Which Hormone is Keeping you Fat?
7 Scary Food Additives To Avoid
Have you looked at a food label lately? If you eat packaged food, you should.
When foods are manufactured, the end goal is not to make the foods healthy, but to produce the food cheaply and consistently. And of course the manufacturers of these foods want a food that tastes great in an almost addictive way so you keep coming back for more. Food additives make this process possible.
But it can be difficult to decipher the contents of an ingredients label. There are over 6000 approved food additives used in the food industry. Which is why most people decide that anything after the top five ingredients is better ignored.
But if you are trying to lose weight it is important that you reconsider. There are some ingredients on the labels that may appear on foods that are labelled as healthy.
To make it easier for you here is a list of 7 additives that should be avoided. Here is the Scary 7 and my take on each of these.
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Almost all sweeteners can contribute to weight gain, but HFCS is particularly harmful. It promotes belly fat and insulin resistance and is associated with several chronic diseases.
High fructose corn syrup is often used to sweeten beverages which are more likely to cause weight gain than solid foods. But you'll also find HFCS in sauces, dressings, and even medications.
2. Trans Fats
Most oils from plant sources are liquid at room temperature. These liquid oils have a short shelf life. So for a long time oils were hydrogenated to turn them into a semi solid fat that had a longer shelf life. These trans fats also help to improve the texture of foods.
You may have heard that trans fats are banned in the US. But they could still be distributed as late as 2021 and as of 2022, they were still present in some foods found in supermarkets.
Don't just go by the label that says zero trans fats. Foods are allowed to contain a small amount and still say this. Look for partially hydrogenated oils, hydrogenated oils or mono and di-glycerides.
3. Artificial flavours
Artificial flavours are added to many foods to mimic the taste of natural ingredients. Processing of foods removes the flavours so artificial flavours are added back to create the taste. It also allows the product to have a consistent flavour.
When you see artificial flavours on the ingredients list it can mean several different chemical additives have been added to the product.
Allergic reactions are common to these ingredients, but you can't tell exactly which ingredient is causing the reaction.
4. MSG (Monosodium Gutamate)
One artificial flavour additive that is included on foods labels is MSG. It can also be called yeast extract or hydrolyzed vegetable protein. MSG is classed as generally recognized as safe by the FDA, but adverse reactions include swelling, heart palpitations and nausea.
5. Artificial Colours
You may have noticed that packaged foods are getting brighter. It's not your imagination. The use of artificial colours has increased by 50 % in the last 3 decades. Artificial colours have been linked to hyperactivity, ADD and ADHD in children who are the most likely to consume these.
Depending on where you are they are listed on the label by the colour name or just by the word colour.
6. Artificial sweeteners
When looking to lose weight many people turn to artificial sweeteners to avoid sugar. But unfortunately, like many other food additives, they have adverse side effects. Acesulfame potassium (sold as Sunett or Sweet One) has been shown to cause cancer in animals. Aspartame (sold as Equal or NutraSweet) is converted to formaldehyde in the body and is linked to dizziness and headaches. Saccharine (Sweet'N Low) causes cancer in animals. Sucralose (Splenda) has caused leukaemia in animals.
Artificial sweeteners are often added to foods to reduce the sugar content but keep the sweet taste. They are also a common allergen.
Foods with a long shelf life are also good for the manufacturers' profits. So preservatives are often used to extend the shelf life. Common preservatives are BHA, BHT, polysorbate 60,65 and 80, sodium benzoate, sulfites, TBHQ, potassium sorbate and nitrates. Many of these have been linked to cancer, liver and kidney problems and are also common allergens.
One common preservative, propionate has been linked to weight gain and diabetes.
I can help
If you are having trouble deciphering food packaging or want to start eating a healthier diet book a free nutrition assessment to find out how I can help.