If natural foods came with an ingredient list


What would an ingredient list for a natural food look like? James Kennedy, a chemistry teacher from Australia, has looked into this. Above is a list of the ingredients in an all-natural egg, including all the main chemical compounds.

Kennedy’s point is that “chemicals” are everywhere, nature is built with chemical substances. Therefore, our fear of food additives etc. isn’t necessarily reasonable. He has a point, except that the ingredient list for junk food would make up a whole book, if you were to list all the components of each ingredient.

However, the risk with industrially processed foods is not only that they consist of “chemical substances”. The problem with processed foods is that their compositions are new and contain…

  • substances that previously barely existed in nature (like the artificial sweetener aspartame)
  • excessive amounts of added substances that were previously rare (pure sugar, for example)
  • too little of important substances that previously were more common (for example fiber)
  • a clever combination of properties/substances that makes it extremely difficult to stop eating (addictive).

The problem is that while we humans are well adapted genetically to most of the foods we’ve eaten for millions of years, our bodies are not adapted to new industrial junk food. It’s an ongoing and increasingly risky experiment. Not only because the food contains “chemicals”, but because of its new chemical composition to which we’re not adapted.

Here are some more examples of natural products from Kennedy:

Three More Natural Products






Don’t fear everything with chemical-sounding names, or all additives. They exist everywhere in nature. Do, however, fear new industrial concoctions of chemicals.

In three words: Eat real food.


McDonald’s: Don’t Eat Our Food – It’s Not Good for Your Health

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Fake food products


  1. gpc
    Ingredients of an all natural egg: Egg
    Ingredients of an all natural banana: Banana (may contain banana)

    all processed foods that have egg in them at current only list egg not it's components.
    this is more the point, when a processed food lists a chemical it's because that chemical was added and was not part of another ingredient

  2. Boundless
    > The problem with processed foods is that their compositions are new and ...

    ... are almost never tested for long-term food safety ...

    ... or are tested, but we never get to see the data, ...

    ... which would anyway be confounded by testing against a 'standard' diet, whose adverse effects noise level would drown out novel toxins less than moderately adverse.

    But back to whole foods bearing NF panels ... the data shown is probably what we get from our backyard chickens, who are on a varied diet, unmedicated feeds and no hormones. It would be interesting to see an analysis of a typical US commercial egg from one of those CAFO hellholes.

  3. Steven Richards
    Can you throw all those things into a centrifuge and create food, or is food more than just the sum of the (currently 'known') parts that make it up?
  4. Jan

    Nothing more nothing less (should I say taking any allergies and underlying health issues into account?)

    All the best Jan

  5. murray
    These are ingredients of eggs, blueberries, etc. that have been identified so far. What I have noticed about real foods, is that scientists continually find new beneficial constituents that were unknown previously, and new combinations of constituents that have synergistic benefit, be it in the cell, in the gut or somewhere along the way. This has happened so often, and increasingly so, that one might conclude there is an inductive proof that not all beneficial elements have been identified, especially of so-called super-foods. I call it the "whole is more than the sum of identified parts theorem."

    When manufactured foods are constructed from parts, by application of the "whole is more than the sum of identified parts theorem," we can reasonably expect it will not be as healthy.

  6. greensleeves
    Don't eat the egg shown above. By looking at the ingredients, you can tell it's an industrial egg. Look at the ratio of omegas - indicates a soy diet, not a pasture-raised diet. Look at the e-numbers - it's low in vitamins & beta carotene compared to pasture-raised. Also note the e-number that is the code for paprika derivative. This is an industrial chicken that was fed paprika as coloring to make the yolk look pretty. Also look what's missing - where's the choline in this "egg"? etc.

    I wouldn't call this a "natural" egg at all.

    Reply: #8
  7. Joey
    My father grew up in southern Italy and when he would visit his grandparents farm they raised chickens and hens and he would take the fresh eggs crack them and eat them raw he said they where the freshest most delicious natural tasting eggs he ever tasted. Much better than any eggs he found at the supermarket!
  8. Boundless
    Thanks for noticing those issues in the data. I've posted a query about it on the original chemist's blog.

