This amazing post was written by Jenn Ryan, a freelance writer and editor who’s passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. You can read more of her work at thegreenwritingdesk.com.
Shopping at the supermarket has become more complicated than ever these days. You’re bombarded with choices, labels, and different ingredients. Many of the products at the supermarket make odd claims, like “more fiber”, “now made with REAL cheese”, and “gluten-free”.
But do any of these labels hold any meaning? It’s likely that any food that has to talk you into buying it isn’t going to be beneficial for your health.
If you’re like me, you stick to what you like and know. It’s easier to avoid all those other crazy products and just go for what you know is good. However, what if what you know is good happens to be a bag of Doritos, a pack of white bread, and fruit snacks for the kids?
You’re reading this article because you know those foods aren’t great for you. Even if you’ve somehow managed to avoid television, advertisements, and the demand for healthier foods in schools and supermarkets, something inside you just knows that it’s not right. Right?
Let’s look at some of these terrible ingredients in common “foods”, although I would argue that these are not foods at all, rather processed versions of a few ingredients that may or may not have been actual food at some point.
Ingredient Lists Gone Scary
Don’t get me wrong, I love chips. They’re something you can pretty much bank on me having in my cart when I visit the store. I’m not picky either—sweet potato chips, bean chips, tortilla chips, potato chips. I’m in!
With this brief yet terrifying list of ingredients in a conventional bag of chips (I’m talking about you, Doritos!), you’ll soon learn what ingredients are where and why you need to steer your cart from them like a ship trying to avoid an island with the plague.
There are people who advocate for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but I’m not one of them. The seeds are coated in pesticides and they promote the use of products like glyphosate, which, according to the World Health Organization, “probably” causes cancer.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
There’s much debate online about whether or not MSG is as bad as everyone says, but allow me to just say this: the FDA says it’s fine, but the FDA also says Red #3 is safe, and Red #3 has been banned from cosmetics for its adverse health effects since the 90s. Why are we still using it in our food, then?
It’s not necessarily fully hydrogenated oils that you need to watch out for, rather partially hydrogenated ones. Partially hydrogenated oils are made by heating the oils past the point that’s healthy using a catalyst (such as aluminum or nickel). These oils are responsible for increasing your bad cholesterol (which can increase heart disease risk), high blood pressure, and digestive problems.
The truth is that these oils aren’t really oils anymore after the catalyst heating process—they resemble plastic and are thick and gummy rather than liquid. The amount of work your heart has to do to pump blood and your gut has to do to digest these oils puts added strain on your body.
Ones to watch out for: partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed, and palm kernel oil.
You saw what I said above about the artificial colors and cancer, right? Good. No explanation needed.
A compound that’s added to foods for a variety of reasons. Different studies warn of the potential health effects of added phosphates, but the FDA remains neutral, saying it’s likely safe.
Artificial flavors are bad news, guys. Your body doesn’t recognize them and therefore isn’t sure what to do with them. Many artificial flavors can be responsible for migraines, nausea, and a variety of other health problems. Artificial flavor is a tell-tale sign that you have a cheap, less-then-nutritional product.
Dextrose is actually a form of glucose (that’s right—sugar!)
What to Do
Avoiding these ingredients is easy, but you’ll either need to branch out to find replacements, or take a good hard look at your diet and wonder just what nutritional value tortilla chips are adding. I know, love that crunchy, salty chip taste. But seriously, you’re better off without them.
If you do choose to continue consuming chips (like me), look for brands that use whole oils, such as avocado, olive, sunflower, or coconut oil, and have less than five ingredients. The potato chips I buy have three ingredients: potatoes, avocado oil, and salt.
And really, why do you need all that other crap?
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