With so many spooky and sweet treats on shelves this month, it can be tempting to ditch your healthy eating plan and indulge in some Halloween goodies. And while dark chocolate can actually be good for you, many of the other packaged snacks lining the aisles are made with artificial ingredients that may even be harmful. Read on for the top food additives to avoid.
Partially Hydrogenated Oil
While many forms of fat are no longer being villainized as unhealthy, one that is still considered detrimental to health is trans fat—and most of the trans fats in the standard American diet come from partially hydrogenated oil. Because it increases shelf life and maintains flavor, manufacturers add partially hydrogenated oils to everything from margarine to baked goods to salad dressing. And yet, they have been shown to increase bad LDL cholesterol and reduce good HDL cholesterol, which can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease. The key word to look for when scanning ingredients lists is partially; fully hydrogenated oil does not contain any harmful trans fats.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Once the darling of food manufacturing because of its low price compared to sugar, high fructose corn syrup has been found to inhibit leptin, the hormone that tells the brain that you’re full. And while regular sugar is made up mostly of glucose, which can be utilized by every cell in the body, high fructose corn syrup is (unsurprisingly) made of fructose, a type of sugar that must be transformed into glucose by the liver before it can be utilized. If too much HFCS is consumed, the liver can get backed up and begin to store the fructose as fat. Be on the lookout for high fructose corn syrup in sodas, candy, juices and baked goods.
BHA and BHT
These two additives (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene) are typically used together to prevent rancidity in foods like cereal, chewing gum, potato chips and vegetable oil. They are allowed by the FDA, yet the Department of Health and Human Services has labeled them as possible human carcinogens because they have been found to cause cancer in animals. While these effects have not been proven conclusive, avoiding foods that contain BHA and BHT will lead you to fresh, less processed foods, which will always be a healthier choice.
Banned in every industrialized country except for Japan and the United States, potassium bromate is used in breads and crackers to strengthen the dough, help it rise and produce a better crumb. Baking does convert most of it to harmless potassium bromide, but if any of it is not converted it has been shown to cause cancer in animals. And tests conducted in the United Kingdom have detected enough bromate remaining in products after baking to be potentially harmful, so it’s best to avoid crackers and breads made with this additive.
Are there any food additives you’re concerned about? Let us know on Instagram @powerforlifefitness.