Be An Ingredient Detective At The Grocery Store
While grocery shopping, most people hope to get some sort of nutritional benefit from the food items on which they spend their hard-earned money.
In this article you will learn a few tricks to help you make a quick evaluation of the nutritional value of the item.
Here you will also learn how to quickly scan the ingredient list for the top eight commonly used, yet harmful ingredients.
The first thing to glance at when evaluating an item for nutritional content should be the ingredient label, not the Nutrient Facts label. For many people it is a daunting task, but let me give you a few hints to help you. You may even start to look forward to reading the labels!
Look at the length of the list of ingredients
Usually, the longer the list, the less healthy it is.
Look at the first 3 ingredients
Items are listed by quantity, so the first three should have obvious nutritional benefit.
Look at the last 3 ingredients
This is where you'll find artificial colors and preservatives listed if they are present.
Look to see if an ingredient has been listed separately in different forms
Ingredients such as sugar come in many different forms. A trick employed by food companies is to use many different forms so that they can be listed farther down the list (i.e., sugar, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, sorbital etc). If all the forms of sugar were added together, sugar might be the FIRST ingredient on the list!
Here Are The Top Eight Ingredients to Avoid
1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
This extremely common ingredient makes up approximately 10% of the calories consumed by the average American and has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and most recently, mercury contamination.
New studies conducted in January 2009 found that most sources of HFCS are contaminated with the toxic heavy metal mercury. According to David Wallinga, M.D. at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), "Mercury is toxic in all forms. Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply."
In one of the recent studies, Table A lists the total mercury detected in brand name foods and beverages high in HFCS. Products specifically mentioned include:
Pregnant woman and new mothers should be especially careful to avoid HFCS. In fetuses and infants, mercury exposure can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, shortened attention span, deafness, and blindness. Why take a chance?
Additionally, HFCS is made from genetically modified organisms (GMO's) which increase a person's risk of developing a food allergy to corn. Conventionally grown corn also contains toxins from the fertilizer and the pesticides used.
2. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG was declared unsafe for human consumption by the World Health Organization in 2004, yet is still allowed in food and beverages. MSG has been linked to obesity, vision loss, stomach cancer, headaches, fatigue, depression and more.
Even products that say "No MSG added" commonly contain it in other forms. Other potential forms of MSG include ingredients containing the words hydrolyzed, autolyzed, yeast extract, natural flavor, spices, maltodextrin, gelatin, whey protein, textured protein, seasoning salt, and rice syrup.
3. Artificial Sweeteners: Sucrolose (Splenda), Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal), and Saccharin (Sweet'N Low)
These artificial sweeteners can cause MANY symptoms including panic attacks, skin rashes, moodiness, diarrhea, bloating, seizures, and more.
They stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, stimulate fat storage leading to weight gain, kill your beneficial intestinal bacteria, and may increase your risk of cancer.
4. Carrageenan (E407)
Used as an inexpensive thickening agent. Widely used in dairy products.
May increase your risk of stomach ulcers and colon cancer
5. FD&C Artificial Colors
Linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
6. Trans Fats
Trans fats increase your bad cholesterol (LDL's), decrease your good cholesterol (HDL's), increase your triglycerides, and increase inflammation of your arteries (thereby making the cholesterol more likely to plug them up).
Eating trans fats increases you risk of a heart attack or stroke.
By law a product can contain up to 499 mg of trans fats per serving, yet list 0 trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label. You need to look for the words hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated, or shortening in the list of ingredients. These indicate that they are trans fats.
Nitrites increase your risk of leukemia, brain tumors and stomach cancer by combining with amines naturally present in meat to form cancer causing compounds. Children and fetuses are especially vulnerable.
Nitrites are commonly found in processed meats such as deli meats, pepperoni, hotdogs, bacon, and ham.
8. Synthetic Preservatives
May lead to stomach cancer, hyperactivity, ADHD, and allergic reactions including asthma attacks and hives
Synthetic preservatives include TBHQ (E319), potassium sorbate (E202), BHA, sulfer dioxide (E220), and sodium benzoate (E211).
Most people don't have time to read the ingredient label of everything they buy; instead, relying on wording on the front of the package (i.e., "Low Fat", "Whole Wheat", "Cholesterol-Free", "Sugar-Free", "All Natural", "No Trans Fats") to evaluate it.
If people do take the time to turn the package around, it is usually only to look at the Nutrition Facts label. The ironic thing is that the Nutrition Facts label gives no information about the QUALITY of the fat, carbohydrates, or protein! The quality is just as important as the quantity, maybe even more so.
Next time you're in the store, take time to at least glance at a few ingredient labels. Make your health a priority. Your body will thank you for it in the form of more energy and vitality.
If you have any questions about our certified organic products, please contact us at email@example.com.
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