Tag Archives: healthy eating

Olympic juice

FoodFacts.com has heard an awful lot about athletes gorging on unhealthy fast foods after their meets end throughout the 30th Olympiad. Hey, we all need a “treat” after the hard work is done. And when an athlete needs 7,000 calories a day, or thereabouts, to maintain their body weight … that treat might be different than it would be for the rest of us! But we were really enthused and curious about some other information we found about our athletes’ diets.

It turns out that many of our athletes are finding energy benefits from beetroot juice … and it’s really not just a fad (although the benefits need to be explored quite a bit more). And it raises questions for the rest of us non-olympic (and maybe non-athletic) folks.

Studies conducted in the last two years have shown that, in fact, beetroot juice can increase athletic performance in certain sport situations. The knotty part of the beet is where the juice can be extracted. Studies are suggesting that there can be up to a 3 percent improvement in performance … well, at least in the world of elite sports. Probably doesn’t apply to most of us, but for them that is absolutely huge. So maybe the rest of us could benefit as well.

While no one can actually put their finger on it right now, beetroot juice seems to increase bloods and oxygen flow to muscles. In addition, it also somehow allows muscles to use the increase in oxygen more efficiently. It appears that when someone drinks beetroot juice regularly they expend less oxygen during exercise. This was evident in the study when participants who drank the juice for a week before hand were able to run significantly longer on a treadmill than those that drank a placebo juice.

It’s important to note that the juice seems to have an effect on short term exercise or athletic activity. In the studies undertaken, it appears that longer term activity is not affected in the same manner as short-term activity (i.e. marathon vs. sprint). Strenuous and short athletic activity is where beetroot juice appears to exercise its benefits. In addition, don’t expect to drink a glass of beetroot juice and experience increased energy. It needs to be consumed regularly to make any kind of a difference. So if you want to give this a try, you’ll need to drink the juice on a regular basis to see if it makes any kind of impact in your activity. It also may not be palatable initially and you may need to get used to the taste. It has been noted, however, that tart cherry juice may have a similar (if not exact) affect. And it probably tastes better.

FoodFacts.com is enthused by the idea that juicing might actually provide our athletes with the energy they need to excel, and by this discovery, might provide the rest of us a healthy way to boost our own energy levels and help all of us get moving more and more often! Read more here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/looking-for-fitness-in-a-glass-of-juice/?src=me&ref=health

Foods you need to pay attention to

FoodFacts.com spends a lot of time educating our community on the foods we shouldn’t be eating, or at least that we should be trying to avoid. So we thought we’d explore some of the foods we might not realize are actually good for our health. There are some surprises out there … and if the following foods aren’t surprising to you, share them with friends and family, who may not understand their benefits.

Iceberg Lettuce
Generally this is the lettuce that isn’t flying off the produce shelves these days. It’s somewhat “out of fashion” in terms of salad preparation. But we really need to start a new trend. Half a head of iceberg lettuce contains more alpha-carotene than romaine lettuce or spinach. And it’s actually pretty tasty when used in a great salad recipe. Try it with a few different vegetables julienned with the lettuce and a tangy homemade dressing. And if you still like the texture of the leafier green lettuces, you can add iceberg into your regular salad preparation. Mix it up with romaine or green leaf lettuce to add an interesting crunch to your regular salad recipes. It also adds some iron, vitamin C and vitamin A to your already nutritious salad ideas.

Sardines
Yes, we’re talking about those tiny fish that can come in a can. There are so many things you can do with sardines and so many things they can do for you! Fatty fish, like sardines, are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They help you build your HDL cholesterol (that’s the good kind), and they’re good for you brain. Not to mention that if you or someone you love has had a heart attack, they can actually reduce the risk of a reoccurrence that could lead to sudden death. That’s a pretty powerful little fish. They’re great with pasta or salads. You can pretty much rest assured that any food you might add chopped bacon to would be equally tasty with sardines. If you don’t have access to fresh sardines, canned will work just fine. But they do contain sodium, so make sure you adjust your recipes accordingly.

Vinegar
Turns out that in this case the old wives tales about vinegar just might hold water. Vinegar has been shown to help with cholesterol issues, fight allergies and increase stamina. But, most importantly, a study has pointed out that when people consumed two tablespoons of vinegar with a high-carb meal, their blood sugar was actually lower by 23% than when eating the meal without it. That’s a pretty good reason to make your own salad dressing with those two tablespoons and eat that with your higher carbohydrate meal.