    Although the intent of this thread on DD might have been to defuse kneejerk fear of chemical names, it's also sadly clear that so-called "all natural raw foods" could benefit from Nutrition Facts panels. Alas, we are only likely to get them from smaller niche suppliers who see it as a competitive advantage, and some do this today; but they merely quote USDA SR-21, which is not confidence-building.

    Indeed, one wonders, in the case of, say:
    just how much we can trust internet reference data on raw foods. ND says that their data source is SR-21, but does that mean a typical USDA Grade A egg actually meets this profile? I doubt it, as the grading standard is for shell condition, and says nothing about nutritional content.

    Increasingly glad we have a healthy clutch of layers in the backyard.

  9. Jack
    Also note that while you can reduce real food to a list of its chemical make-up you will miss all natural vitamins, enzymes and phytochemicals (many which have yet to be discovered by science) which are absent in processed foods.
  10. Mark Johnson
    We're increasingly told that berries (especially blueberries) are great "super" foods but to limit bananas since they're relatively high in sugar. In fact, an article in Diet Doctor very recently reported that bananas were even being banned for monkeys because they had so much sugar!


    However, comparing the sugar content in bananas and blueberries reveals that they're very similar:

    Bananas: Sugars (12%) - Glucose (48%) Fructose (40%) Sucrose (2%)
    Blueberries: Sugars (10%) - Fructose (48%) Glucose (40%) Sucrose (2%)

    In fact, in terms of the arguably more "dangerous" fructose, blueberries have a higher percentage albeit on a slightly lower total sugar content.

  11. DonnaE
    Mark, very good point. I wonder if serving size is part of the answer....
  12. Wolfstriked
    To all you Swedish LCHF'ers I have a question about mayo.In America we seem to be very against mayo as its made from soybean oil and hence high in omega6 but I notice in the Swedish LCHF world you do not see any mention of dangers of omega6 intake.American LC world is even against chicken as it has excessive omega6 also.

    Just wondering whats the thoughts on this as I really do love mayo and chicken LOL.Also,can you check your typical mayo package for info on what oil is used to make it?

    Reply: #15
  13. Kelli @ healthierbytheweek
    As a physician I try to teach my patients how to read the basics of a food label. Most people just look at calories or fat and nothing else. Sugars are added to so many things these days that most people do not even realize how much they eat. It can be rewarding when a patient really gets it and starts to look at their ingredients and the huge amount of additives that are added. I wish more people would eat "real food"
  14. Kholofelo
    Hi Wolfstriked. I'm south African, not Swedish :)

    Make your own mayo and buy organic-raised chickens.
    Happy eating, living and loving.

  15. Zepp
    Its this whit easy beginners advice.. it must be easy and short!

    Yes we discus the problem with Omega-6, and recomend to not bulk on such food!

    Our moste popular brand of mayo use rape seed oil.. not organic but its better then soye bean oil!

    And then as Kelli is pointing at.. one hope that people read the labels and make the best choice of different brands on the shelf?

    Some avoid both chicken and pigs.. becuse of O6!

  16. George Henderson

    the more a diet is restricted in carbohydrate, and the higher in protein it is, the less harmful the effects of the omega 6 in that diet.
    That said, oil is still not an ingredient you want to be eating, because of transfats, peroxides and so on produced during refining, and because it lacks traces of vitamins, minerals, choline and CLA etc you'll find in animal fat.
    When I do buy store-bought mayo for my kids I buy Heinz because it's made with canola oil (or rapeseed, as Zepp says). So at least the 3/6 is in balance. And canola oil, much as it is hated for Paleo reasons, is the only refined PUFA oil to consistently be beneficial, or at least not harmful, in RCTs. Not that I think it's necessary, but science indicates it's a lesser evil.

  17. LL
    Interesting, but what ingredient represents the cholesterol in the egg?
  18. Wolfstriked
    I see then that mayo is viewed as not the best but not the worst fat source.And as for American mayo I found Kraft mayo with olive oil seems to be best choice as it has olive oil listed first with canola and then soybean oil filling the list.Thanks to all the tips here.:) Now to eat me some chicken salad with mayo!!!
  19. Zepp
    One can do ones own mayo too!

    Its quite easy.. use your own favorite oil!

    "Blender or Food Processor Mayonnaise Recipe - Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe"


    It doesent have the same shelftime like like bought mayo.. but who cares.. its for the fresh made, one do it!

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