Six Ingredients in Healthy Foods to Stop Eating Now
We assume as consumers that if the packaging says “healthy” or “organic” it is safe to purchase. However,big corporations that are looking to make a buck are marketing to people that want to be healthy. They don’t care if that means throwing off consumers with misleading packaging. Listed below are six ingredients to quickly scan for before making your next purchase.
Vanillin sounds natural, as if it comes straight from the vanilla bean. Pure vanilla extract is pricey and to keep cost down and profits high vanillin is often used in place of pure vanilla extract. Vanillin is synthetically made and while not a major threat in small doses, spending a little extra for pure vanilla offers a natural antioxidant to your body.
Caramel color is something we consume a lot of without even realizing it. It is used in carbonated beverages, batter mixes, beers, dark liquors, candies, syrups, cough drops, fillings and chips to name a few. It sounds to consumers as caramel we make at home by melting sugar in a pan but this caramel is made by reacting sugar with ammonia and sulphites. Most caramel colors include the carcinogenic chemical 4-methlimidazole, also known as 4-Mel. Products that contain higher levels of 4-Mel are supposed to carry a health warning label in some states. Considering how much we digest of this popular ingredient it is wise to start removing it from our diet.
The fact that “natural flavors” is added as an ingredient should already be a red flag. Natural flavors added to what you eat are almost as common as manufacturers adding salt. Natural flavors are a little tricky because it is supposed to be natural ingredients of what you are eating that has been chemically added into the product to make sure each packaged product taste the same from one bottle or box to the next. The problem in this is that laws are pretty open and relaxed as to what the companies can consider “natural flavors”, and it is often chemically enhanced and can also include animal products. Natural flavors are a close cousin to artificial flavors.
Enriched flour sounds like extra vitamins and nutrients have been added to the product. Actually the opposite is true. Enriched flour has a lot of the natural nutrients and vitamins removed and then some nutrients added back to increase its shelf life . The practice of buying whole grain flours in smaller quantities with better storage is a good alternative.
Artificial colors are chemicals that are found even in some vegan recipes. The appealing bright colors are festive in decorations, enhance the appearance of what we are consuming and help products look good on the shelf. Our children are in the most danger of this ingredient as they are drawn to the vibrant colors in the grocery store aisles. With simple research there are natural ways to add color to your food. Or you can buy these colors made from natural sources.
Have a look at this infographic if you still think they are okay.
Carrageenan is often found in organic and healthy products to give them a thicker consistency, such as soy milk, yogurt, ice cream and processed foods. Meanwhile, it also causes intestinal ulcerations and abnormal tissue growths. National Organics Standard Board, the committee that proposes rules for the organic food industry has just voted to ban it from organic products so hopefully it will be soon gone from organic products.
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Joanne K. Tobacman College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.
Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments