Ingredients to Avoid for Healthy Living

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Guest article by Sam Hadadi,

Why Some Ingredients are Bad for Health

While we’re all for living a natural, healthy lifestyle, most of the Lucy Bee team are full-blown chocoholics. We’re all partial to a sweet treat every now and then and chocolate is often at the top of the menu.

Yet, while we know that some of the shop-bought, processed chocolates lining the supermarket shelves aren’t always the best for our waistlines, what would you say if we told you some could contain cancer-causing chemicals, too? Especially when these same chemicals have been found in chocolate you could be handing out to your kids?

Shockingly, earlier this month, a well known chocolate company were forced to defend their products after it was found that there were “likely carcinogens” hiding among the ingredients.

A German watchdog, called Foodwatch, issued warnings after they discovered “dangerous” levels of the mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAHs), a by-product of refining oil. These same oils have been labelled as “likely carcinogenic and mutagenic” by the European Food Safety Authority.

As a result, the company has been asked to remove some of their chocolates and bars (they allegedly refused). However, the company has defended itself, arguing that these same substances exist “elsewhere in the environment”.

They added: “Traces of mineral oil exist nearly everywhere in the environment and they can be transferred to food in many different ways.”

It’s thought that the dangerous oils could be transferred to the chocolates via the inks found on the wrappers.

Yet, whatever the case, and whatever the story, it’s likely to have rocked parents somewhat. How do you know exactly what you’re feeding your children and can it ever truly be trusted?

Ingredients to Look Out For

As parents, all you ever really want to do is get your kid off to the best possible start. From picking the perfect pre-school, to lying in a cramped single bed all night long when they’re poorly, there’s nothing you won’t do to help your little one thrive.

Artificial food dyes
Artificial food dyes

And as huge health lovers, we’re all about teaching our kids to eat well, too. Right from the early years, we’re passionate about getting them involved in the kitchen, teaching them about nutrition and feeding them good, honest, home-cooked food.

Of course, everything is about balance and it’s fine to have a handful of treats in moderation, too. Who can really stop a kid from going wild at a birthday party full of jelly and ice cream?

Yet, if this story has concerned you, then there are a few things you can keep your eyes peeled for when buying supermarket foods. Want to avoid those nasty, toxic chemicals? Then here are some ingredients commonly found in foods that you should be avoiding at all costs:

Artificial Sweeteners

More and more, experts are warning us that artificial sweeteners could wreak havoc on our health and our body. There’s growing evidence1 to suggest that sweeteners used by food companies could have caused a surge in Diabetes, as well as weight gain. Aspartame and saccharin2 are two of the most villainous of these food baddies, especially when it comes to obesity but you should also keep your eye out for sucralose, Neotame and Acesulfame Potassium (which has been linked to cancer3).

We have an article dedicated to a study which looked at the effect of Artificial Sweeteners and our Appetite.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

All too often, food companies lead us into believing that this harmful substance is “all-natural” and far healthier for us than outright sugar. Of course, as with many marketing claims, it can all be taken with a pinch of salt – and, actually, you might want to bin anything you have with fructose in it.

Although fructose (a humble enough sounding carb which comes from fruit and veg) may seem harmless enough, high-fructose corn syrup is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient. Worryingly, food companies are being allowed to market products4 with fructose in the ingredients as being “healthy”, in spite of endless studies warning that it can lead to “significant” weight gain, physical inactivity and body fat5.

Concerned? To spot fructose on a food label, look for the words “corn sweetener,” “corn syrup,” or “corn syrup solids” as well as “high-fructose corn syrup” and step away from the packet…

Trans Fats and Vegetable Oils

As we know, fats (unfairly) became the super villain of the food world for decades. However, from creamy avocados to our delicious coconut oil, now we know that it’s all about choosing the right kind of fats.

Vegetable oil
Vegetable oil

Trans fats are now widely-seen as harmful, with research suggesting that they’re twice as dangerous for your heart as saturated fat6. If you want to know what you’re eating, then scan that ingredients list for these words: “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated”. And beware – the higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on the list, the more trans fats there are in the product.

