Think back to the last time you went grocery shopping. You were busy. Your kids were tired, hungry, and you just wanted to get home. You got everything (and more) on your list . . .but did you even think to check the labels of everything you threw in the cart? Well, don’t feel (too) bad. I used to do the same thing. I mean, food is food, isn’t it? Unfortunately, today, not all ingredients are created equal. There are many ingredients, hazardous and dangerous to your health, that lurk and hide under multiple pseudonyms in your packaged foods. Once I started reading labels I was amazed at the amount of extra things that I never knew were even necessary, and most ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce. 90% of the time, I had literally no idea what the ingredient was, could be, or how it would affect me. Let’s take a look at five you should avoid like the plague.
1. Fructose Syrup: AKA Corn Syrup / Isoglucose / Maize Syrup / Natural Corn Syrup
Yes, the names are endless. Who knew there were so many names for corn syrup!? Corn syrup is a highly processed additive that causes many adverse health effects and can also lead to dangerous conditions later in life. What foods contain corn syrup? After I started reading labels, I was shocked. Appalled. Why is there corn syrup in pickles? In yogurt? Breads? Energy bars? Our bodies are not designed to consume that much sugar on a regular basis, and also in such a degenerate form. Corn syrup can cause cancer (cancer cells love sugar), leaky gut syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and more. Regardless of its huge negative implications, it is also completely void of nutrients; virtually empty calories with zero benefits. Stick to natural sweeteners like organic coconut sugar, quality maple syrup, and real honey.
2. Carrageenan: AKA PES / Irish Moss / Vegetable Gelatin / Sodium Benzoate
Carrageenan is another very common ingredient in so many foods from ice cream to dairy products to coconut milk. Carrageenan is a known carcinogen. Surprised? Why is it in so many foods that we eat? What does carrageenan do to you? It is a powerful inflammatory agent (the foundation of the majority of illness) and again, a known carcinogen. As of right now, in the United States, it is completely legal for this hazardous toxin to be used even in organic food. Check that label.
3. Sodium nitrate: AKA Potassium Nitrate
You know those delicious lunch meats you buy for sandwiches? Sodium nitrate is a salt that is added to preserve meat. It is found in bacon, jerky, sausages, hot dogs, ham, deli meat, smoked fish, salami, and more. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but once again sodium nitrate is carcinogenic. This sneaky ingredient is linked to cancer (of course), leukemia, heart disease, and also complications in pregnancy. Organic, hormone free meat may be more expensive, but it is definitely worth avoiding harmful toxins.
4. Red #3 AKA Erythrosine (Also similar to Red 40)
Red #3 is a dye commonly used in ice cream, baked goods, sausage casings, candy, popsicles, and even medicine. This dye is used to make food look more appealing, and to sometimes conceal the fact that there are actually no vegetables or fruits in the product – for example, cherry popsicles that don’t actually have any cherries in them. Red #3 (and others) has been found to cause cancer in animals, therefore making it a carcinogenic substance. It has also been linked to thyroid cancer, as well as causing DNA damage while your baby is in the womb.
5. Potassium Bromate
Potassium Bromate is added to increase the volume of breads, enhancing their elasticity. This is found in all sorts of foods: rolls, French toast, cookies, pizza, breadsticks, turnovers, muffins, meatballs, and cakes. This little buddy is another proven carcinogen – we do not need to be putting cancer-causing foods into our mouths. Potassium Bromate disrupts your cell’s genetic material, damages the DNA, causes reproductive harm, and leads to cancer development.
Whew. And that’s only five of them. There are plenty more. Don’t be fooled by labels like “natural”, “all- natural”, “sugar free” or “100% natural ingredients. I have picked up supposedly sugar free products only to read the label and find corn syrup on the back. You have to pick up the box and check for yourself. No one else is going to take care of your health for you.
Avoid fast food. Buy whole, real foods. Ditch the packaged option. Make your food from scratch – this way you know exactly what’s in it, not to mention it will taste so much better. Eat hormone free dairy and meat. Take those extra few seconds to read those labels – protect your own and your family’s health. Be informed. Avoid these 5 hazardous ingredients lurking in your grocery store’s food aisles. Happy grocery shopping!