Reading ingredient labels doesn’t have to be difficult. It is pretty simple in fact. 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 ingest. In general, each ingredient should be a whole food that isn’t processed. That said it can still be a bit daunting.
Below, I’ve listed five typical 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 take a pass and opt for something else.
- Sugar: Refined sugars should be avoided for several reasons:
- They raise your insulin levels and as a result, can depress the immune system, weakening your ability to fight disease.
- Further, they cause weight gain and promote storage of fat.
- Lastly, 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 your body’s nutrients.
- Bleached White Flour: Unbleached flour is a perfectly fine ingredient. However, if the product has bleached flour, stay away. 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.
- Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil / Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: Hydrogenated soybean oils are created because they have a higher melting point, which makes them attractive for baking and extends their shelf-life. Unfortunately, they aren’t attractive to you or your waistline. These fats can cause coronary disease and may be linked to cancer.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: In short, high-fructose corn syrup is an unnatural product that is a very, 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.
- Further, there is once again, no nutritional value, giving you only empty calories to digest.
- Lastly, this sweetener may be linked to several diseases including type 2 Diabetes.
- Aspartame/Saccharin/Sucralose/Phenylalkaline: Any artificial sweetener is bad for you. They are unnatural and are processed derivatives of food and/or chemicals that aren’t natural for us to digest. They can cause havoc on your metabolism and your energy levels. Further, there is strong evidence that these are toxic and may cause cancer, as well as other diseases.
Solution: Look for foods that are naturally sweetened (fruit or honey). If you must have sugar, opt for pure cane sugar that has not been refined.
Solution: If choosing a wheat or grain based product, consume those that have whole grains or unbleached flour.
Solution: Don’t consume products with these ingredients. Opt for those that have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead.
Solution: Opt for only natural sweeteners, foods that are naturally sweet (fruit or honey) or natural herbs, such as stevia.
Solution: Opt for only natural sweeteners or stevia, a natural sweet herb.
Notice, 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 are. When possible, always look for natural and whole foods. If a food is packaged, there is a good chance that there might be unwanted added preservatives or ingredients that you want to avoid.
- Fat: A Closer Look
- Carbohydrates: A Closer Look
- Easy Nutrition Guidelines
- Stevia: How Sweet it Is
- Reading Nutrition Labels
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