Ingredients to Avoid

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ingredients to avoid

Ingredients to Avoid

Potassium benzoate:  Sodium and potassium benzoate are added to some diet soft drinks and fruit drinks.  They form into benzene, which is a carcinogen when combined with vitamin C.  There is a link between diet cola consumption and weight gain, as well as cancer and diabetes.  Potassium benzoate often shows up in foods such as apple cider, low-fat salad dressings, syrups, jams, olives, and pickles, so it is important to read labels.

Corn:  Corn, in the form of modified cornstarch, dextrose, maltodextrin, and corn oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation, cancer, and heart disease.  Unfortunately corn products and other foods high in omega-6s are hard to avoid. Cut back by gradually phasing out foods such as margarine, vegetable oil, and soy, and, while you’re at it, boost your omega-3 intake by adding salmon, grass-fed beef, halibut, chia seeds, and walnuts to your diet.

Soy: Although it’s often lauded as a healthy, cholesterol-free, cheap, low-fat protein alternative to meat, not all soy is healthy for you.  Soy protein, soy isolate, and soy oil are present in about 60 percent of the foods on the market and have been shown to impair fertility and affect estrogen in women, lower sex drive, and trigger puberty early in children.  The main problem is that 92 percent of soy products in the U.S. are genetically modified.  If you do consume it, stick with organic soy and don’t eat more than three servings a week.  Recommends beans, nuts, or sprouted grains such as quinoa or millet as good vegan protein sources, as well as cage-free eggs for vegetarians.

BHA: Any processed food that has a long shelf life is often filled with butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). This is added to foods to prevent fats from spoiling.  Causes cancer in animals, raising concerns among the healthy living community that the additive could be carcinogenic to humans as well.

Fractionated palm kernel oil:  Palm kernel oil is about 80 percent saturated fat and leads to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol.  Avoid both fractionated and regular palm kernel oil.  Palm fruit oil, however, has less saturated fat and some vitamin E (a player in maintaining a healthy immune system and metabolism), so it’s better for you, but still not as healthy extra-virgin olive, canola, avocado, or almond oils, all of which are made up of a majority of mono- or polyunsaturated fats and have medium or high smoke points, making them safe to cook with.

MSG:  Added to Chinese foods and products, as well as canned vegetables and soups and some meats. Some people experience an adverse reaction, including migraines and increased appetite.

Artificial flavorings: Artificial flavorings offer absolutely no nutritional value and are the markers of processed food.  They show up in almost everything today, including bread, cereals, flavored yogurt, soups mixes, and cocktail mixers, so they can be hard to avoid.  Your best bet is to go for the real thing whenever possible. For example, if you want to have whipped cream, have a little bit of real whipped cream, not whipped topping, which is also full of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, or instead of spray butter, cook with a little bit of real butter or olive oil.

Sodium nitrites and nitrates: Nitrites are added to meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats as a preservative, but they may form nitrosamines when in the body, which may promote cancer growth. In fact, a 2009 study found that kids who ate cured meats or fish more than once a week had a 74 percent greater risk of leukemia than children who rarely ate those foods.  Try to limit your consumption of cured meats to no more than three per week and avoid hot dogs entirely, if you can.  Nitrates and nitrites found naturally in vegetables-the antioxidants in veggies inhibit them from converting into harmful compounds.

Enriched wheat: Whole grains can be part of a healthy diet, providing essential nutrients such as fiber and minerals, but unless that package of bread you’re holding has “100 percent whole-grain” listed as the first (and ideally only) ingredient, it probably only includes a a few whole grains mixed in with enriched wheat flour as the main ingredient.  The key word to watch out for is “enrichment”.  This means niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron are added after these and other key nutrients are stripped out in the first place during the refining process, whether it’s wheat, rye, or other grains.”  While enriched unbleached wheat flour beats out refined white flour nutritionally speaking, the benefits are minimal since the germ and bran are still stripped out during the refining process. Essentially, enriched flour is refined flour that has had a few nutrients re-added to it, but not enough to make it worth the calories. So go for the grain, the whole grain.

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