We all know our food ingredient labels are riddled with words that require an advanced degree to understand. Most of us bypass reading them because it’s easier. However, buried in those multi-syllabic words are chemical additives that can have an adverse effect on our health and how are bodies absorb nutrients. These chemical ingredients increase a food’s shelf life, enhance their flavor and color, and make them all-around more appealing to consumers. Packaged food manufacturers and fast food or dine-in restaurants use them (consider this 5-month-old hamburger from McDonald’s that has not varied in appearance at all). Use this list as a guide of eight chemical additives you should avoid.
Remember, as our pal Chef Rocco from Biggest Loser advises- shop the perimeter of your grocery store because that’s where all the unprocessed foods are stocked. Eat a diet rich in fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins and fish and low-fat dairy and your body will thank you.
1. Trans Fat
This additive has garnered much attention recently, and popular trainer Jillian Michaels noted that its the one thing she’d completely remove from grocery stores if she could. Noted on food ingredient labels as “Partially Hydrogenated Oil or Vegetable Oil,” consuming this can be detrimental to your health by promoting poor cardiovascular health and premature heart attacks. Read your labels closely, a food containing <.5g of trans fat per serving is permitted to list zero grams on its label (like Special K Bars).
Culprits: Fried Food, Restaurant Food, Microwave Popcorn, Margarine, Crackers, Chips, Packaged Cookies and Cakes
It’s possibly one of the most dangerous additives in our food supply. Everyone from food manufacturers, restaurant chefs and dear old mom use it in nearly everything we eat and drink. Whether used as a preservative or to enhance or better the flavor, foods high in salt/sodium pose a great risk to our cardiovascular health. The recommended daily allowance for sodium is 2,400 mg, or 1 tsp. of table salt, per day. Fast food meals like McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Ranch BLT combo (~1785 mg Sodium), can contain close to, if not more, than an entire day’s worth of sodium.
Culprits: Fast Food, Deli Meats, Canned Goods, Crackers, Chips, Processed/Packaged Foods
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