I hope it’s widely known that cookies are not healthy, as in they do not promote health – like broccoli does, for example. But many people think the only bad things about cookies are sugar and fat and don’t look twice at any other ingredients in processed cookies, including those made for the Girl Scouts®.
Despite changing the formula of their cookies in the recent past, these cookies remain full of ingredients that harm your health in many ways. Let’s take a quick look at some of the bad ingredients used in Girl Scout Cookies®, using the Caramel deLites® as an example. Take a look at the ingredients list.
Vegetable Shortening (palm, partially hydrogenated palm kernel, and/or coconut oils)
Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, are an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening.
The Girl Scouts organization touted “healthier” cookies recently by saying they now have “zero trans fat per serving“. Don’t let that fool you, though. If a food contains 0.5 grams trans fat per serving, they are allowed to say “0” grams trans fat on the nutrition label. If you look at the ingredients list you will still see “partially hydrogenated” oils. Folks, anything that says “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” IS trans fats. I don’t care if it’s less than 0.5 grams per serving; if a food contains partially hydrogenated anything, I am not eating it! Do not rely only on the number next to the “trans fat” label – always read the ingredients list!
Listed on Mercola.com as one of the 12 food additives to avoid, “trans fat increases bad cholesterol (LDL) while lowering level of good cholesterol (HDL). It can also cause major clogging of arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, and was found to increase the risk of heart disease.”
Listed on NaturalNews.com as one of the top five cancer-causing foods, trans fats also “promote heart disease, interrupt metabolic processes, and cause belly fat that crowd the organs and strain the heart”. Trans fats can also increase a woman’s infertility risk by 70 percent.
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Sweetened Condensed Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sorbitol, Dextrose, Glycerine
Sugar, sugar, and more sugar! Let’s look closer at a few of them:
Fructose does not trigger insulin release. This in turn means that fructose doesn’t affect leptin levels either. Since it increases neither insulin nor leptin levels, fructose consumption does not generate the same satiety signals as glucose. The result is overeating and weight gain.
Also from NaturalNews.com, HFCS “is the most popular sweetener in many pre-packaged products because it has a sweetness similar to table sugar but is cheaper to produce, easier to transport, blends into other foods more easily, and gives products a longer shelf life”.
What does HFCS do to our bodies?
- HFCS contains mercury.
- HFCS is linked to diabetes in children.
- HFCS is linked to diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
- HFCS has been implicated in elevated blood cholesterol levels and the creation of blood clots. It also inhibits the action of white blood cells so that they are unable to defend the body against harmful foreign invaders.
- Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter.
- HFCS causes severe liver damage.
- HFCS linked to kidney disease.
- HFCS is linked to ADHD.
- HFCS robs the nutrients of anything beneficial you may consume.
Sorbitol, also known as glucitol (a sugar alcohol), is an artificial sweetener. It is a laxative which is poorly absorbed by the small intestine and can cause bowel problems including diarrhea, pain, and extreme weight loss if ingested in large quantities.
Glycerine, also called glycerol, is classified by the FDA as a sugar alcohol and is a by-product of biodiesel production. (Yum!) It is probably used because it has a lower glycemic index, which many people think is automatically better. As Dr. Mercola says:
The glycemic index doesn’t measure how a food or specific ingredient affects you over time. Moreover, it fails to take into account the harm chemicals like sucralose, sorbitol and refined fructose contained in supposedly low-GI foods do to your body; they convert directly into triglycerides and adipose tissue instead of blood glucose, accelerating obesity, diabetes, hypoglycemia and cardiovascular disease.
Artificial Color (Red #40 Lake, Yellow #5 Lake, Blue #1 Lake, Blue #2 Lake)
Artificial colors certified by the US Food and Drug Administration are made from petrochemicals and coal tars! Listed on Mercola.com as one of the 12 food additives to avoid, artificial colors have been linked to cancer as well as many other health issues such as ADHD, rashes, and asthma. Food colorings contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. Here is a table with the ingredients of food colorings.
I looked around and found an article stating that Dr. Ben Feingold has made a link between hyperactivity and food coloring. He also noticed a marked increase in the ADD/ADHD classification after the mass introduction of food colorings into our society. I encourage you to read the other great information on that website www.victoryoveradhd.com.
Another great site to check out, www.fightagainstfoodcoloring.com, mentions a study conducted at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine that showed that a certain food coloring had negative effects on the immune system. In this study, caramel food coloring was shown to diminish immune system function which could alter the body’s ability to fight off infection and even cancer.
Red 40 is a commonly used food coloring dye added to a variety of products. While it may make food esthetically pleasing in appearance, it can cause a negative reaction in those who consume it.
Children are most often the ones who have sensitivity to red 40, whether or not their parents have realized it or not. Reactions include temper tantrums, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, uncontrolled crying and screaming, kicking, nervousness, dizziness, inability to concentrate and sit still among other findings. Physically you may get frequent headaches or migraines, upset stomach and feel ill after ingesting this additive. Often when Red 40 is eliminated from the child’s diet a remarkable change is noticed immediately.
Natural and Artificial Flavors
I’m always leery when “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors” are listed in an ingredients list. Seems to me like a nice, easy way for the manufacturer to hide some less-than-stellar ingredients they don’t want you to know about. In fact, that’s exactly what they ARE doing! Some companies are putting secret chemicals in food that mask bitter flavors by turning off bitter flavor receptors on the tongue. That way, when the chemicals reach your tongue it fools your brain. What are those secret chemicals listed as on your ingredient list? They are conveniently listed under “artificial flavors”. NaturalNews.com has the entire article.
Whew. That’s a lot to say about cookie ingredients.
What Can You Do?
Of course my suggestion is to stop eating Girl Scout Cookies immediately. If you really want your Girl Scout cookie fix, I have done a quick search of the web and found some recipes for homemade girl scout cookies. Notice how simple the ingredient list is? At the bottom of that article are links for several other popular flavors of Girl Scout Cookies. Here is one more article with a recipe for homemade thin mint cookies.
What Can The Girl Scouts Corporate Organization Do?
I haven’t tried those recipes but if someone can come up with a similar cookie using basic ingredients, then why can’t the Girl Scouts demand their manufacturer do the same? Or maybe they need to find a different manufacturer. There are plenty of brands of cookies made with natural ingredients. For example, I did a quick search online and found Bella’s Cookies. At any rate, if they continue to have little girls peddle cookies, they need to find better cookies.
Or here’s an even more radical idea for them: what about doing fund raising with something besides cookies? Go Green Fundraising has some great ideas.
Last year the National Action Against Obesity called for a boycott of Girl Scout Cookies. They also met with the Girl Scouts of the USA and urged a plan to transition away from cookies as the Girl Scouts’ primary source of fund raising and to engage the entrepreneurial spirit of the Girl Scouts to conceive new ideas for fund raising that are health and environment friendly.
I would also hope the Girl Scouts could think of a new fund raising idea that brings them more money than the measly 40 cents per box out of the $3.50 sales price.
I had to laugh when reading the Girl Scouts’ website, where they explain “Why Girl Scout cookies?“. Their answer was, “customers get a great product”. After reading more about the ingredients in their cookies, do YOU think they sell a “great product”? I sure don’t. After looking at the ingredient list, my husband describes the cookies as “sugared sawdust”. I think I have to agree with my husband on this one.
What do you think?
-Wendy – ParentingTips365.com