Watch Out for These 5 Ingredients
January 12, 2015Eating healthier foods is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. However, good intentions can backfire if you are selecting foods with hidden unhealthy ingredients. Before buying packaged food items, be sure to read the labels to see if the following red-flag terms are listed among the ingredients. |
Carrageenan – a seaweed-based sugar molecule that is used as a thickening agent in many processed foods, particularly low-fat and organic varieties, to improve texture. Foods commonly containing carrageenan include dairy products, dairy alternatives (like soy and almond milk), frozen meals and desserts, soups, deli meats and nutritional drink supplements. Carrageenan appears to be detrimental to our health as it triggers an immune system response similar to that of food poisoning. Having an overactive immune system on a regular basis can lead to inflammation. Experts believe chronic inflammation of the digestive system raises the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, a group of disorders that includes colitis, Crohn’s disease and colorectal cancer.
Maltodextrin – a term given to artificial sweeteners derived from cornstarch and enzymes used as an additive or sugar substitute in processed foods. Because maltodextrin is only mildly sweet, it is also used as a thickening or binding agent and appears on the labels of snacks, cereals and many frozen and canned food items. Even though cornstarch is a primary ingredient of maltodextrin, it lacks nutritional value and the benefits of a complex carbohydrate and is associated with unexplained weight gain, gastrointestinal distress and allergic reactions like rashes and breathing difficulties, including asthma exacerbations.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – a flavor enhancer popularized by its use in Chinese food and canned items. However, food manufacturers use MSG in other products like chicken (particularly at fast food restaurants), sausage and parmesan cheese products, as well as many sauces, gravies and dressings. For years, MSG has gotten a bad rap for causing headaches, nausea and heart palpitations. More recently, researchers began linking it with neurological and endocrine disorders, including obesity. The culprit ingredient in MSG is glutamate, a compound that also may appear on labels as yeast extract, calcium caseinate or beef flavoring.
Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP) - a soybean-based meat alternative that serves as a source of protein in many processed foods. Although deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, TVP is often highly processed and chemically altered, leading many nutrition experts wondering if TVP could be harmful to our health. For instance, TVP manufacturers rely on artificial colorings, flavor enhancers like MSG and thickening agents such as nitrosamine (a known carcinogen) to enhance the appearance, taste and texture of it. To find out which vegetables are a good source of protein, continue reading this article from MDVIP Connect.
Whey Protein Isolate or Soy Protein Isolate – a supplement made from protein stripped from whey (watery portion of milk that remains after curds have formed) or soybean. It is commonly found in protein bars, meal-replacement shakes and many processed foods. Reports suggest that whey protein isolate contains trace amounts of heavy metals, which can lead to low-level heavy metal poisoning if too much whey protein is consumed on a long-term basis. As for soy protein, since it is very often made from genetically modified soybeans that are bred to withstand heavy herbicides, soy ingredients usually have an herbicide residue which is ingested. For more on protein-enhanced foods, continue reading this MDVIP Connect article.
There are many hidden ingredients in processed foods, even foods made with organic ingredients. And while many are harmless flavor enhancers or preservatives, others can be harmful when consumed on a regular basis. Reading food labels can help you become familiar with questionable ingredients, as well as recognize food-label deceptions. Learn how to avoid dietary toxins by reading this MDVIP Connect article »