Restoration Health

Petroleum in My Food?

Petroleum powers many of our modern transportation means, from cars, to planes, to farmer’s tractors—the vehicles we use to move around our lawns, our cities, or the world. It even powers the large grocery store trucks we see on the highway, but it’s not just in their gas tanks—it’s packaged, sold, and neatly placed in kitchen pantries just like yours.

  • Ever wonder how rice, sugar, milk, even eggs stay fresh for weeks or longer? Petroleum is often used by the food industry to maintain the fresh looking foods supermarkets promise and shoppers are drawn to.
  • Food coloring, canned products, some types of chocolate, and additives intended to preserve the appearance, texture, and the taste of food, often contain petroleum and petroleum by-products like paraffin wax.
  • One particular additive, TBHQ, was created to hinder the oxidation process. This substance, tertiary butylhydroquinone, may be toxic to the human body and is commonly found in crackers as well as many of the foods found in our supermarket’s frozen section, like pizza, cookies, and chicken nuggets.
  • An indigestible plastic called Olestra—sometimes called Olean—is used in many potato chip brands and can cause digestive and other related health issues.

In addition to its negative effect on the land we call home, the oil industry itself can pose risks to our immediate physical health, according to some studies. Even some vitamins and over-the-counter medications like aspirin contain petroleum and even worse, the food industry continues to assert that petroleum poses no threat to human health. But health scientists do not all agree. Some say it’s conclusively dangerous, citing correlation to childhood ADHD and other health risks, which, unfortunately, include cancer. Instead of reaching for processed convenience foods that could easily contain petroleum or its derivatives, choose plenty of real food. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats, like coconut oil and butter, will provide your body with the building blocks it needs to keep your body performing at its absolute best.

Ronda Nelson

Ronda L. Nelson, PhD, MH is a holistic nutritionist and master herbalist who helps support and restore optimal health for those who are looking for alternative options with regard to their overall health and well-being.

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