Eating healthy in America today can be a tricky, downright difficult act requiring a great deal of label reading and study of the food industry.
Companies are quick to label something “natural,” “green” or “healthy,” in order take advantage of the current grocery trends and lure consumers into buying a product that may not be as beneficial as described.
As you try to navigate the overwhelming options in the aisles, here are three of the worst food ingredients to avoid at all costs.
1) High fructose corn syrup, also known as HFCS
This one should go without saying — many products such as soda, sweetened drinks, sports drinks, processed foods, high sugar cereals, breakfast bars, sauces and salad dressing often contain this sugary additive for improved taste — and all such products should be avoided.
Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration states that when broken down it is “essentially 100% glucose” and contains either “42 percent fructose or 55 percent fructose.” No warning is coming from the FDA about HFCS.
Yet research states that regular and excessive HFCS can increase the risk of arthritis, obesity, fatty liver, high insulin, diabetes, ATP depletion (resulting in lower energy states) and more. Eating foods containing HFCS is not healthy in any form.
This artificial sweetener, often known by brand names of Equal or NutraSweet, has created a great deal of controversy.
Aspartame is made up of two amino acids, L-phenylalanine and L-aspartic acid held together by a methyl ester bond. When ingested, the digestive enzyme in the small intestines, chymotrypsin, breaks it all apart and methanol is released.
While the FDA and other large organizations state that aspartame is very safe to the general public, general consumer opinion is that aspartame should be avoided. This mindset has led companies such as PepsiCo to remove aspartame from their diet drinks and replace it with a different artificial sweetener known as sucralose.
1) DeChristopher LR, Uribarri J, Tucker KL. (2016). Intake of high-fructose corn syrup sweetened soft drinks, fruit drinks and apple juice is associated with prevalent arthritis in US adults, aged 20-30 years.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/269504802) Esterl M and Tripp M. (2015). PepsiCo to Drop Aspartame from Diet Pepsi.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/pepsico-to-replace-aspartame-with-sucralose-in-diet-pepsi-in-u-s-14298859413) Food and Drug Administration. (2015). FDA Cuts Trans Fat in Processed Foods.
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm4) Food and Drug Administration. (2014). High Fructose Corn Syrup: Questions and Answers.
http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm324856.htm5) Lin WT, Chan TF, Huang HL, Lee CY, Tsai S, Wu PW, Yang YC, Wang TN, and Lee CH. (2016). Frutose-Rich Beverage Intake and Central Adiposity, Uric Acid, and Pediatric Insulin Resistance. (2016).
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/268175916) Monte W. Aspartame: Methanol and the Public Health. (1984).
http://www.mpwhi.com/aspartame_methanol_and_public_health.pdf7) Softic S, Cohen DE, Kahn CR. Role of Dietary Fructose and Hepatic De Novo Lipogenesis in Fatty Liver Disease. (2016).