Santa Monica Naturopathic Doctor | Amanda Frick, ND


5 Unhealthy Food Ingredients to Avoid

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By Michele Borboa

SheKnows Miso Vegan, August 3, 2011

Though you may be eschewing meat and dairy and avoiding the saturated fat and other toxins associated with animal products, those packaged vegan foods you’re buying aren’t doing your health any favors. Read the labels and steer clear of foods laden with these five unhealthy ingredients.

5 Food ingredients to avoid

1. High fructose corn syrup

Added to packaged foods, desserts and drinks, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be a cheap sweetener, but your waistline and health may pay the price. Though research is riddled with conflicting evidence regarding the impact of HFCS on metabolism and weight gain, there is emerging evidence that this ubiquitous sweetener can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. Best to be safe and opt for fresh or homemade foods or products with natural sweeteners.

2. Trans fat

The real “bad boy” of fat, trans fat has been shown to raise LDL cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease as well as lower good-for-you HDL cholesterol. The American Heart Association warns that trans fat should be no more than 1% of your total fat intake.

3. Refined grains

Enriched or bleached flour have been stripped of fiber and nutrients beneficial for overall health. Even though many bread products, cereals, pasta, and baked goods are made with refined grains, you can find whole wheat and whole grain products if you read labels. Opt for labels listing 100 percent wheat flour and at least 3 grams of fiber.

4. Artificial colorings

Studies suggest that artificial colorings – Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2 to name just a few – may lead to cancer, allergies and other maladies, but aren’t dangerous enough to be banned from use in foods and drinks. Since many products with artificial colorings aren’t necessarily the healthiest in the first place, limit or eliminate their place in your family’s diet or choose products that are naturally hued.

5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

If you frequently experience migraines, nausea, shortness of breath or irregular heart beats, after eating certain processed foods, check the labels. Added as a flavor enhancer, MSG does cause adverse reactions in people who are sensitive to it. Research hasn’t concluded that MSG poses a health risk, but you can avoid it by choosing MSG-free products.