As if that weren’t enough to scare you, even the healthier-sounding vegetable oils (it’s from a vegetable, it has to be healthy, right?) are of huge concern. Yet, in spite of this, they’re becoming more popular, with Americans eating more than 100,000 times more vegetable oils7 than they were 100 years ago.

However, these same vegetable oils can morph into toxic byproducts when heated, including cyclic aldehydes, which are inflammatory and could trigger heart disease and Alzheimer’s8. If you’re feeling unsure, then it’s best to avoid them altogether…

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), AKA glutamic acid, hydrolyzed protein, yeast extract

Most often found in those greasy Chinese takeaways, MSG can also work its way into frozen meals, meats and even salad dressings. However, free glutamic acid (MSG is nearly 80 percent glutamic acid) is the same neurotransmitter that many of our essential organs use in the body, and MSG has also been linked to obesity, fatigue, depression, heart problems and body numbness9. Scary stuff, right?

Artificial Food Dyes

Long associated with hyperactive children, there are many other concerns about artificial food dyes. Some have been linked to cancer and allergies10, while others can trigger behavioural issues in children. Far from ideal when parenthood is already enough of a minefield!

You might also want to pass on preservatives including: butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozytoluene11 (which have been linked to brain and behavioural problems), tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (which is associated with increasing our risk of tumours12), sodium benzoate (which can cause hyperactivity), sodium nitrate (which has been linked to colorectal and stomach cancers13) and azodicarbonamide, which can lead to allergies14.

What Can I Do?

One of the easiest ways to avoid any added nasties and toxic ingredients is to simply pile those plates high with an abundance of fresh, organic, natural foods. Instead of buying packaged and processed produce, stick to buying traditional foods such as lean meat (bought from the butcher if possible, so you know exactly how it’s been reared), rainbows of fruit and veg, grass-fed butter and coconut oil, olive oil and delicious, unrefined carbs – brown rice, wholegrains, quinoa and pulses.

However, there are a few other ways you can avoid any unwanted surprises. We’d always recommend that you:

Ditch Plastics

Whether you’re grabbing a bottle of water on the go or are throwing veggies packaged up in neat, plastic tubs, try to give it a miss. You see, plastics aren’t just bad for the environment and our beloved animals but they’re also becoming a huge concern15 for our health and our children’s, too!

Opt for glass packaging over plastic
Opt for glass packaging over plastic

If you really do need to buy ready-food, then be sure to avoid using plastic containers labeled on the bottom with the numbers 3, 6 or 7 (inside the recycle symbol), as these contain nasty chemicals such as phthalates. You can also aim to buy food packaged in glass jars (this is why we love our own Lucy Bee packaging!), use cleaning products that come in boxes and drink (filtered) tap water. Read more on our tips to ditch the plastic.

Buy Organic

Organic carrots
Organic carrots

Wherever you can, try to load up your trolley with organic produce, which are free from any hidden nasties and added chemicals such as pesticides. Organic foods can also boost our vitamin and mineral intake16 by up to 30% and are far better for the kids as they’re free from artificial flavourings. So, what are you waiting for? Eat up!

We hope this has given you some food for thought. If you have any tips of your own, then please get in touch with us on social media to have your say!

Sam Hadadi Signature

  1. Artificial sweeteners in rise of diabetes
  2. Aspartame, saccharin and obesity
  3. Is acesulfame potassium bad for me?
  4. Fructose:the dangers of the EU ruling
  5. Researchers find fructose contributes to weight gain
  6. The killer fat
  7. Vegetable oils: beware common fats more dangerous than trans fat
  8. How trans fats affect your memory
  9. Is MSG bad for me?
  10. Damaging ingredients to watch on food labels
  11. The effect of butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozytoluene on mice
  12. The potential TBHQ dangers
  13. Link between sodium nitrites and cancer
  14. What is azodicarbonamide?
  15. Plastics: New health risk studies in children
  16. 10 reasons to go organic

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.