I have to admit, one of my favorite things about summer is a break from preparing school lunches. Most days now we’re schedule-less and eat frequent snacks instead of sitting down to three meals. It’s actually the way I prefer to eat (a little something every 2 hours or so). But, snacks don’t have to equal junk. When choosing smaller meals, or snacks, we still need to be conscious on what’s going into our bodies.
Here are 5 ingredients to avoid.
Artificial Colors: Red 40, Yellow 5, Red 3, and Blue 1 are probably the most common artificial dyes found in our foods. Just because they’re common, doesn’t mean they’re safe. Artificial colors have links to allergies, hyperactivity, fatigue, headaches, and even tumors. I don’t need scientific studies to tell me (or dispute) that artificial colors can cause aggression & hyperactivity in kids- I watched my son transform before my eyes after his first (and last) Hawaiian Punch 6 years ago. It was also the beginning of our family’s food transformation.
Artificial Flavors: I’m still not certain why manufacturers think a strawberry created in a laboratory tastes anything like a strawberry out of the garden. I do wonder, though, how many chemicals it actually takes to attempt to recreate the flavor. All of these artificial flavors, like fake colors, have health concerns as well: allergic reactions, eczema, hyperactivity, and asthma.
Carrageenan: Although carrageenan is derived from a natural source: red algae or seaweed, it’s not necessarily natural for our bodies. Carrageenan has been used medically for bronchitis & intestinal issues, but chemists found this thickening agent can also be added to foods: ice cream, salad dressing, even toothpaste. Because carrageenan can pull water into the intestines, it can have laxative effects. Finding stomach distress after a particular meal? Check the labels for carrageenan.
Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Don’t confuse a label reading 0 Trans-Fats as truly trans-fat free. Government has deemed it ok to claim “0” if it’s only a fraction. Considering no amount of trans fats has been deemed safe, and less than 2 grams is the recommended daily allowance, those fractions can add up! Trans fats are directly linked to heart disease, so be careful. Even if the box reads 0 Trans fats, check the ingredients for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: This one has been on the battle ground for years. The Corn industry has commercials “proving” it’s safe. The jury is still out. What we do know is that obesity has gone through the roof since its introduction. Is it the chemical make-up? Sucrose (regular table sugar) is a 50/50 split of fructose & glucose. Those molecules are bound to each other so the body has to metabolize them to break them down. High fructose corn syrup, on the other hand, is a 55/42 split (not certain what actually comprises the other 3%) of UN-bound molecules. So, is it the lack of metabolization necessary leading to sky-rocketing obesity? Is it the unknown 3%? Maybe since fructose is sweeter than glucose, high fructose corn syrup makes a product “taste better” and we eat more. Regardless of the reason why it’s linked to obesity, it’s probably a safer choice for your body (and waistline) to just avoid it.
Bottom line, if the ingredient isn’t something you could find in your pantry, it probably shouldn’t be listed on your snack labels either.
Click here for more information on common US ingredients that are actually banned in Europe.
Daily Green Special: Spend $25 and receive a free 1 quart pouch of 479 Organic Aged White Cheddar & Black Truffle popcorn. Just write “safe snacks” in the checkout notes and we’ll add the free popcorn to your order. Offer valid until tomorrow’s post. Happy Wednesday.
Cantaloupe Picture: Peter Rubi