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Cheap Ingredients; Unhealthy Returns

The following post is from Madison of My Dollar Plan and Kids and Money at

source: jeffreyw

We all like to save money on groceries. However, would you be so willing to save money if you found out that the cheap ingredients manufacturers are using are unhealthy? Amanda, a staff writer at My Dollar Plan, shares her findings:

Businesses run with the idea that profit is king.

This makes sense; after all, without a profit, a business cannot stay in operation for long. Larger profits are attained in one of three ways: sell more, be more efficient, or a combination of the two.

Food manufacturers have employed many strategies to become more efficient over the years. Just like any other business, making your raw materials and ingredients cheaper is a great way to achieve this…except when there is practically no thought given to the health of consumers.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of making sure that food products are not mislabeled, as well as to make sure that truly questionable ingredients do not make it to market. However, they cannot control everything. Even if they could, there are many preservatives, chemicals, additives, etc. that are used as cheap substitutes for which we do not know the long-term effects.

Cheap Ingredients

Below I’ve listed a few of the biggest offenders (for even more, refer to this list of ingredients to avoid in the food you eat). These ingredients were introduced for a litany of reasons but cost is the primary one. In fact, they are almost always found in low-cost, processed foods. Also, it should be noted that many of these ingredients and their level of unhealthiness are debated. It is best to do research and make your own decision on whether or not to include these ingredients in your household.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

This is the most commonly used ingredient in processed foods today. It is a sweetener made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose, which is another form of sugar. And it’s gotten a pretty bad rap through the years, so much so that the Corn Refiners Association started an ad campaign about how it is a natural product and safe, just like sugar. There is evidence to suggest that HFCS contributes to obesity and diabetes Type 2.

A University of Florida suggests that a diet high in fructose may lead the body to develop a resistance to a protein called leptin, which helps control appetite. Also, people with stomach and digestive sensitivities have reported increased sensitivity to this sweetener.

Milk Protein Concentrate

Kraft Food imports this ingredient for its Velveeta, Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Process Cheese Food, Kraft Singles Sharp Cheddar Pasteurized Process Cheese Food and Kraft Singles Swiss Pasteurized Process Cheese Food. The FDA sent Kraft a letter of warning in 2002 when they found this ingredient used in each of these products, as it is not an approved product listed within the code of federal regulations.

The charge actually means that this product can continue to be used in the product, but the product’s name/label must be changed. MPC is what is left over when the higher quality substances in milk have been extracted for high quality products, and is actually considered a waste product of dairy. It is not regulated by the FDA, nor is it on the Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) list.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially hydrogenated oils have the right consistency to replace animal fats such as butter and lard at a lower cost. These are used in the fast food, snack food, fried food, and baked goods industries.

Some of the health effects include lowering the “good cholesterol” (HDL). They also remain in the blood stream for a much longer period of time and are prone to arterial deposition and plaque formation as well as an elevated risk of coronary heart disease.

Saving on Groceries

Saving on groceries is a goal for many households, however, cheap food is not the goal in living a frugal lifestyle and could even derail long-term frugal efforts due to health effects. Buying quality food for cheap should be the goal.

What ingredients do you avoid?

Madison DuPaix is a mom to three young children with a background in finance and insurance. She loves retirement planning and taxes, and recently started her own tax business. Madison is the author of My Dollar Plan and is the guide to Kids and Money at