6 Food Label Ingredients You Must Avoid
Growing up I we ate home cooked meals every single day. Every evening we would eat a three course meal that seemed to have been cooked by a top culinary graduate; AKA mom. Meals were hardly repeated and ranged from tasty poultry, to delicious meats and seafood dishes. The main dish was usually paired with a legume prepared in a saute of onion, garlic, tomato paste or sauce and pepper. The side varied between fried plantains, cod fish fritters, fried boniato or frituritas de malanga. Salad and bread were always served as well. Soda was absolutely not allowed unless we were having pizza, burgers or Kentucky Fried Chicken which happened very rarely. My mother wasn’t one to buy many canned, boxed or packaged foods. It’s not that she concerned with Nutrition Food Labels. First, she didn’t read the language and second, she wouldn’t have known what ingredients on labels meant even if they were in her language. Coming from Cuba where food is scarce and any food they can get came straight from the farm, boxed goods wasn’t something she was used to. I guess this allowed us to eat a bit healthier.
I moved out of my house when at 23. Although I had watched my mom cook for all those years of my life, not once had I helped her cook. My job was to set the table and my mom would have me do this pretty much as she started to cook. Somehow the time I spent setting the table allowed me to take in some cooking skills of my own. I remember the first few times I had to do groceries and cook for myself and my then boyfriend, now husband. To me this would be one of the most important things I could do to prove that I was “wifey” material. As they say, the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. I bought mostly packaged goods because it was cheap, fast and easy to prepare. My husband’s family was not as strict as mine with soda. He was allowed to drink soda at home. So between the soda, boxed goods, and the sweets for dessert, we had each gained significant weight after only 6 months of living together. I made some changes in my groceries and meal choices and we lost the extra weight. I have been pretty much able to maintain a healthy weight although the hubby still struggles with this. From then to now, I have learned to watch calorie intake, stay away from sugars, starches and sodium. I’ve learned more and more about ingredients and having a healthy lifestyle with each passing day.
With age comes wisdom! As a 35 year old mother and wife my top priority is to take care of and protect my family! I have always read labels. However, now I read and research the labels. My grocery store experience has been completely shaken up. So many products claim to be “healthy” and yet when you read the labels, they contain so many toxic ingredients! I’m trying my best to cook fresh and healthy meals at home. I have a 90/10 rule. 90% of the meals are cooked at home and 10% may be ordered in (always choosing something healthy). We all have super busy schedules with limited time available after working, helping our kids with homework, putting dinner on the table and all the other endless mommy tasks on our list! We do the best we can!
For this reason, I’ve put together a list of the 6 worse ingredients you may find on Nutrition Food Labels. Listed are the 6 you must stay away from! I may not know what every single ingredient on the back of a label means and some may seem unavoidable, but there are definitely a few I make sure anything I buy does not have!
Ingredients to Avoid on Nutrition Food Labels
A product used to prevent rancidity in foods that contain oil. However, tests conducted in labs have shown that BHA (butylated hydoxyyanisole) has led to cancer in rats, mice and hamsters. Why has it not been removed by The Food and Drug Administration? Well, because the cancer in the lab patients (rodents) have, happens in their fore stomachs which is an organ humans don’t have. If you ask me, that’s close enough so why take that chance of ingesting that crap? Japanese Journal of Cancer Research concluded that BHA was “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen” so, basically they’re saying that there is a chance BHA could cause cancer in a living tissue. What’s scarier is where you may find this ingredient:
You’ll find it in: Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Potato Chips, Butter, Instant Mashed Potato, Baked Goods, Dessert Mixes
Found mostly in foods that catch children’s attention, food dyes are seen in every brilliant shade of the rainbow. These food dyes are synthetic chemicals that are made in a lab and never found in nature. The worse ones are Red no. 40, Blue No. 2, and Yellow No. 5. Its cheaper for the manufacturer to use these dyes rather than go through the cost and process of using fruits and vegetables to naturally color their foods. Food dyes were approved by the FDA beginning in the 1960’s. Today, there are nine artificial food dyes allowed for use and consumption in the food supply. Although considered “Generally Recognized As Safe” acronym (GRAS) by the FDA, studies have shown how these chemicals increase allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children and have been linked to ADHD. When lab rats were exposed to certain food dyes, brain and other types of cancers have been the result of using the dye. If you’re a good mom like me, you keep your child away from sugary foods which are usually the foods that most contain these dyes. But, there are many unsuspected foods with dyes so beware!
