Commercially manufactured food products are bursting with additives that make it more palatable, attractive and ensure long lasting freshness. However, regular intake of these additive-filled foods are shown to cause cancers, auto immune diseases, heart diseases, asthma, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain damage, digestive distress, irritability and early signs of ageing among young and old alike. Look out for the following additions to the ‘ingredients’ list while buying your packet foods.
1. Sugar substitutes or Sweeteners
- Saccharin: Carcinogen found to cause bladder cancer in rats. (Worst Offender)
- Aspartame: An excitotoxin and thought to be a carcinogen. Can cause dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and stomach problems.
- High fructose corn syrup: Sweetener made from corn starch. Made from genetically-modified corn. Causes obesity, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and insulin resistance.
- Acesulfame potassium: Used with other artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and ice cream. Linked to lung and breast tumors in rats.
- Sucralose: Splenda. Can cause swelling of liver and kidneys and a shrinkage of the thymus gland.
- Agave nectar: Sweetener derived from a cactus. Contains high levels of fructose, which causes insulin resistance, liver disease and inflammation of body tissues.
- Bleached starch: Can be used in many dairy products. Thought to be related to asthma and skin irritations.
- Tert butylhydroquinone: Used to preserve fish products. Could cause stomach tumors at high doses.
- Other Natural & Artificial sweeteners like Alitame (E956), Aspartame – Acesulfme salt (E962), Cyclamate (E952), Glycerol (E422), Maltitol (E965), Xylitol (E967), Mannitol (E421), Neohesperidin (E959), Neotame (E961) and Sorbitol (E420)
These sweeteners are commonly found in diet or sugar free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and over gelatins), desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breathmints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals and most processed foods.
2. Preservatives & Flavour enhancers
Most packet foods have a high dose of additives added to ensure freshness, improve flavour and extend the shelf life of a particular product. You may want to watch out for these additions while reading labels;
- Mono sodium glutamate (MSG) – is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, snacks, frozen entrees, seasonings, frozen meats and many restaurant foods. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity.
- Sodium Sulfite (E221) – is a preservative used in wine-making, dried fruit and other processed foods. It causes breathlessness & asthmatic tendencies in individuals that react to these chemicals.
- Sodium Nitrate & Sodium Nitrite – used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring in bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, corned beef, smoked fish and other processed meats. This ingredient, which sounds harmless, is actually highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. It’s actually a color fixer, and it makes old, dead meats appear fresh and vibrant.
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) & Butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) – found in cereals, gum, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
- Sulphur Dioxide (E220) – found in beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, and potato products; this compound causes bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E. Not recommended for consumption by children.
- Potassium Bromate – an additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals. Even small amounts in bread can create problems for humans.
- Citric acid
- Leavening agents
3. Food colours
- Red #40: Found in many foods to alter color. All modern food dyes are derived from petroleum. A carcinogen that is linked to cancer in some studies. Also can cause hyperactivity in children. Banned in some European countries. (Worst Offender)
- Blue #1: Used in bakery products, candy and soft drinks. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer.
- Blue #2: Used in candy and pet food beverages. Can cause brain tumors
- Citrus red #1: Sprayed on oranges to make them look ripe. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer.
- Citrus red #2: Used to color oranges. Can cause cancer if you eat the peel.
- Green #3: Used in candy and beverages. May cause bladder tumors.
- Yellow #5: Used in desserts, candy and baked goods.Thought to cause kidney tumors, according to some studies.
- Yellow #6: A carcinogen used in sausage, beverages and baked goods. Thought to cause kidney tumors, according to some studies.
- Red #2: A food coloring that may cause both asthma and cancer.
- Red #3: A carcinogen. that is added to cherry pie filling, ice cream and baked goods. May cause nerve damage and thyroid cancer.
- Caramel coloring: In soft drinks, sauces, pastries and breads. When made with ammonia, it can cause cancer in mice. Food companies not required to disclose if this ingredient is made with ammonia.
- Brown HT: Used in many packaged foods. Can cause hyperactivity in children, asthma and cancer.
- Orange B: A food dye that is used in hot dog and sausage casings. High doses are bad for the liver and bile duct.
- Bixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
- Norbixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
- Annatto: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
4. Trans fat & saturated fat
The major cause of heart disease, elevated lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes and overweight is the consumption of highly saturated fat and trans fat. If the product you are buying contain any of these listed in the ingredients section, then its time to put it back on the shelf.
- Hydrogenated oils
- Saturated fat
- Coconut oil, palm oil, canola oil
5. Emulsifiers & Leavening agents
Used to avoid caking of powders, to ensure even baking of breads and to keep chips crisp, these agents are widely associated with digestive disorders, constipation and weight gain when consumed on a regular basis.
- E471 (glyceryl mono stearate) – found in cakes, hot-chocolate mix, shaped crisps, quick custard mix, packet dessert topping, dehydrated potato, sponge puddings, low-calorie cream, margarine and loaf at spreads, ice cream
- E472a (aceticesters of fatty acids) – found in coating for meat products, nuts and fruits, bread, dessert toppings, cheese, cake
- E472b (lactic esters of fatty acids) – found in low calorie spreads, peanut butter, ice cream, macaroni, noodles, potato products, bakery products, whipped toppings
- E472c (citric esters of fatty acids) – found in infant formula and follow on milk and other foods for infants and young children
- E472e (acetyl tartaric esters of fatty acids) – found in bread, hot chocolate mix, gravy granules, frozen pizza
In conclusion, it is the safest to eat freshly cooked food – which is prepared under your supervision.
- Avoid eating at fast food joints – eat at a local deli or a gourmet restaurant
- Refrain from buying ready to eat dinners and frozen dinners – plan in advance and get good kitchen equipment to help you ease out your cooking process
- Prefer fresh cuts of meat over cured & frozen meat
- Buy fresh fruit & vegetables than buying pre-cut or pre-cooked or canned veggies/ fruits – they taste heavenly & your body loves it
- Avoid buying off the shelf snacks, sauces, sodas, fruit beverages, cookies, candies and preserves – it is much tastier & healthier to make them at home