Read the Label!
For decades, nutrition watchdog groups have advised consumers not to ignore the "fine print" on food ingredient labels. Milder than the warning on cigarette packages, food labels nevertheless try to make us aware of certain dangers. Just when consumers finally started to pay attention, demanding that the marketplace provide more organic and non-processed foods, the deepest recession in sixty years has proved a set back to smart eating. As consumers cut back on spending, many buy the least expensive-and often the least healthy-products in the supermarket. Such choices can be shortsighted. You might have a restricted food budget, but what price tag can you put on long term health?
Here are eight harmful, yet legal, ingredients food companies add to some of your favorite packaged meals and snacks.
1. Artificial flavorings.
These chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors are linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.
2. Artificial sweeteners
(acesulfame-K, sobitol, aspartame, Equal, NutraSweet, Splenda, etc). Zero-calorie sweeteners are highly-processed and chemically-derived, and are linked in studies to dizziness, headaches and certain cancers.
3. Benzoate preservatives (BHT, BHA, and TBHQ).
These compounds preserve fats to prevent them from becoming rancid, and in the process may result in hyperactivity, angiodema, asthma, and dermatitis.
4. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO).
This chemical enhances flavor in many citric-based fruit drinks and soft drinks. However, studies have linked BVO to an increase in tryiglycerides and cholesterol, as well as liver, thyroid, testicular, heart and kidney damage.
5. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
An inexpensive alternative to cane and beet sugar, HFCS sustains freshness in baked goods. It may also predispose your body to turn fructose into fat, and increase the risk of Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. As well, HFCS is not easily metabolized by your liver.
6. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).
This flavor enhancer is no longer used by many restaurants, but it is still common in supermarket salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees and soups. It may cause headaches, nausea, wheezing, change in your heart rate, edema, and breathing difficulties.
An indigestible fat substitute often used in fried and baked foods, Olestra inhibits absorption of certain nutrients, and has been linked to gastrointestinal diseases, diarrhea, cramps and incontinence.
8. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils such as palm and soybean.
These industrially created fats are in more than 40,000 food products sold in the United States because they are cheaper to use than healthier oils. They contain high levels of trans fat, which raises LDL and lowers HDL cholesterol, contributing to the risk of heart disease.