You’ll find it in: Baked Goods, Beverages, Cereal, Chips, Lunchables, Yogurt, Vitamins, Flavored Instant Oatmeal, Granola Bars, over the counter medicine for kids like cough medicine or anti-histamines
A synthetic preservative used to inhibit mold and yeast in food. The problem is in the affect parabens have on the body’s hormonal balance. Astudy in Food Chemical Toxicology found that daily ingestion decreased sperm and testosterone production in rats and parabens have been found in the tissue of breast cancer patients.
You’ll find it in: Soft Drinks, Frozen Dairy Products, Processed Vegetables, Beer, Sauces and Flavoring Syrups
Partially Hydrogenated Oil
It’s okay you say because you buy products that have “Trans Fat-Free” on the front right. Wrong! The FDA allows products to use this labeling as long as they have less than half a gram per serving. Meaning, you can have 0.49 grams per serving and still be labeled a no trans fat food. What does this mean for you? You can only consume two grams a day. That’s not a lot and you’re well on your way to artery-clogging trans fat and high cholesterol.
You’ll find it in: Margarine, Coffee Creamers (Dairy and Non Dairy), Baked Goods, Fried Foods, Packaged Snacks
As a child I watched my mom make “caramelo” to top her delicious homemade flan and I was always amazed how sugar and water would become this super sticky but incredibly yummy sauce. If used this way in products it wouldn’t be dangerous but the food industry has a different recipe. Ammonia is added to the sugar to treat and this can produce nasty carcinogens. That’s a nasty substance capable of causing cancer in a living tissue. And because of this I gave up my Diet Coke; a Center for Science in the Public Interest report found that roughly 15,000 cancers annually in the U.S were caused by caramel color found in soda.
You’ll find it in: Coke/Diet Coke, Pepsi/ Diet Pepsi, Seasoning, Barbecue Sauce, Gelatins, Cough Syrup
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Many of us know to steer clear of the ingredient MSG. But, here’s why. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein which is used as a flavor enhancer is a plant based protein. However, it has been chemically broken down into amino acids. One of the, glutamic acid, can release free glutamate. Your body contains free sodium and when these two join together they form monosodium glutamate (MSG). This additive is known to cause reactions such as headaches, weakness, nausea and other symptoms. The FDA is required to advise when it is added directly on ingredients labels but when it occurs as a byproduct of hydrolyzed protein, the FDA will allow it to go without notice and unrecognized.
You’ll find it in: Many Fast Food Restaurant Meals, Processed Foods, Chips and Dips
Avoid Toxic Ingredients by Eating as Natural and Fresh as Possible
We are already exposed to so much pollution, toxins and airborne illnesses. The least you can do is take control of what you put in your mouth. I’m not suggesting you throw everything in your pantry away and go 100% organic. I know it can get expensive and for some this means a major life change. What I do suggest is you take this list of 6 of the most harmful ingredients on Nutrition Food Labels and start there. Do your best to not buy products with these ingredients. Little by little, start making these changes in your life and incorporating a healthier lifestyle. I’ve always been into reading labels and trying to eat as healthy as I can but now that I have a daughter this has become my top priority for myself, for her and my family. She relies on me to take care of her and I refuse to cause her health damage because of the foods I give her. I also want to make sure that she learns how to eat now so she too becomes a health conscious adult some day and continues to promote wellness in her life and in others.