If you are trying to be more mindful of the foods you are eating, it is important that you look deeper than just the actual product. Most of us are led to believe that the foods we buy from the supermarket are healthy, but when we look deeper at the ingredients, and armed with the proper knowledge, we choose differently.
I have gathered some of the most harmful ingredients that go un-noticed in canned, packaged, and frozen foods below and I urge you to read labels before adding any product to your shopping cart.
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Food companies use HFCS instead of traditional sweeteners because it costs less and is sweeter in taste, so they have to use much less in terms of quantity. The problem is that HFCS increases your triglycerides levels, boosts fat storing hormones and increases your sugar cravings, pushing you to eat more and store more fat.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is in practically everything, even products you would never suspect. It is in frozen foods, beer, bacon, spaghetti sauce, soft drinks and ketchup among other products.
Look For: Corn sweetener, corn syrup or corn syrup solids as well as high fructose corn syrup.
2. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a processed flavor enhancer that is most often associated with Chinese food. However, you will find it in a big range of products such as canned & instant soup, diet beverages, packages sausages and frankfurters, and salad dressings.
MSG is made of 75% of free glutamic acid, which is the same neurotransmitter that the brain, the nervous system, eyes, pancreas and other organs use to trigger bodily processes. It has been found to disrupt brain chemistry and has also been linked to obesity, type II diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It is made of 75% of free glutamic acid, which is the same neurotransmitter that the brain, the nervous system, eyes, pancreas and other organs use to trigger bodily processes.
Look For: Maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, autolyzed yeast, vegetable protein, hydrolysed vegetable protein, yeast extract, citric acid as well as monosodium glutamate.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners might be low in calories but they have been shown to trigger your appetite and push you to consume more sugar. The most known type of artificial sweetener is aspartame. This one is a neurotoxin which literally attacks your cells, crosses the blood-brain barrier and similar to MSG, over stimulates your cells. An overconsumption of artificial sweeteners has been linked to inflammatory bowel diseases because it alters the gut barrier function and destroys your gut flora.
Look For: Aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and saccharin.
4. Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is a known carcinogen that has been linked to thyroid damage. Sodium benzoate is used as a chemical preservative in several types of foods such as soft drinks, jam, and margarine. It has been shown to deprive cells of oxygen and impact your immune system.
Look For: Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, as well as sodium benzoate.
5. Palm Oil
Palm oil is an ingredient of a long list of products, food and other. A research has confirmed that palm oil is in half of the products in your pantry. It is used in products ranging from cookies, peanut butter, breakfast cereal to cleaning products, laundry detergent, body lotion, and lipstick. Palm oil falls under the category of trans-fats, which are known to raise your LDL and triglycerides levels while lowering the good HDL levels. Trans fats have also been found to increase your risk of heart attacks because it causes blood clots.
Look For: Palm kernel oil or derivates, partially hydrogenated palm oil, palmitate, palmate, stearic acid, organic palm kernel oil, or sometimes vegetable oil.
6. TBHQ (tertiary-butyl hydroquinone)
TBHQ is an additive that is used to preserve processed foods. It acts as an antioxidant but with a controversial reputation. Research has food that TBHQ is linked to an increase in the incidence of tumors in rats, liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, and paralysis in laboratory animals. Another study has reported cases of vision disturbance in humans.
TBHQ is found in instant noodles, candy, crackers, commercial pizza among other products. It has been linked to nausea, vomiting, liver toxicity and reproductive mutations.
Look For: Tert-butyl-hydroquinone, tertiary butyl hydroquinone, butylated hydroxyanisol, and TBHQ.
7. Sodium Nitrate And Nitrite
Sodium nitrite is a common ingredient added to processed meats and fish that helps preserve the food and prevent bacterial growth that can cause botulism. It also adds this attractive color to meat and fish. Sodium nitrite is found in deli meats, bacon, ham, smoked fish and hot dog. They have been linked to colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancers.
Look For: Sodium nitrate, nitrite, and nitratine.
The good news is that by removing all of these ingredients from your diet, you will be doing your body a huge favor. The bad news is that you are most probably not going to find a lot of products in the supermarket that are free from all of these ingredients. The truth is, I rarely buy any snacks or packaged foods from the supermarket.
Don’t overwhelm yourself! Start by replacing one or two products until you eliminate all the processed products from your shopping list.