The food we eat is more processed than ever before. This is due to the way our food gets to our table and how our food industry has developed over the past 50 years. Additives are used mostly to preserve, stabilize, and manipulate our food, but they can also lead to ill effects on our health. Even major chain restaurants such as Panera are wising up and taking the time to rid their menu of additives. Here are the top three on my list to avoid!
Food manufacturers began using hydrogenated oils to increase the shelf life of products and to save on costs. When a liquid unsaturated fat is manipulated into solid form, hydrogen is needed to stabilize the oil. This is how trans fats are made. These hydrogenated oils increase your LDL Cholesterol and lower your HDL Cholesterol, a good way to create increased stress on your cardiovascular system.
Common Culprits of hydrogenated oils include:
- vegetable shortening
- packaged snacks
- Prepackaged baked good
- Fried food
- Coffee creamers
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid that the body uses and needs. However, synthetic manipulation and processing of glutamate produces a form that is not found in nature and can be a toxin when ingested. Common symptoms from people that ingest MSG included headaches, flushing, poor attention, and weakness in the arms and legs.
Common Culprits of MSG include:
- Soy sauce
- Chicken Flavoring
- Soy Protein
- Corn Starch
Carrageenan is an extract from a red seaweed that is used as a thickener or emulsifier to improve the texture of ice cream, soy milk, cheese, and other processed foods. Research has shown that carrageenan causes inflammation and that’s a big problem considering inflammation is the underlying constant for major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Common reactions to carrageenan include skin rashes and digestive disturbances.
Common Culprits of Carrageenan include:
- Flavored milk
- Cottage cheese
- Ice Cream
- Non-dairy milk replacements (such as soy, coconut, or almond)
- Certain deli meats
Let these lists serve as a guide. Cleaning up your diet can feel overwhelming at first until you learn to recognize these harmful additives. Take a few minutes while you’re out at the grocery store to read the labels of the foods you purchase. Replacing foods that contain these additives with products that don’t can make a big difference in how you feel and function day to day.