We run a tight ship at The Healthy Aisle.
Just because a package says natural, whole grain or no trans fats does not mean that it is good for you.
We know that you can’t judge a product by its packaging. It’s what is on the inside that counts. That’s why we put all of the products featured on our site through Our Standards. Ingredient lists need to be read and research conducted before appearing on our pages and making their way into your home.
There are certain ingredients we just cannot allow in our shopping carts.
Here are the ones we watch out for.
acetone: a solvent for plastics and synthetic fibers and a component of cleaning agents; at high levels, irritates the eyes, nose, throat and lunch and is linked to common depression of the nervous system; commonly found in nail polish remover and paint thinner
aluminum: common metal, that at toxic levels, is potentially linked to cancer, neurological issues including Alzheimer’s and reduction in bone density; commonly found in foil, baking powder, antacids, antiperspirants, cosmetics, cookware, soda cans and food containers
antibacterial: an agent that stops the growth of bacteria – triclosan being one of the more popular kinds; can create stronger, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, killing good bacteria on and in the body, disrupt the endocrine system and possibly linked to allergies and muscle contraction; commonly found in soaps, detergents, surface cleaners, hand gels, wipes, cutting board and mattress pads, *specifically focuses on products and not the use of antibiotics for the treatment of health issues
antibiotics: medicine used to treat and prevent bacterial infection; ~70% of antibiotics in the U.S. are fed to healthy livestock, not humans, as preventative medicine; linked to creating stronger, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and perpetuating unhealthy factory farming conditions; used in conventionally grown livestock and poultry *specifically focuses on use of antibiotics in animals for “preventative” measures and not for the treatment of health issues in humans or animals
artificial colors: chemical dyes used to color food and drinks; suspected of causing increased hyperactivity in children; usually listed in ingredient lists as FD&C “Color” No. # (e.g., FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5); commonly found products particularly targeting kids but also in the vast majority of packaged goods (like pickles, frosting, even vitamins!)
artificial flavors: flavoring chemically derived from non edible ingredients like petroleum; linked to eczema, hyperactivity and asthma; commonly found in candies, flavored snacks and fast food items
artificial scents and fragrances: ingredient that adds a smell to body care, household and other products; usually derived from petroleum and less expensive than natural scents; can cause migraines, asthma, eczema, cancer, birth defects, fertility issues and nervous system disorders; found in perfumes, colognes, soaps, lotions, air fresheners, candles and dryer sheets
artificial sugars: synthetic sugar substitutes often found in packaged goods labeled “diet” or “sugar free”; most common can be found in packets next to the white sugar at your coffee shop – aspartame [NutraSweet (white and red swirl) and Extra (blue)], saccharin [Sweet’N Low (pink)] and sucralose [Splenda(yellow)]; potential risks of obesity, mental disorders and cancer; commonly found in soft drinks, candies, baked goods, medicine and toothpaste
BPA (bisphenol A): chemical used to make plastics, especially hard, clear and hard to break plastic; mimics estrogen and linked to cancer, infertility, heart disease and neurodevelopmental disorders; commonly found in water bottles, lining of cans, bottle tops and water supply lines
“BPA free” (including BPS, bisphenol B): alternatives to BPA, including BPS, increased in use since research showed dangers of BPA; lesser tested and not proven safer than BPA; linked to neurological issues; found in plastics, store receipts, recycled papers – best to avoid plastics as much as possible
BHA, BHT and TBHQ: (benzoate preservatives: butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene and Tertiary Butylhydroquinone) synthetic preservatives that prevent fats and oils from becoming rancid; may cause hyperactivity, asthma, hormone imbalance, nausea, tinnitus and dermatitis; commonly found in packaged cookies, granola bars, chips, facial cleansers, make up, body lotions
caramel color: a brown food coloring created by heating carbohydrates, is more oxidized than regular caramel and is potentially a carcinogen; commonly found in soda, packaged sauces, baked goods and alcoholic beverages
DEET (diethyltoluamide): active ingredient in insect repellents; can cause irritation of the eye, nose, throat and skin; linked to nervous system reactions including seizures and mood disturbances and digestive issues including stomach aches and vomiting; found in insect repelling sprays, lotions and sticks
flame retardants: chemicals added to manufactured materials to prevent fire from spreading;
linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues and birth defects; commonly found in furniture, carpet padding, mattresses, textiles, car seats, baby products and insulation.
