The 10 Most Dangerous Food Ingredients
Food makers are a bunch of sneaky bastards these days.
In an effort to maximize the shelf life and reduce the cost of stocking supermarket shelves with boxed cereals and frozen meals, most Big Food makers have resorted to throwing in all sorts of odd — and downright disgusting — additives into the mix.
If you've read a food label in the past 50 years, you know what I'm talking about...
You probably haven't heard of, nor can you pronounce, half the ingredients!
What happened to the good ol' days, when a can of chili was nothing but meat, beans, and tomato sauce?
Industrial chemical shortcuts in your food is the quickest way to throw your body out of whack and cause all sorts of long-term health problems (many are linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease).
Of course, you can prevent that simply by avoiding processed foods all together. But I realize this can be a complete lifestyle change for some...
So if you find yourself grabbing a bag of chips on the road or a quick frozen pizza to feed your hungry teenagers, keep an eye out for these 10 dangerous "food" ingredients:
1) Hydrogenated Oil or Partially Hydrogenated Oil
This stuff is created by pumping vegetable oil full of hydrogen gas. It's used mainly in baked goods and frozen dough products (pizza, pancakes, etc.) to give them a fluffy texture and improve their shelf life. However, these oils also contain high levels of trans fats, an inflammatory and extremely unhealthy fat found only in extremely small quantities in nature. Unlike other fats, your body has no use for these, so stay away from them at all costs.
2) Modified Corn Starch
This ubiquitous food item is found in more and more ingredient list these days. It's a thickening agent, emulsifier, and stabilizer in things like yogurt, canned soups, and ice cream. Besides the fact that these items have never had corn starch in them before, the problem is that, being a simple starch, it is easily broken down into sugars — bad news if you're trying to maintain a healthy weight. This is a sneaky source of carbs, best left on the corn field.
3) Vegetable/ Soy/ Corn/ Cottonseed/ Canola Oils
These oils are recent additions to the American food scene. With the saturated fat scare of the last 50 years, these oils were touted as the "healthy, unsaturated alternatives." Unfortunately for many consumers, this turned out to be a load of bunk. These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause arterial inflammation (read: heart disease). If you're looking for healthy cooking oil high in omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats, stick to coconut, olive, or red palm oils.
4) Sugar/ High-fructose Corn Syrup
You'd be surprised how many non-sugary foods have sugar or high-fructose corn syrup added to them: ketchup, breakfast cereals, yogurt, breads, and many "nutrition" bars. Just like modified corn starch, these are a sneaky source of dangerous sugars that can quickly add up to a few extra pounds around your waistline.
5) Natural and Artificial Flavors and Colors
It's a shame these days that the word "natural" is used for things never before seen in the human diet... You don't even need the grape to claim grape soda is "naturally flavored." It's become just another marketing word to make you feel better about eating heavily-processed sweets and frozen meals. Artificial flavors and colors aren't any better (and may be much worse!): Take "Yellow 6 lake," for instance (which is banned in Norway and Finland), also known as "benzenesulphonic acid treated with hydrochloric acid and sodium nitrite." You wouldn't consume any of those things by themselves, which makes Yellow 6 a lethal additive for dietary distress — and yet another reason to avoid processed foods.
6) BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) and TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone)
I bet you never thought you'd see oil in your food, but here it is. Both are derived from petroleum, and both are used as food preservatives. If there's ever a reason to eat fresh, this is it.
7) Sodium Nitrate
Another preservative, you'll find this one mainly in processed meats like hot dogs, deli turkey, and bacon. This chemical is linked to heart disease, diabetes, digestive cancer, and even Alzheimer's. If you still want that delicious bacon taste without the nitrates, you can find nitrate-free center cut bacon at your local organic food store. I promise you it'll be the best bacon you've ever tasted in your life.
8) Enriched Wheat Flour
This is especially important to watch out for in your breads and cereals, as it's one of the most "empty" types of carbohydrates. It's devoid of any nutrients and fiber — yet chock-full of calories. If you're going to eat grains, make sure it says "100% whole wheat" on the label and lacks "enriched wheat flour" on the ingredient list.
Yet another sugar-heavy corn-derived food additive. You'll find this in low-fat foods, as they help maintain the consistency of fat without the fat calories. The problem is you're simply replacing fat calories, which won't spike blood sugar, with a sugar that will. The blood sugar is what determines fat storage; fat alone does not. You're better off eating the whole-fat variety than the one loaded with maltodextrin sugars.
10) Titanium Dioxide
Among other things, titanium dioxide is used as an industrial pigment, a sunblock, a wastewater cleaner, and a component in semiconductors... and is a possible carcinogen. Sounds exactly like something you want in your food, right? You can often find it in mayonnaise, marshmallows, and milk. If it's an unnatural white, there's a good chance your food contains titanium dioxide.
A quick rule of thumb for picking out food at the grocery store: The more it looks like the plant or animal it came from, the healthier it probably is for you.
Yours in health,