Watch Out for These 5 Ingredients

Eating 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 »



4 Comments
Lead Guitar
Mar 2nd, 2015
Curious about carrageenan and almond milk. I typically have almond milk with cereal every morning. Because of prior heart disease (stents implanted seven years ago), but no heart attack I don't consume too many dairy products other than non-fat yogurt and 1% milk if almond milk is not available. Should I eliminate almond milk and return to 1% milk or not use any type of "milk."
1 Reply
MDVIP
Mar 2nd, 2015
Greetings,

Thank you for asking a question that your fellow MDVIP members may be wondering about, as well. Do you need to remove otherwise nutritional foods – such as almond milk – from your diet because of an additive such as carrageenan? Actually, you don’t. Use this handy shopping guide - http://www.cornucopia.org/shopping-guide-to-avoiding-organic-foods-with-carrageenan/
- from The Cornucopia Institute to learn which dairy and dairy alternative foods are produced with and without carrageenan. Now you can have the best of both worlds. Enjoy!

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Derick Craig
Feb 4th, 2015
Will you please provide the source(s) for the reports suggesting that whey protein contains trace amounts of heavy metals? I've consumed whey protein on a daily basis for years. I've never heard or read anything about this, so I'm quite curious, if not concerned. Further, how does the whey, being a by-product of milk, pick up heavy metals, if the milk doesn't contain heavy metals? Also, above it mentions whey isolate. Is this the case only for whey isolate, or other forms of whey as well, such as concentrate or peptides? What about casein protein, which is also a milk protein? Thanks.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Feb 26th, 2015
Greetings Derick,

Thank you for replying with your concerns about various forms of whey protein. Whey protein isolate is not the same as whey protein. It is a highly processed variation that often involves heating whey powder to a very high temperature and flushing it with acid, which strips the powder of its nutrients. When tested in laboratory conditions, researchers have found that whey isolate is often contaminated with synthetic additives, chemical detergents, pesticides and heavy metals. For more information, refer to these articles from WebMD, Consumer Reports and Food Matters.
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20100603/report-protein-drinks-have-unhealthy-metals
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/july/food/protein-drinks/overview/index.htm
http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/not-all-whey-protein-is-created-equal

In Good Health,
MDVIP


David Sintes
Jan 19th, 2015
hello
Mercy Wright
Jan 12th, 2015
Thanks for the warning about carrageenan. Picked up what I thought was vanilla ice cream at the grocery story ("Breyers Extra Creamy Vanilla - velvety smooth and deliciously creamy") and served it with a homemade apple pie. The whole family hated it. The "ice cream" didn't melt or dissolve in your mouth. Afterwards I got a terrible stomach ache and diarrhea. The next day I took the package out of the freezer to take a closer look at the ingredients. Noticed first of all the words "frozen dairy dessert" - it wasn't ice cream at all. The ingredients, in falling order, started with milk, sugar, corn syrup. Prominently among the additives: carrageenan. I threw the "dessert" in the kitchen sink and started pouring hot water on it to dissolve it. After five minutes, the clump of fake ice cream was still a clump of fake ice cream. I called Breyers to complain about this product and was told to be more careful in the future and pick a package that was clearly marked "ice cream".
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jan 14th, 2015
Greetings Mercy,

Sorry to hear that you had such an uncomfortable dietary experience. Unfortunately, the food industry adds inexpensive thickeners and sweeteners to augment flavor and texture – even to many organic food products – that can cause short-term intestinal distress and long-term conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and diabetes. Nutritional experts have been working with the FDA for years to remove many of these ingredients. Until that happens, to better know what’s in your desserts, you might want to consider making your own quick and healthy recipes. Try this peach frozen yogurt recipe found here on the MDVIP Member portal - https://connect.mdvip.com/member/nutrition/view/peach_frozen_yogurt. To find this recipe – and nearly 2,000 more desserts – log in to your MDVIP Member portal at https://mdvip.com/login, then click on the icon of the plate with a fork and knife at the top. On the My Nutrition page, click on the Recipes tab, where you’ll see three main choices on the left. Click on Type of Dish, then select the drop down arrow in Desserts to see them organized by type. Or click on the Dessert tab underneath to see the entire collection. Let us know which recipes you enjoy the most. Also, tell us about any other deceptive ingredients you find on food labels while you’re out shopping.

In Good Health,
MDVIP
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