Junk food is named as such for a reason. Before you open your next bag of chips, find out how your comfort junk food can be damaging to your health.
We’ve listed down 5 ingredients you should watch out for:
1. Artificial sweeteners
These are the go-to of people who are trying to cut down their sweets or calorie intake. They don’t contain calories but still satiate the craving for something sweet. Though they sound like a good sugar substitute, artificial sweeteners do more harm than good because they leave you craving for more. In addition, they have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, so watch out for these sweeteners.
2. High-fructose corn syrup
This is often found in sweetened drinks and processed foods, such as sodas and fruit juices. Since it is sweeter and cheaper than regular sugar, this ingredient is popular among food manufacturers. It must be avoided, however, because it contains contaminants and chemical toxins that can poison the body.
Commonly known as MSG, monosodium glutamate is given many different names, making it harder to avoid. Manufacturers sometimes list them as caseinate, textured protein, natural flavouring, yeast extract and hydrolyzed pea protein. MSG enhances the flavour of food, giving it a meaty and savoury taste. Though studies have shown that MSG is generally safe for consumption, some people may have a negative reaction to it.
To be on the safe side, watch out if you think you are sensitive to MSG, so you can avoid food that has any of these names in the ingredients list.
4. Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate
These additives are used for preserving the shelf life of processed meats such as lunch meat, hot dogs and bacon. The pink colouration of meat is also caused by these chemicals. Though they fight the harmful bacteria in meat, these are believed to cause metabolic syndrome and colon cancer when mixed with stomach acid, which can then lead to diabetes.
5. Trans Fats
These are a form of unsaturated fats, which may be natural or artificial. Natural trans fats come from the dairy and meat of ruminant animals like goats, sheep and cattle. These fats then occur when the bacteria in their stomachs digest grass and are generally safe for consumption.
Artificial trans fats, on the other hand, pose health hazards. They are also called partially hydrogenated fats and are used to prolong the shelf life of processed foods by chemically altering vegetable oils so they remain solid at room temperature.
Aside from boosting bad cholesterol, these trans fats are difficult for the body to process and have been linked to nutritional deficiencies, cellular deterioration, diabetes and heart disease.
Now that you know a little more in this area, it wouldn’t hurt to pause for a moment and check the ingredients list the next time you visit the grocery.