You would think with all of the governmental food regulations in place there would be nothing but healthy foods available. But it’s amazing how many toxic ingredients are in the foods that line the shelves of our grocery stores.
Since healthy eating is one of my top concerns and interests, I have been reading the ingredients labels more closely then ever. I did a bit of research and let me tell you - I found some really nasty ingredients that, in my humble opinion, nobody should be eating.
The Top 5 Toxic Ingredients in Our Foods Today
The following are disgusting, toxic ingredients that can do massive damage to our bodies.
1. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
MSG is basically an ingredient used to get people addicted to food. It excites the cells in our brain, making us crave this particular food even if it isn’t the most delicious thing known to man.
MSG is a really common ingredient in packaged soup and salad dressings, along with hidden MSG ingredients like hydrolyzed protein and autolyzed yeast extract.
Popular Food With MSG - Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup
I haven't had this in years and I am glad I haven't. This image was taken directly from the Campbell's website.
Healthy Alternative - Amy's Organic Black Bean Soup
Image taken directly from Amy's website.
Scare factor: It doesn’t just cause addiction; it can kill off brain cells.
2. BHT and BHA (Butylated Hydrozyttoluene and Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
Wow—don’t those names sound appetizing? These are chemical preservatives used in gum, cereals, granola bars, oils and chips.
BHT is used as a preservative in food, but it’s also found in jet fuel and embalming fluids. BHA, a food stabilizer and preservative, is a carcinogen. Is it any coincidence certain foods containing BHA have the consistency of rubber? Maybe not—after all, BHA is one of the main ingredients in rubber.
Popular Food With BHT & BHA - Frosted Flakes
Healthy Alternative - One Degree Sprouted Oat Honey O's
Scare factor: According to PreventDisease.com, BHT and BHA are oxidants, which cause reactive compounds that are potentially cancer causing.
3. Sodium Benzoate
At first glance, this toxic ingredient actually sounds like a good thing—it prevents bacterial growth in jams, jellies, pies and sodas. But, it’s really not so great.
When combined with Vitamin C this can produce benzene that has been known to cause Leukemia and other cancers. It’s a small risk this may happen, but why should we put ourselves at risk in the first place?
Popular Food With Sodium Benzoate - Sprite
Sparkling or Soda Water + Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice + Grated Ginger. Consider adding melon, cucumbers, or berries for different flavors!
Or here is a recipe from Jenni Raincloud's blog. I would use coconut sugar if you plan to add the sugar.
Scare factor: According to nutritionist Danielle Felip, in an interview with Huffington Post Canada, Sodium Benzoate deprives our body’s cells of oxygen and can lower our immune system.
4. Food Colourings
Used to make foods fun and alluring (especially to kids), food colorings are used in everything from candy to pet food.
Food colourings are made from the same petroleum that fuels our vehicles use and is turning up in an insane amount of packaged foods including Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Minute Maid Lemonade, Lunchables, Flintstone Vitamins, Cheetos, and even “Light and Fit” Yoplait Yogurt.
Did you know that food products containing artificial dye are required to have a warning label in the U.K.? Yes, I said warning.
Popular Food With Food Colourings - KD
Healthy Alternative - Organic Annie's Homegrown
I am not a huge fan of Annie's however, it is a healthier alternative when you are in a time crunch. When you are in a rush and need something for lunch in a pinch, Annie's does come in handy.
Scare factor: According to MensHealth.com, these chemicals can cause tumors of the thyroid, lymph nodes and kidneys, and chromosomal damage.
5. Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Food manufacturers are always looking to save a buck. That’s why so many foods have these oils—they’re cheap!
Partially hydrogenated oils are everywhere at the grocery store, especially in the bakery aisle (pies, crackers, cakes, cookies) and in fried foods at restaurants.
To avoid trans fat: Look for (and avoid) “Partially Hydrogenated Oil” on the ingredient label!
Popular Food With Partially Hydrogenated Oil - Ritz Crackers (Original)
This image was taken directly from their website.
Healthy Alternative - RW Garcia Sweet Potato Crackers (Non GMO)
These crackers are so yummy with hummus.
Scare factor: These oils contribute to heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes and cellular deterioration.
For information on other toxic ingredients, check out KrisCarr.com, where Kris offers a free Crazy Sexy Guide to Food Labels that you can take with you to the store.
100 Days of Real Food has a great cheat sheet as well.
Detoxify Your Kitchen: Keeping Your Diet Clean
You’ve probably heard it many times over the years: when shopping, choose only foods on the perimeter of the supermarket. I tend to agree. The perimeter is going to have the cleanest foods—the fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and healthy protein options.
Once you start going down the aisles, though, watch out! That’s where you’ll find toxic ingredients.
When you do go down these aisles, make sure to check the ingredients, not just the labels on the front or the nutrition facts.
My number one rule is if I don't know what a word is in the ingredient list, I will not buy it. I know a lot of us out there are focused on how many calories are in a product or how much sugar there is, but don't forget to read the ingredient list. That is probably more important then all that other stuff.
Another simple rule to follow is if you are buying packaged foods, make sure it has 5 whole food ingredients or less. Sometimes we get things with more then five, but don't tell anyone. :-)
Reading the ingredients list is one of the best things we have done in our house to improve our eating habits.
Eating clean isn’t always easy, but you can start by avoiding the above toxic ingredients. Doing so will get you one step closer to your healthy eating goals.
How adept are you at reading food labels? Do you read them regularly? What other ways are there to protect ourselves from toxic ingredients? Let us know. Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.