Monthly Archives: April 2012

Other Unhealthy Stuff-food additives part #2

In part 1 we covered artificial sweeteners, HFCS, Trans-fats, and MSG.  In part #2 we will continue on through the world of unhealthy food additives.  Once again, the only way to tell if this stuff is in the foods you and your family eat is to read ingredients lists.  Unfortunately there is no way around this, and oftentimes you may not even be able to find a specific product that doesn’t have unhealthy food additives in it.  For example, you may not be able to find pickles that don’t have nasty preservatives in it in a regular grocery store.  You may need to go to a health food store or to the organics isle at your grocery store.  Here is some other unhealthy stuff to look out for.

Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite

Nitrates are used as preservatives and for meat coloring (it makes brown meat turn red).  If you’re a vegetarian, you won’t have to worry about these chemicals, but if you eat meat, watch out for them.  Nitrates were almost banned in the 70’s so they’re definitely chemicals you will want to avoid.  Look for nitrate free meats, and read ingredients lists to see if the meat in the products you buy have nitrates.

BHA and BHT

These are preservatives that are used in a variety of products such as chewing gum, potato chips and vegetable oils.  As is the norm, read the ingredients list to see if BHA and BHT are used.  These chemicals have been found to adversely affect the brain and contribute to obesity so steer clear.

Food Dyes

You’ll have to go to the ingredients list to see if a food product has Dye’s in it.  Some dye’s that are worse than others, regardless, they are usually artificial, and you should generally avoid them.  Dye’s will be listed with a color and a #, for example yellow #6 and blue #3.  Keep a look out for them in the products you buy for yourself and your family.

Sodium Benzoate

This substance is often found in soft drinks and other beverages.  It is also used as a preservative in many processed foods.   By itself sodium benzoate appears to be safe, but when vitamin c is added to the equation the mixture turns into benzene which is a carcinogen.  Be on the lookout for Sodium benzoate in the ingredients list, and then check the Vit C % at the bottom of the nutritional label.  If the product has both, definitely avoid it.

Potassium Bromate

It is found in breads and is used to increase the volume of flour.  Potassium Bromate is linked with cancer in lab animals so it should be avoided.  Look for potassium bromate in the ingredients list of any bread products you consume.

That is the vast majority of unhealthy food additives that are packed into processed foods.  There are certainly others, over 14000 actually.  The best plan of attack is to avoid processed foods whenever possible.  When you do buy processed foods, read labels, and look for products that don’t have a ton of ingredients.  No you don’t have to eliminate all processed foods (lets be realistic), but eating more whole, organic foods will greatly benefit your health and energy levels.  Stay tuned, the next post will go over BPA in plastics and what you need to do to avoid this dangerous chemical.  Remember, Body Balance Healthy Living is dedicated to helping people lead a healthier lifestyle, and if you’d like to learn more, simply contact us.  We have a variety of different services and programs to fit into your busy lifestyle.  Exercise, eat healthy, and manage stress to live a better, healthier life.  Thanks for reading and do something active today!

 

 

 

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Other unhealthy stuff: food additives part #1

Food Additives

There are over 14000 chemicals that are added to the American food supply.  That’s a lot!  Additives are substances (both natural and artificial) that are added to foods to preserve flavor, increase shelf life, and enhance taste and appearance.   Food additives have been used for centuries.  Examples are pickling foods in vinegar, salting, and adding sugar.  Additives definitely have their place (safe forms of food preservation are vital to the distribution of the worlds food supply), and some forms can enhance the healthiness of foods.  Examples are fermenting as in sauerkraut, adding vitamins and minerals, adding fiber, and the recent practice of adding probiotics.  Unfortunately the dollar rules and the cheapest and most available forms of preservation and flavor enhancement are often used.  Some additives and preservatives have been banned, but dangerous ones are still on the market.  Here is a list of the food additives you should limit if not eliminate from your diet.

Artificial Sweeteners

According to the Food Matters website (I highly recommend you watch the documentary Food Matters, definitely worth your time!) artificial sweeteners are the #1 food additive to avoid.  “Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal) is not your friend, it’s a neurotoxin, and is carcinogenic.  It is responsible for more reports of adverse reactions than all other food additives combined”.  There is also a laundry list of diseases and ailments linked to this artificial sweetener.  These are serious concerns, so limiting, and preferably eliminating aspartame from you and your families’ diet is highly recommended.  Examples of foods with aspartame are: diet and sugar free colas, other diet or sugar free beverages, sweets, cereals, pudding, and gelatin products.  When you are reading labels keep your eye out for aspartame.  If you are a diet cola drinker make the effort try to find healthier alternatives.  Your long term health depends on it.  Recommendations are: tea (there are many, many different kinds of tea’s, the best and cheapest way to go is to brew your own, think of the $ you’ll save by not buying your favorite diet cola or beverage with aspartame!) water, coffee, mineral water, and naturally sweetened drinks (we suggest you try to find beverages that are lightly sweetened without high fructose corn syrup, which is up next!).

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) aka Corn Sugar

HFCS is in EVERYTHING!  Go ahead, take a look, read some labels, you will be astounded.  If it’s processed in any way, it’s likely to have HFCS.  It’s absolutely startling when you realize that HFCS is “the #1 source of calories in America” (Food Matters website).  These are empty calories folks, and these empty calories end up getting stored as fat.  HFCS and all added sugars are unquestionably the main culprit in our obesity epidemic.  They don’t fill you up and don’t provide any nutrients.  Furthermore, HFCS is linked with diabetes, heart disease (two of the most prevalent diseases in America), and high LDL levels.  Look for products that aren’t sweetened with HFCS and avoid products with large amounts of added sugars.

Trans-Fats

Just as HFCS and added sugars are linked, so is animal saturated fat and trans-fats.  They’re bad for your health and you should limit or eliminate your consumption of these fats.  No more than 10% of your calories should come from animal saturated fats, if you choose to consume them at all.  Trans-fats are found in fried foods, and in processed foods that use margarine and partially hydrogenated oils.  Because trans-fats are dangerous to your health, their amounts must be listed on nutritional labels under fat.  However, as long as there is less than .5 grams of Trans fat (which would equal about 4.5 calories), it can be listed as 0 grams.  You must go to the ingredients list and if you see: partially hydrogenated, it’s got Trans fats in it.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is added to foods to enhance flavor and appearance.  You’ll have to look at the ingredients list again to find out if it’s in a food.  It’s in quite a bit of stuff, such as chips, Chinese foods (ask if they use it at your favorite Chinese restaurant), soups, frozen dinners, and luncheon meats.  MSG is linked with depression, fatigue, obesity, and headaches according to the Food Matters website.

This is part #1 of a two part series on food additives.  There are more to avoid so stay tuned!