Pretty soon we’ll be ringing in the New Year.
And before the ball drops on New York City’s Time Square, and before we make, and subsequently break, our upcoming resolutions, let’s all make a concerted effort to eat — and therefore be — a bit healthier this year.
With this in mind here are 3 items worth check the label for to avoid getting in your diet.
What’s in a name?
Before mandatory labeling it was understandable if you didn’t know what was in the food you were buying at the supermarket.
Now that companies have to list items on the nutrition label you can know what’s there… if you look, and if you take the time to Google some of the terms found on labels that don’t sound like anything you’d want to eat.
This is good news for people with food allergies (like my daughter, who is allergic to red dye #40 — and possibly other red dyes used in foods), since it gives us the chance to avoid products using this additive.
But truth be told, sometimes it’s hard know what has been added, and why?
You’d be amazed where we’ve found red #40.
Anyway, here are 3 food additives to avoid at all costs…
Is sugar really so bad?
Look, I don’t drink any soda because, frankly, it’s too darned sweet. But if you do, just drink or eat products made with sugar rather than adding chemicals to your diet. After all, sugar may not be great for you, but it tends to come from natural sources (sugarcane and sugar beets).
So what about NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and other artificial sweeteners made with aspartame?
All I can say is that you should avoid foods or drinks “sweetened” with these substances.
Consider this… a study that spanned more than 22 years evaluated the effect between aspartame intake and cancer, and “they found a clear association between aspartame consumption and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and leukemia.”
What’s more, since many diet drinks contain aspartame rather than sugar, supposedly to help you lose weight, it turns out that the opposite is true. Again, “research has repeatedly demonstrated that artificial sweeteners actually make you gain equal or more weight than regular sugar.”
So why is this chemical found in foods and drinks?
2. Food coloring
This item didn’t simply make the list because of my daughter’s allergies.
The good news for us is that her allergy is not life-threatening (i.e. no anaphylactic shock if she consumes red dye). But finding out about her food coloring allergy early on get me online doing research to find out how common these types of allergies are, as well as what the dyes are made from.
Turns out many people have allergies from dyes used in our foods and drinks.
The only reason dyes are an ingredient is to give food coloring (like M&Ms candy coated shell), or to make food more “attractive.”
One time, before I became an avid nutrition label reader out of necessity, I bought Langers fruit punch for my kids. Two days later my daughter broke out in hives, the telltale sign that she ended up with red dye #40 in her system. Turns out the “fruit punch” is mostly dye colored water with very little juice and a whole lot of dye. Now, maybe Langers has changed it’s ways (and then again, maybe not).
This happened sometime last year, but I’m not bringing that product into my house ever again.
Whether or not your children have an obvious food allergy caused by dyes, know that other dye colors have been associated with aggressive behavior and impulse control problems in children (yellow #6 and red #40), among others.
3. Partially hydrogenated oil
What the heck is “partially hydrogenated oil?”
Turns out it’s just another name for trans fats or trans fatty acids.
In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic website trans fats are bad for you because “unlike other fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — both raises your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.”
And according to Dr Jack Hauser, a New Haven, CT cardiologist, a “high triglyceride level combined with a low HDL or high LDL can speed up the process of plaque formation in the arteries.” What’s more, high cholesterol levels pose a significant risk factor for stroke. And since 80% of strokes are preventable, knowing your risk factors and then taking positive steps now is the best way for how to prevent strokes.
So when you get right down to it partially hydrogenated oil is nothing other than trans fat hiding behind a “fancy” name.
And products listing this “ingredient” on the label should be avoided at all costs.
Schedule a medical assessment or annual exam today
Perhaps now is the best time to schedule an appointment with your doctor regarding your heart health.
Make 2014 a happier and healthier year by focusing on wellness, early detection of potential medical problems and prevention. Schedule your annual exam or medical assessment today and check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and any other risk factors for stroke and heart attack.
This is, after all, the best way to prevent a heart attack from happening in the first place.