Do you read the labeling on the food products when you do your shopping? Do you check the ingredients of what goes into your body? Many people don’t do so, and it’s a pity as they don’t realize that some of the common ingredients found in processed foods can be harmful for their health. Many of the ingredients below are used to make the top 10 worst fake foods that I wrote about in a previous post.
While we all know that consuming more whole and natural foods is good for our health, it’s still impossible for many people to completely avoid processed foods, and for these people reading the label is very important.
Below you will find the top 10 worst ingredients is food. Get into the habit of reading food labeling to avoid these harmful ingredients and promote your health:
1. Artificial colors
Artificial colors are used to enhance the color of the food and make it look a lot more appealing, but these colors host a rainbow of risks: some of them have been linked to various health issues, such as allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity, headaches, and they are also linked to various types of cancers.
Artificial colors are found in many processed foods, such as candies, beverages, pet foods, baked goods, cereals and even medications. Here are some of the most common food colors used today: Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue), Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine), Citrus Red #2, Green #3 (Fast Green), Red #3 (Erythrosine), Red #40 (Allura Red), Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) and Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow). Always read the product label to see whether it contains artificial colors, so you know to avoid these foods.
2. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
This is a processed flavor enhancer that can be found in Chinese food, restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, crackers, sausages, processed meats, dips, frozen meals, soups and more. It has been linked to various health issues, such as: brain damage, liver inflammation, learning disabilities, obesity, headaches, nausea, asthma, change in heart rate and various other diseases.
3. Artificial preservatives
There are various types of preservatives which prevent spoilage and food poisoning and prevent mold growth. The intent of preservative use is well-meaning, because they prevent botulism, mold and bacteria, which gives products a longer shelf life and protect people from illness, however many preservatives have dangerous side effects and are potentially carcinogenic, can cause hyperactivity, hormonal changes, liver damage, nervous system damage and many other health problems.
When you read the label, look for butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT), tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), sodium benzoate, potassium bromat (typically used as a flour improver E924). Also sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites are another preservatives which are added to processed and cured meats to preserve color and extend shelf life. Unfortunately, these compounds can be converted to nitrosamines, which are potentially carcinogenic chemicals.
4. Artificial flavors
These are chemical mixtures that imitate natural flavors. You can find them in artificially flavored jellies, soft drinks and candies. These are made of a similar taste base, but have dramatically different flavors due to the use of different scents or fragrances. Many artificial flavorings are derived from petroleum, and most artificial flavors actually contain many chemical ingredients, not just one, and many of those chemicals are volatile. For example: brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is primarily used to boost flavor and help emulsify citrus-flavored soft drinks.
Artificial flavors have been linked to brain and nervous system damage, cancer, nausea, headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity, asthma and much more.
5. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
This is a cheaper alternative to cane and beet sugar, and in the United States it is among the sweeteners that have primarily replaced table sugar in the food industry. Due to US-imposed tariffs in the United States sugar prices are two to three times higher than in the rest of the world, which makes HFCS significantly cheaper, so that it is the principal sweetener used in processed foods and beverages. It is commonly used in breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soft drinks, soups and condiments.
Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food manufacturing argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar. Also many health concerns have been linked to HFCS, which potentially contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
6. Artificial sweeteners
These include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame-K and more. These are chemical food additives that duplicates the effect of sugar in taste with less food energy. They are anywhere from 30 to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar and as a result, they have much fewer calories than foods made with table sugar. Many sugar substitutes have zero calories per gram. They are found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.
They have been associated with a negative impact on metabolism, and some have been linked to obesity, IBS, brain damage, cancer, headaches, dizziness and hallucinations.
7. Trans fats
Trans fat enhance the flavor, texture, and shelf life of many processed foods. These are formed when manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats via a process called hydrogenation. It has also been claimed that a high intake of trans fats may have a direct association with prostate cancer in men. Also many commercial brands of soybean oil are often hydrogenated to help increase their shelf life, and more than half of all soybeans crops grown in the US are genetically-modified (GMO).
Also pay attention to a fat substitute that adds no fat, calories or cholesterol to products such as baked and fried goods and is called olestra. Although it may sound good to you, olestra may cause abdominal cramping, loose stools and inhibiting the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Olestra is unapproved for sale in many countries, including the European Union and Canada, but products containing the ingredient can still be purchased at grocery stores in some countries. If you want to maintain healthy heart, read my article about the best cooking oils for healthy heart and how to use them.
8. Refined grains
A refined grain is made by processing a natural, whole grain so that some or most of the nutrients are lost. When a whole grain is refined, both the bran and germ are removed, including all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Refined grains are also easy to digest and increase your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead to all sorts of health problems. Replace processed grains with whole grains, like brown or wild rice, wholemeal pasta, whole-wheat breads, barley and oatmeal.
Sugar can be found not only in obvious foods such as cookies, cakes, sodas, soft drinks and other sweets. Sugar can be found even in pasta sauce, salad dressing and canned vegetables. So when reading food labels, look for sugar listed as the first ingredient and be aware of hidden sugar names: fructose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, glucose, dextrose.
Eating lots of sugary foods are more likely to cause you to gain weight. Research shows that being overweight or obese increases your risk of cancer. This is because obesity may cause changes in hormone levels or insulin that might increase the risk of developing breast, colon or uterine cancer. Therefore limiting the amount of sugar in your diet is important. Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to overweight and obesity, which indirectly increases cancer risk over time. If you tend to have sugar cravings, you may want to read my article about 13 effective ways to quit sugar.
10. Salt (sodium chloride)
Sodium is necessary for life and is essential to many processes in our body, but you only need a small amount every day. The problem is that most of the sodium in our diet can be found in processed foods, such as various sauces, fast-food, canned vegetables, soups, and cured or preserved meats. Many of the worst 10 fake foods are saturated with salt.
Consuming too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure. For some people, excess sodium leads to fluid retention in the body, and this causes the kidneys and heart to have to work harder. According to a report issued by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund in November 2007, excess salt intake may increase your risk of stomach cancer, as too much salt can harm your stomach lining.
It’s your responsibility to take care of what goes into your body. You may not see right now the harmful effects of these substances, but it’s the long term and the cumulative effect that counts. So opt for healthy foods – you can find more information about healthy eating and nutrition in my e-book Effortless Healthy Eating which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program.