eggs are organic.

I admit I've been taken in by this slick marketing practice more than once, especially when buying meats. It is easy to read "no antibiotics" and "no hormones" and overlook the fact the meats are not organic. (Of course, this is probably still the best choice when no true organic meat is available.)

If you want to avoid buying food you think is organic, but isn't, look for the words "USDA Organic" on the label.

The "All Natural" Label Essentially Means Nothing


Real Lavender Oil

You might think you're getting a good deal on lavender oil, touted by aromatherapists with having relaxation qualities. Put a few drops on your pillow and you'll be asleep in no time.

However, much of what's sold commercially is not really lavender oil, but a related species widely known as lavandin. The two smell different, with the latter having a stronger aroma because it contains more camphor. Not surprisingly, lavandin oil is much less expensive to produce.

Although both seem to have medicinal uses, they are different oils from different types of plants.

What's more disturbing is that some suppliers may add synthetic chemicals to lavandin to make it smell more like the real thing, according to Jersey Lavender, a producer based in the United Kingdom.

According to Jersey Lavender, you can increase your chances of buying "true lavender" if you do a little "sniffing around."

Smell your potential purchase. If you detect a chemical scent, put it back on the shelf. You'll probably have better luck buying directly from a grower of real lavender, or even directly from a seller. You can also ask questions and expect to get what you pay for. Rock bottom prices probably mean inferior quality.

Ascorbic Acid is Not Vitamin C


Ascorbic Acid Isn't Whole Vitamin C

The bottled juice you're drinking has ascorbic acid added to it, so downing a big glass means you'll meet your daily requirement of Vitamin C.

Except that ascorbic acid isn't Vitamin C. It's a laboratory-created isolate taken from whole Vitamin C and it's only a small part of Vitamin C. Of course, it's much cheaper to produce this chemical version than to make a supplement from real food sources that contain all the healthy benefits of whole Vitamin C. Whole Vitamin C supplements, typically made from rose hips and tropical berries.

There's also evidence high doses of ascorbic acid can contribute to various health problems. It's also likely the "Vitamin C" you are taking is made from corn, and it very well be genetically modified as well. You'll also probably be eating GMOs if your product contains soy.

However, ascorbic acid isn't all bad.

There are stories of "miraculous" recoveries from cancer and other dread diseases following high-dose "Vitamin C," which is really ascorbic acid.

I have some high-dose "Vitamin C" in my house, and I know it's not the real thing. But it's useful in case someone has a serious flu or other infection, as it will help you fight it off. My husband took one dose at the beginning of a bad cold and he was remarkably better the next day.

So it does have a purpose. But would I take ascorbic acid supplements every day? No way.

The Difference Between "All Natural" and Organic


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils or take herbal remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.


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Submit a Comment

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 4 years ago from USA

    Hi Crystal,

    Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. Yes, it is infuriating and outrageous. "Honey" is the worst, because it can contain unknown ingredients.

  • ologsinquito profile image

    ologsinquito 5 years ago from USA

    Thank you Eric, I've enjoyed reading all of your posts on Jenna's hub.