Expert Vegan Cooking Tips
Seven Scary Things Lurking in Your Food
We're happy to help you decipher this mess that's been made of our food supply. By one estimate, there are over 3,000 additives being used with the approval of our government. Knowing which additives are safe and which ones may be toxic or carcinogenic can be a tricky proposition - even for the most seasoned label reader!
Here's what we've done to make this matter easier to digest. We've compiled a list of the 7 worst and most commonly used junk ingredients that are found in leading brand name foods (even in many foods portrayed as healthy).
Make it a point to avoid these deadly 7 additives and you and your family will be well ahead of the health and weight loss curve!
Article continues below
7 Worst Junk Ingredients to Avoid:
1. Sodium Nitrate (also called Sodium Nitrite)
This is a preservative, coloring, and flavoring commonly found in processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts and smoked fish. Studies have shown that it reacts with the body's digestive acids to form a cancer-causing agent called nitrosamines. Editor's note: This being a common ingredient in processed meats, vegans have no cause for concern. We've done a bit of research and not found sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite in any of the vegan products we looked at. If anyone is aware of such, please do let us know. But if you live with a meat-eater, this is one ingredient you can and should encourage them to avoid. Serve some delicious meat-free substitutes. You may eventually eliminate meat from their diet altogether. ;).
2. Aspartame (aka NutraSweet/Equal)
In scientific terms, this is a chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol. It's better known by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, which are sweeteners found in countless "diet" desserts, drink mixes, and soft drinks. Aspartame was once thought to be a safe artificial sweetener, but it is now believed to cause cancer and neurological problems such as dizziness and hallucinations.
This artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is often found in chewing gum and soft drinks. When tested in the laboratory, it caused cancer in rats. And that makes this additive a lot less sweet in our opinion!
4. Artificial Food Colorings
There are food colorings being used that are linked with cancer in animal testing as well as behavioral disorders in children. These include Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 and Yellow 6. Amazingly, these colors have been banned in the United Kingdom yet remain in many American foods. They can easily be avoided by choosing natural foods that aren?t chemically or colorfully enhanced.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in many soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees and restaurant food. This nasty additive can tinker with the nervous system causing side effects like migraines and overeating in some individuals. MSG appears on labels under several aliases, including yeast extract and calcium caseinate. It's even been found on the labels of organic products! Here's a list of the common aliases for MSG.
6. Trans Fats
Trans fats cause heart disease. It's a proven fact. Before purchasing any packaged food, check the ingredients list. Even if the label boasts "0g trans fats" BEWARE... The product may still contain up to a 0.5g of trans fats per serving, if you see the words partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list. It's important to avoid even the smallest amount because it can raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, making you susceptible to all kinds of health problems!
7. Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is a preservative used in many foods and beverages. This ingredient is known to cause hives, asthma and other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. New research shows that it may also cause behavioral disorders in children. One more reason to avoid this harmful ingredient: When used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) it forms benzene, a known carcinogen. Some drink manufacturers are still using this toxic duo, so you may have benzene lurking in your favorite drink!