Reading ingredient labels is pretty simple. Basically, if you don’t know what the ingredient is, or if you have never heard of it, there is a good chance that it is a chemical or processed ingredient that you don’t want to consume. Generally, each ingredient should be a whole food that isn’t processed.
Below, are six common ingredients that you should avoid at all costs. And if they are listed first, second or third on the ingredient list of a packaged product, you definitely want to opt for something else.
1. Sugar: Refined sugars should always be avoided for several different reasons: They raise your insulin levels and as a result, can depress the immune system, weakening your ability to fight disease. Next, they cause weight gain and promote storage of fat. Also, refined sugars provide you with no vitamins or minerals, so in order for them to be metabolized, they draw on the body’s reserves of vitamins and minerals, depleting nutrients from your body.
Solution: Look for foods that are naturally sweetened (fruit or honey). If you must have sugar, opt for pure cane sugar.
2. Bleached White Flour: The bleaching process takes a lot of the nutrients and fiber out of the flour. As a result, the product ends up having mostly empty calories, providing little to no nutritional value to your diet.
Solution: If choosing a grain based product, consume those that have whole grains.
3. Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil / Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: Hydrogenated soybean oils are created because they have a higher melting point, which makes them useful for baking and extends their shelf-life. Unfortunately, they aren’t useful to you or your waistline. These fats cause coronary disease and may be linked to cancer.
Solution: Don’t consume products with these ingredients.
4. High Fructose Corn Syrup: High-fructose corn syrup is an unnatural product that is a very sweet, highly processed and refined cornstarch. This manufactured substance is sweeter than and digested differently than sugar. The body processes it directly through the liver and is then stored as fat.
There is once again, no nutritional value, giving you only empty calories to digest.
This sweetener may be linked to several diseases including type 2 Diabetes.
Solution: Opt for only natural sweeteners, foods that are naturally sweet (fruit or honey) or natural herbs, such as stevia.
5. Aspartame/Saccharin/Sucralose/Phenylalkaline: All artificial sweeteners are bad for you. They are unnatural and are processed derivatives of food and/or chemicals that are not natural for us to digest. They can cause havoc on your metabolism and your energy levels. There is strong evidence that these are toxic and may cause cancer, as well as other diseases.
Solution: Opt for only natural sweeteners or stevia.
6. Artificial Coloring: Artificial Colors are chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color.
They are linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.
Solution: Opt for foods that have been colored using fruit and vegetable extracts.
You may have noticed, these five ingredients are all either fat or sugar related. In general, the more you can avoid bad fats and refines sugars, the better off you will be. When possible, always look for natural and whole foods. If a food is packaged, there is a good chance that there might be preservatives or ingredients that you want to avoid.