Why You Should Always Read The Ingredient List

With all the incredible advances in food science and preparation in the last century, it’s of no surprise that 50% of foods in a typical supermarket are prepackaged or prepared. They need little to no preparation to be eaten. Is this too good to be true? Unfortunately, it is.

There is a dark side to this quick convenience. The majority of the foods on those middle aisles of grocery stores contain chemicals and additives that have been researched and proven to harm either a human being or a laboratory animal.

In my previous article, Can’t Read It, Don’t Eat It Part I, I covered the dangers of the following: sodium nitrates and nitrites, aspartame, and artificial food dyes. Part II will shine light on three other popular ingredients to avoid:

  • Food Preservatives
  • Flavor Enhancers
  • Artificial Sweeteners

Food Ingredients To Place On Your Radar

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup – Artificial Sweetener

The most popular sweet “poison” of all refined grains is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a highly-refined artificial sweetener which has become the number one source of calories in America, according to researchers at Tufts University. HFCS is found in most processed foods, sodas, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, and cereals.

Why is it bad if it’s made from corn? Fructose from high fructose corn syrup needs to be converted to fat or glycogen (stored carbs) by the liver before it can be used as fuel. HFCS adds unnatural amounts of fructose to your diet, which the human body has not evolved to handle properly.

HFCS increases triglycerides (a “bad” cholesterol), boosts fat-storing hormones, contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, and drives people to overeat and gain weight. If a product contains HFCS on the ingredient list, put it back and find an equivalent without HFCS.

The Healthy Choice: Choose Stevia (an herbal sweetener), raw honey, coconut sugar, Erythritol (sugar alcohol), or Monk fruit (luo han guo fruit).

2. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG or E621) – Artificial Flavor Enhancer

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a salt that is chemically converted into an artificial savory or umami flavor enhancer. MSG is found mainly in highly palatable and “addictive” savory foods, such as processed snacks, crackers, chips, salad dressings, instant ramen, frozen entrees, seasonings and marinades, canned soups, lunch meats, and Chinese restaurant foods.

Research has shown that MSG damages the appetite regulation center in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that signals the “I’m full” feeling. This explains the effects of overeating and weight gain. This addictive flavor enhancer is an excitotoxin, a substance which over stimulates the brain causing the production of excessive amounts of dopamine. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in liver inflammation, depression, fatigue, headaches, weight gain and obesity.

The Healthy Choice: Buy whole foods and prepare them at home with spices and herbs. Simply ask your favorite Chinese restaurant to omit MSG when cooking your dishes. Become an expert at label reading and knowing the various disguises under which MSG travels, such as Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622), Magnesium Glutamate (E 625), yeast extract, anything “hydrolyzed”, etc.

3. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) – Artificial Preservative Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are fried oils that have been used, left to cool, and then reheated and used again to prevent foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. These preservatives are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, frozen sausages, candy, shortening, lard, jello and vegetable oils.

Research suggests that both BHA and BHT are potential carcinogens and endocrine disrupters because they mimic the hormonal actions of estrogen. The National Toxicology Program has concluded that BHT has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in animals. There is also evidence that some people may have difficulty metabolizing BHA and BHT, resulting in health and behavior changes.

The Healthy Choice: Eat more fresh and minimally processed foods. Look for packaged foods that use other preservatives, such as vitamin E or have no preservatives at all.

Can’t Read It, Don’t Eat It!

Adopt a zero-tolerance policy of toxic ingredients by always reading the ingredients labels! If an ingredient has numbers, acronyms, or anything else you don’t recognize as natural, put it back and choose an alternative product with clean and recognizable ingredients. Many man-made chemicals are seen as foreign to our bodies, which often results in unhealthy consequences.

  • The Easiest Way To Avoid Toxic Ingredients – Evolve Your Diet and Speak Up!
  • Choose products with clean and natural ingredients
  • Avoid fast foods
  • Enjoy more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Switch to hormone and antibiotic-free meat and dairy
  • Buy organic when possible

If you can’t part ways with a favorite product, simply request the company brand to make a healthier version – trust me, they’re listening!

Call to Action:

  • By urging food companies to substitute healthier ingredients, they will cater to what their consumers demand. A healthier change begins by taking the initiative to speak up and encourage food companies to use higher quality ingredients.

About the author

Charlene Wang has been helping people meet their health and fitness goals in California and Colorado
Charlene Wang

Charlene Wang has been helping people meet their health and fitness goals in California and Colorado. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with professional certifications in Alternative Nutrition, Applied Kinesiology, and Healing Touch. Her professional services include health risk assessments, weight loss plans, food sensitivity testing, disease prevention education, personalized health coaching, a variety of nutrition and health education classes, and energy healing therapy.

Charlene currently runs her own private practice in Colorado Springs called Auric Nutrition & Wellness. She also consults for a new integrative health clinic called the International Health & Wellness Center located within the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.

Auric Nutrition & Wellness
2110 Hollow Brook Drive, Suite 104
Colorado Springs, CO 80918