fluoride: an inorganic compound that is toxic in large amounts that can cause ulcers and stomach irritation; commonly found in toothpaste and tap water
formaldehyde: a chemical and VOC used as an adhesive and bonding agent and solvent; can lead to irritation of the eye, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness and nausea and linked to cancer; commonly found in plywood, particle board, other wood products, shampoos, nail polish, hair straightening products and hair dyes
GMOs (genetically modified organisms): a controversial topic, GMOs are plants and animals who genetic makeup are artificially altered; common GMOs are soy, corn, canola oil, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, papaya and cotton
high fructose corn syrup (HFCS): a cheap sweetener made from (usually genetically modified) corn linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes; commonly found in processed snacks, candies and sodas
hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fat): chemically altered (usually GMO) oils that are a cheap fat used in baked and fried foods and linked to heart disease and possibly Alzheimer’s; commonly found in commercially packaged crackers, cookies, fried snacks, chips and sweets
MSG: monosodium glutamate (also goes by many other names) gives food a savory or umami flavor and is an excitotoxin that overstimulates neurons in the brain; commonly found in processed salty foods like chips, instant noodles frozen meals and soups
parabens: commonly used preservatives in cosmetic and body care products as well as some commercially packaged foods; linked to reproductive health issues, estrogren disruption, skin irritation and cancer; commonly found in lotions, cleansers, shaving gels, makeup, toothpastes, sunscreens, pancake syrup and dairy products
petroleum and petrochemicals (petroleum derived products): petroleum and mineral oil lock moisture against the skin but blocks pores and only gives illusion of moisturizing skin; byproducts linked to cancer, nervous system disorders and kidney and liver damage; petroleum is the base of many other chemicals used in body care products including fragrances, propylene glycol (PEG), paraffins, wax and coloring; found in skin products, hair dye foundation, makeup, candles, lubricants, Vaseline, baby oil and shampoo
phthalates: a group of chemicals that soften plastic, help lotions penetrate and soften skin and stabilize fragrances; can be released into air, food or liquid; linked to hormone disruption, male infertility, obesity and thyroid irregularities; commonly found in lotions, deodorants, nail polish, hair spray, perfumes, toys, car care products, plastic wrap, furniture and shower curtains
PVC (polyvinyl chloride or vinyl): also known as vinyl; common plastic that when heated releases dioxins; linked to cancer, birth defects and hormone and immune disruption; contains phthalates and releases VOCs; commonly found in plastic “cling” wrap and food containers, shower curtains, automobile interiors and children’s toys
rBGH/rBST (recombinant bovine growth hormone/somatotrophin): a genetically engineered hormone given to dairy cows to increase milk production; creates less healthy cows; possible link to increase breast cancer risk in humans; organic dairy products do not contain rBGH and milk products will state it on their label if they do not use rGBH
sodium benzoate: a common food preservative that may be linked to hyperactivity in children and is carcinogenic if combined with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C); commonly found in soft drinks, mouthwash, shampoo, body lotions, deodorant and prescription and over-the-counter medicine
sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate (SLS): cheap and effective foaming agent giving them a soapy feel; can cause eye or skin irritation and linked to cancer; commonly found in shampoos, toothpastes, soaps, bodywashes, mouthwashes and detergents
sodium nitrates/nitrites: synthetic food preservative used in cured meat to inhibit bacteria growth and give them their signature red or pink color; linked to heart disease and cancer; commonly found in e.g., bacon, ham, deli meats, corned beef, Spam
sodium sulfites/sulfates: a type of sulfur chemical used as a food preservative; can cause headaches, asthma and other respiratory conditions; commonly found in dried fruit, precut and canned vegetables, maraschino cherries, bottled lemon and lime juice, condiments and baked goods
Teflon: common name for coating creating a non-stick surface on cookware and other products; emits toxic fumes when heated at high temperature; commonly found on nonstick pans, baking sheets, stain repelling furniture, rugs and raincoats
VOCs (volatile organic compounds): also known as offgassing; chemicals that are gas at room temperature found in most scents or odors; signs of exposure include eye, nose and throat irritation; long-term health effects include respiratory issues, allergies and immunity disruption; can be found in paint, shower curtains, aerosol products, nail polish, furniture polish, perfumes, dry cleaned clothes, plywood, moth balls and hair spray
If we’ve missed something, let us know! Because new studies are published and products are introduced all of the time, this list will be updated frequently.