Having access to supermarkets, stocked with any food that your heart desires, is a total luxury. You can walk down any isle and find something that you like. Unfortunately, just because the food is there doesn’t mean that it’s healthy.
There are many foods that claim to be healthy when in fact they are detrimental to our bodies. For example, a family cereal might claim that it’s high in fiber, which may be true -- but it can also be loaded with artificial sweeteners, refined sugar, and artificial coloring.
Additionally, preservatives and food additives are also important to watch out for. It’s next to impossible to remember all of the harmful ingredients out there, so we’ve made a list of the what’s considered to be the top three most harmful food additives. Brace yourselves to be disturbed.
1. MSG or Monosodium Glutamate
MSG is a now well-known additive that has thankfully gained a bad rap over the past few years. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, it can be found in approximately 80% of processed foods. It’s usually used in restaurants as a way to make the food taste better.
When food is hurriedly prepared in a kitchen assembly line, it’s hard to make the dishes explode with flavor like they would if they were slow cooked for hours -- so MSG (an acid) is used to trick the taste buds. Restaurants also like it because of its low cost. But MSG doesn’t just exist in fast food; you can find it in heavily processed products like deli-meats and canned soup.
The risks: The risks of eating this dangerous additive include eye damage, fatigue, depression, headache and even disorientation.Warning: Just because a label claims “No Added MSG”, doesn’t mean that it’s completely MSG free. Dr. Lipman states on his website that even some organic foods have been known to hide the nasty additive in their recipes.
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
According to Livestrong.com, High-fructose corn syrup ends up saving the food industry a ton of money because of its cost efficiency; it saved American consumers more than $3.8 billion over the past decade. So what the heck is HFCS? As Wikipedia states, “High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (also called glucose-fructose and isoglucose) is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been processed by glucose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose.”
It was first introduced to the food industry in the ‘70’s and began taking over because of its sweet taste and affordable prices. In 2012, the request to use the term “corn sugar” to describe HFCS was denied by the FDA because the “chemically produced sweetener” didn’t meet their definition of sugar.
The risks: Studies comparing HFCS and table sugar were conducted, proving that rats that consumed HFCS gained an abnormal amount of body fat compared to rats that ate only table sugar. It was also determined that the rodents had higher triglyceride levels that could potentially lead to heart disease and diabetes.
HFCS has no nutritional value either, so it’s best to stay far away from foods containing the ingredient such as granola bars, pop, and fruit juice. If you look hard enough, you can find completely healthy alternatives that are sweet and delicious and AREN’T detrimental to your health. Check out our previous blog posts about the benefits of sugarcane juice.
Like MSG, Aspartame is so taboo these days that the word itself sounds like a profanity. I know that when I read aspartame on a label, I shudder with disgust. I’ve personally suffered migraines and witnessed the frightening long-term effects from ingesting aspartame (ulcers, vomiting and chronic nausea).
Conversely, Pepsi has committed to nixing the artificial sweetener from their diet-pop due to growing concern about the prolonged effects of drinking the dangerous chemical. But the cold, hard truth is that the corporation is only replacing one harmful chemical with another (sucralose/Splenda).
The dangers of aspartame: Monsanto actually funded a study to find possible birth defects caused by aspartame, and was then cut short after conclusive data proved the dangerous effects of the chemical.
Aspartame is suspected of causing brain damage, especially in fetuses. Researchers have suggested that aspartame can be associated with minor symptoms like dizziness and more serious issues like mental retardation. If you need more convincing to quit eating this horrifying ingredient, an FDA statistician stated all the way back in 1981 that, “the brain tumor data on aspartame was so "worrisome" that he could not recommend approval of NutraSweet™”
We know that this is a lot to take in. Most of it is common knowledge but sometimes we all need an extra reminder. Not all food that is found in our supermarkets and grocery stores can be trusted. Of course, we all have those days where we want to reach for a nice fizzy can of soda when we’re relaxing at the beach, or we’re tempted to eat a sugar-free granola bar to save ourselves the extra calories. Luckily, there are healthier alternatives to the dangerous “foods” listed above.
Stevia is a natural ingredient that is known for being very sweet and yet low in calories and sugar-free. Lots of distributors are adding this natural sweetener to their products to accommodate the changing preferences of consumers. Though for now, some doctors suggest eating stevia in moderation and keeping a close eye on the effects due to lack of evidence to support its safety.
Have you had any bad experiences with additives, preservatives and sweeteners in processed foods? Leave us a comment or send us an email and you may be featured in one of our blog posts.