“The discussion about food additives and their pervasiveness in foods can be overwhelming even if you have mastered cooking everything from scratch and have already identified wholesome alternatives. For most of us, myself included, the process of eliminating troublesome ingredients and replacing the items with wholesome healthier choices does not happen overnight.The first step is learning about which foods may contain ingredients and additives you would prefer to avoid, and why a particular ingredient is worrisome. When you start looking at ingredient lists for some of your favorite items found in your grocery store you may be surprised at what you will find.”
Marilyn Moll, The Urban Homemaker – another excellent resource for nutritional eating information from a Christian momma!
The following article by Sandy Tuin is an excellent and clear explanation of the top ten additives and preservatives included in many packaged foods. Look for these on the labels!
1. Natural Flavors
Listed as natural flavors.
Found in: Baked foods, frozen dinners, candy and more.
What’s the big deal? Natural flavors include a number of naturally occurring (non-chemical,non-artificial) substances approved for use in food by the FDA. These flavors often come from allergy-inducing ingredients such as nuts and wheat.
How to avoid it? If you are prone to food allergies call the food manufacturer to learn the source of the natural flavor.
2. Artificial Colorings
Listed as yellow #6, blue #2, green #3, red #3 and more.
Found in: Candy, soda, gelatin, and more
What’s the big deal? Some studies link artificial colorings to a range of health problems including cancer, hyperactivity, thyroid and allergic reactions. They have no nutritional value.
How to avoid it? Steer clear of artificially colored foods. Opt instead for naturally colorful edibles like fresh fruits and dark leafy greens.
3. Chemical Cocktails
Found in: Non-organic product.
What’s the big deal? Conventional farmers spray their produce with chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides to keep insects and weeds at bay. Residues of these toxic chemicals end up on your food, and some studies have linked them to cancer and birth defects.
How to avoid it? Wash your produce thoroughly with a mixture of 1 tsp mild dishwashing detergent and 4 liters of water. Buy organic or shop at the farmer’s market.
4. Sodium Nitrite
Listed as Sodium nitrite
Found in: Processed meats including bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunchmeats, and corned beef.
What’s the big deal? This preservative can mix with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamines, a carcinogenic substance linked to cancers of the pancreas, bladder and brain.
How to avoid it? Replace processed meats with fresh meats or purchase nitrite-free lunchmeats. Meat found in canned soups and frozen dinners commonly contains sodium nitrite, so check labels carefully.
5. High Fructose Corn Syrup
Listed as High fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup,
corn syrup solids
Found in: Frozen foods, sweets, breads, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, many canned vegetables, cereals, juices, sodas, breads and much more.
What’s the big deal? High fructose corn syrup increases your risk for diabetes. It also encourages overeating because its chemical structure tricks your brain into thinking your body is hungry. And it can raise triglyceride levels in the bloodstream, which increases risk of heart disease. Also contributes to high cholesterol and insulin resistance. Has no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and leaches micronutrients from your body.
How to avoid it? Limit your intake of added sugar to less than 10% of your total daily calories. And/or buy alternative foods that do not contain it!!
6. rBGH: Listed as rBGH
Found in: dairy products, including milk and cheese.
What’s the big deal? rBGH stands for recombinant (genetically modified) bovine (cow) growth hormone. Dairy farmers inject cows with it to stimulate milk production, and it ends up in the milk sold in grocery stores. Research has tied it to prostate, solon and breast cancers.
How to avoid it? Look for milk that says “no rBGH” on the label. Switch to organic milk or raw milk.
7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Listed as Yeast extract, gelatin, textured and hydrolyzed proteins, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, and more.
Found in: A wide range of foods including chips, canned soups, salad dressings, fast food, and frozen dinners.
What’s the big deal? MSG can affect the nervous system and make you feel hungrier than you rally are. It may also trigger migraines.
How to avoid it? Read food labels carefully. Even packages that say “no MSG or no MSG added” can sneak the substance in disguised as any of the ingredients above.
Listed as salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda.
Found in: meat, eggs and dairy products. Also found in processed foods like canned soups and frozen dinners.
What’s the big deal? Your sodium count should not exceed 2400 milligrams a day, but some studies how Americans average intake is 3300 mgs a day. Excess sodium can raise blood pressure, which puts extra strain on your heart.
How to avoid it? Use herbs and spices rather and salt to flavor your food. Go easy on the salt shaker.
Listed as: Linoleic acid; sunflower, sesame, corn and soybean oils.
Found in: frozen and processed foods
What’s the big deal? Ideally, you should eat three omega-6 fatty acids for every omega-3 fatty acid you eat. But the ratio in most Western diets is between 10:1 and 20:1. Excess intake of omega-6 can raise blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease.
How to avoid it? Eat fewer processed foods. Eat Omega 3 rich foods like walnuts, fish.
10. Trans Fat
Listed as: partially hydrogenated oil.
Found in: commercial baked goods like crackers and cookies; shortening and margarine.
What’s the big deal? Trans fats temporarily raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
How to avoid it? Even foods that claim 0 grams of trans fat on the label can contain it because food manufacturers don’t have to list amounts under 0.5 rams. But eating more than one serving of a food can easily double or triple that half a gram. Read the label to be sure there are not partially hydrogenated oils hiding in the ingredient list.
Author, Sandy Tuin, is a mom, grandma of four, Norwex Consultant and Manager, and gifted in all areas of home arts. You may contact Sandy at [email protected]