Food preparations have advanced dramatically over the last decade. More than half of the meals in the market are prepared or packaged. No wonder they are ready-to-eat with a higher shelf life. However, most perks come with their costs. Such processed foods contain harmful chemicals, as shown by several animal studies. If they can cause diseases to animals, humans are no super creatures either! Experts strongly recommend you should avoid: artificial sweeteners, processed foods, and artificial coloring. So, the next time you visit a grocery store, move to the natural produce section to fill your cart. But be cautious there too. Here are the crucial food additives and colors you MUST avoid.
Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
Waxlike, tough fat is made by forcing hydrogen onto the fat molecule’s carbon backbone. It results in fully hydrogenated vegetable oil. Food products manufacturers blend the non-hydrogenated liquid fats with hard fats to get consistency. It is in baked and processed foods, tub margarine, and peanut butter. Usually, partially hydrogenated oils contain more trans fat compared to full ones. However, since hydrogenation isn’t a perfect process, small amounts of trans fat inevitably remain in fully hydrogenated oils as well.
Sodium Nitrites And Sodium Nitrates
These are preservatives used to maintain the pinkish color of processed meats and fish. Sodium nitrites also prevent bacterial growth. You will find these two in sausages, hot dogs, and canned, cured, and packaged meats. Under conditions like high heat, sodium nitrite and nitrate react with amino acids. As a result, they form nitrosamines which increase the risk of cancer in one who consumes it. However, you can hinder this reaction. But, you’ll require erythorbic acid, ascorbic acid, or alpha-tocopherol for that.
BHT And BHA
Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene are antioxidants derived from petroleum. These preserve oils and fats. BHT and BHA are in cereals, crackers, butter, and hot dogs. Animal studies indicate the BHA is more dangerous. It has proved to cause forestomach cancers in hamsters, mice, and rats. Further, the Human Services and Health Department deems it a human carcinogen.
It is a food thickener, and liquid sweetener made using enzymes that break corn starch into sugars. Your nearest grocery store is probably full of corn syrup bottles. It’s because the corn industry is subsidized, and so these artificial sweeteners are abundant! Evey processed foods category you can imagine has a touch of corn syrup. It’s present in soups, bread, frozen dinners, sauces, and frozen treats. Now, here’s something to know. The food products with corn syrup provide no nutritional value other than a bunch of unwanted calories. In most cases, it has led to nothing more harmful than weight gain (but who wants that too!)
Modified Food Starch
All starches derived from wheat, corn, potato, or rice are umbrellaed under this term. These substances are modified. So, their response to cold and heat changes, the texture improves, and they create brilliant emulsifiers. Modified starches are mostly in diet and low-calorie processed foods and frozen meals. Even though these starches appear safe, their processing chemicals are forbidden to be disclosed. So, nutritionists question the health effects of starched packaged foods.
Caramel coloring comes from ammonia-treated sugar and is an additive that can produce carcinogens. Now you may wonder what caramel coloring is in. It’s in coffee flavor syrups, soft drinks, certain protein and snack bars, baked goods, and processed snacks. Here’s something you must know about these food products. Caramel coloring, often in candies and sodas, has proven to cause cancer in animals. Moreover, the International Agency on Cancer Research deemed these food additives carcinogenic to humans in 2011.
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
When heat breaks down vegetables, it results in a flavor enhancement. Most often, corn, soy, and wheat are converted into their amino acids. Hydrogen vegetable protein (HVP) adds strong flavors to food products. Where would you find this flavor enhancer? It’s present in canned chili and soups, processed meats, and frozen dinners. Monosodium glutamate is an effect of hydrolyzing proteins, but the MSG is not required to be mentioned in the ingredients list. Surely the foods will affect your body as this chemical does.
Some other food additives you should avoid are:
- Sulfides: Used to keep packaged foods fresh but can cause respiratory issues.
- Orange B: Food dye used in hot dogs. It can increase the risk of bile infections and liver damage.
- Enriched flour: It is used in snacks. Ingredients are toxic.
- Sodium Benzoate: Used in salad dressings, can cause cancer and DNA disturbances.
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil: Added to processed foods as it increases shelf life. It can affect the heart and brain functioning.
- Agave nectar: An artificial sweetener derived from cactus. It increases insulin level and inflammation.
- High fructose corn syrup: Artificial sweetener made of corn syrup.
The best way to stay away from diseases caused due to food additives is by avoiding fast foods altogether. To the extent possible, consume lesser soda and processed drinks. You may have sugar-free ones prepared at home instead. Additionally, one can incorporate more veggies, fruits, and hormone-free meat into their diet. Most of all, consider the list of food additives you should avoid, and be conscious of what you’re eating.