Food Additives: What to Know

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March 28, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Maintaining a heart healthy diet means choosing foods that are whole, natural, and nutrient-dense over those are processed, contain preservatives, chemicals, and artificial flavors and or colors. Most processed foods have added trans fats, excess salt or sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and MSG’s (monosodium glutamate). Consuming these foods can be harmful to one’s health through increasing risk for heart disease, diabetes, causing weight gain, and possible effects to the brain.

 

  • So where are these ingredients found?

1. Refined sugar and sweetened foods: Avoid refined sugars as well as high fructose and regular corn syrups. These include foods such as candy, soda, syrup, jelly, cookies and baked goods. Instead, eat foods that are naturally sweet or sweetened with fruit or 100-percent fruit juice. You can also use natural sweeteners, such as honey or agave nectar.

 

2. Packaged foods with “un-whole” ingredients: Many packaged foods that seem healthy often contain fillers, preservatives and other ingredients you don‘t want in your diet. If you do choose something that has been manufactured (anything canned, packaged, etc.), try to avoid those that contain ingredients you don‘t recognize.

 

3. Diet foods: Diet foods are lower caloric versions of their high-calorie cousins, made by reducing the sugar and/or fat content. Reduced sugar foods and beverages are often loaded with highly processed, chemically-derived sugar substitutes; reduced fat foods usually have a lot of added sugars. Both options require the very additives and processing that are best avoided.

 

4. Fried foods: Fried foods, especially those that are packaged or come from fast food restaurants, more often than not contain saturated and trans fats. These fats have been linked to disease and other health problems.

 

5. Fast Foods: Fast foods are, by all means, the worst of the worst offenders. Most are mass produced, processed and filled with preservatives, artificial flavorings, colorings and other additives. Furthermore, fast food restaurants tend to use ingredients of lesser quality combined with unhealthy fats.

 

  • The 10 added ingredients to avoid:

INGREDIENT

WHY IT’S USED

WHY IT’S BAD

Artificial Colors
  • Chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color
  • Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches
Artificial Flavorings
  • Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors
  • Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma
  • Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid
Artificial
Sweeteners

(Acesulfame-K, As-partame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Sac-charin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)

  • Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving
  • Can negatively impact metabolism
  • Some have been linked to cancer, headaches, dizziness and hallucinations
Benzoate
Preservatives

(BHT, BHA, TBHQ)

  • Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid
  • May result in hyperactivity, angiodema (swelling under the skin), asthma, rhinitis (inflamation of the nasal membrane), dermatitis, and tumors
  • Can affect estrogen balance and levels
Brominated
Vegetable Oil

(BVO)

  • Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks
  • Increases triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys
High Fructose Corn

(HFCS)

  • Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar
  • Sustains freshness in baked goods
  • Blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness
  • May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat
  • Increases risk for type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer
  • Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver
MSG

(Monosodium Glutamate)

  • Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and more
  • May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing
Olestra
  • An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked
  • Inhibits absorption of some nutrients
  • Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence
Shortening,
Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils

(Palm, Soybean and others)

  • Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S.
  • Cheaper than most other oils
  • Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease
Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate
  • Preserves, colors and flavors cured meats and fish
  • Prevents botulism (intoxication from bacteria in foods)
  • Can combine with chemicals in stomach to form nitrosamine a carcinogen

 

Source: http://life.gaiam.com
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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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