You never know these days what you are going to find in your food so I always read the ingredient list before I eat anything. I try to eat as close to nature as possible, but sometimes you just can't avoid eating packaged food. Here is the list of ingredients I look for and will not eat.
- Hydrogenated Oils. These are better known as trans fat. They are made when oil is heated to a very high temperature to the point where it changes the molecular makeup of the oil. The hydrogens are placed on either side of each other instead of side by side in normal "cis" formation. These oils are used because they act as a preservative for food and help make foods like peanut butter creamier and give baked goods that buttery taste. The problem is they wreak havoc on the body, in particular the heart. They are about as close to eating plastic sludge as you can get without actually consuming plastic. Doctors have been quoted comparing the consumption of hydrogenated oils to smoking cigarettes. That's how bad they are for you. Beware food products that say "0 trans fat" on the front, always read the ingredient label and look for "hydrogenated oil" because food companies are allowed to say 0 trans fat if the amount of trans fat per serving is lower than a certain percentage.
- Corn Syrup: (This includes High Fructose corn syrup). Corn syrup is nothing more than high concentrations of fructose in the form of a syrup. Fructose in of itself is horrible for the body because of the way it metabolizes it and the body almost immediately stores it as fat instead of breaking it down like other forms of sugar. Not to mention high fructose corn syrup is highly processed and made from genetically modified corn (which you can read more about below). Consumption of HFCS is linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, & obesity.
- Artificial Sweeteners: There are countless studies showing the dangerous side effects of these so called "safe" chemical concoctions. But companies like Pepsi & Coca Cola who want the ability to use them in their diet drinks have paid for their own research showing that the consumption of these sweeteners is totally "safe". Which explains the conflicting information out there regarding these sweeteners. Once in the body they are converted to formaldehyde and have been linked to numerous kinds of cancers, leukemia, lymphoma and MS. Not to mention, studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners actually results in increased weight gain because once they hit the tongue they trick the body into thinking it will be receiving sugar so it prepares itself by releasing hormones to metabolize the sugar. When it does not receive that sugar, it leads to cravings and ultimately binging on sugary foods to overcompensate for the loss of sugar. These fake sweeteners haven't been around that long and with a list of disease linkages like that I'd rather not take my chances. Stick to the sugars mother nature gave us like honey, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar and 100% pure stevia leaf. The most commonly used artificial sweeteners to look for on ingredient lists are Sucralose (Splenda), Aspartame, & Acesulfame-K. If you would like to read more about artificial sweeteners you can read about them here.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage & even death, causing brain damage to varying degrees. MSG is put into food because it is addictive and will cause you to eat more of it (therefore you buy more leading to more profit for that company). It also adds a certain savory taste to food. It is linked to many neurological disorders such as migraines, seizures, endocrine disorders, certain forms of obesity and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's & Huntington disease. Beware, it hides under many different names on ingredient lists, here is a list of all the names it can hide under (the FDA doesn't require labels to state MSG in ingredient lists).
- Artificial Colors: Red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6 and red 3 are acknowledged by the Food and Drug Administration as known carcinogens (cancer causing). They are also linked to hyperactivity in children and are said to be as damaging to the brain as lead in gasoline, yet they still continue to put this junk in our food. Not to mention they are simply in our food for aesthetic purposes to make it look more appetizing and aren't even needed!
- Preservatives: BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydrozyttoluene) is banned in pretty much every country but the US and is used in a lot of processed foods to preserve them and prolong their shelf life. In studies, 100% of the animals studied showed tissue inflammation, enlargement and/or growths and cancer in 35%. TBHQ is a preservative derived from petroleum that is used in perfumes, varnishes, and oil field chemicals and is linked to stomach tumors. It's also used as a preservative in your precious Chick Fila sandwiches. Another ingredient to look out for, Sodium Benzoate, is found in sprite, cake mixes and lots of other processed foods and when combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) forms a known carcinogen, Benzene that damages cell DNA and causes accelerated aging. Other preservatives to look out for and avoid: propylene glycol, dimethylpolysiloxane (an antifoaming agent found in Mcdonald's french fries, as well as caulks & sealants, silly putty and breast implants!), Azodicarbonamide.
- Non-Organic Corn & Soy. 88% of the corn and 93% of the soy crops in the US are genetically modified. Since GMOs are not required to be labeled, the only way to avoid eating GMOs is to eat organic because by US law, anything labeled organic cannot be genetically modified. You can read here, here & here why you want to avoid GMOs.