Blueberries
FoodFacts.com loves blueberries. They’re great for breakfast. Work well as a snack and make a pretty terrific dessert! The compound anthocyanin is a flavanoid (a type of antioxidant) that blueberries contain great amounts of. Flavanoids can protect against free radicals that cause cell damage and they are great for protecting your heart. Blueberries also seem to have a positive effect on blood pressure. So, especially during these summer months when blueberries are plentiful at the farmer’s market, go ahead and enjoy them, knowing that while you’re loving the taste they bring to your dishes, they’re loving your heart health in return!

Mushrooms
If you’ve ever been in a cooking class or gone to culinary school, you’ve learned that mushrooms are a “flavor enhancer”, as in, they really don’t have flavor themselves, but tend to brighten or pick up the flavor of other foods. That sort of leads folks to believe that they are kind of useless on their own. But they really aren’t. Mushrooms are actually are source of lean protein, without the cholesterol or fat. They are also low in carbs and contain fiber. They help burn cholesterol. They’ve been shown to be effective in preventing breast and prostate cancer and they’re great for a diabetic diet.

So that’s the FoodFacts.com list of five foods that you might want to pay more attention to in your diet. While a few of them might take some cooking creativity, we think all five are definitely worth their health benefits!

Are calories the only thing we should be worrying about?

Today, Food Facts heard about the roll-out of McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 calories promotion. As of today, you’ll be able to walk into your local McDonald’s and view signage listing the products on the McDonald’s menu that are under 400 calories each. The promotion has been timed around the Summer Olympics in London that begin with opening ceremonies this coming Friday, July 27th, 2012.

It’s no secret that McDonald’s came under fire for sponsoring the games. With obesity rates on the rise worldwide, folks in the medical profession as well as health advocates everywhere were questioning whether or not this particular company should be one of the “faces” of this ancient event that promotes athleticism and sportsmanship. So … it appears as though this was McDonald’s answer to its naysayers.

In the first place, it’s important to note that there aren’t really that many menu items on the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” list. And the products featured are single items – not meals. You won’t find a burger with fries and a coke on it. Instead, you’ll find a burger – a regular, small burger. We all know that’s not the burger most folks are ordering from their menu and that it’s fairly rare that anyone is going to order any burger without some sort of meal accompaniment.

But more importantly, Food Facts feels compelled to ask – just how are we defining healthy these days??? If an item is under 400 calories, does that actually make it desirable to eat? We don’t think so. And we wanted to take the time to point out some of the less-than-desirable ingredients you’ll find in a few of the products on the new McDonald’s list.

Filet O Fish sandwich: A few of the controversial ingredients you’ll find in this item are: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Azodicarbonamide and Polydorbate 80. But it does come in at 380 calories.

 

Sausage McMuffin: The controversial ingredients for this product include: Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, BHA, BHT, Caramel Color, Propyl Gallate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Sodium Benzoate. But it’s on the list at 370 calories.

 

Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap: A few of the ingredients you may not want to consume include: Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Hyrolyzed Protein, Polysorbate 80, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil and Sodium Benzoate. This weighs in at 270 calories.

There are more products to examine and we’d like to encourage our blog followers to go into our database and search them out. You can find an image of the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” signage here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/mcdonalds-favorites-under-400-calories_n_1695885.html   Take a look inside these products that are being heralded as “better to eat” than the Big Mac and make some educated choices. And, more importantly, educate others about your own educated choices.

For some people, calories are a big concern. But Food Facts likes to think that if people understood the ingredient list, calories wouldn’t be the ONLY concern.

Read more about the McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 Calories” promotion: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/07/23/low-cal-menu-mcdonalds-new-ploy-woo-its-critics
http://jezebel.com/5928496/mcdonalds-swears-its-a-perfectly-healthy-olympic-sponsor

Nutrition software, coming to a school near you (well eventually, anyway)

In case anyone in the Food Facts community hasn’t noticed, schools all over the country have been issuing electronic payment cards for student school lunches. Parents transfer money onto the card and then students use the card similarly to an ATM, with the cost being debited from the money in the account. Frankly, it took my own family a while to get used to … the card ended up in pockets that got washed and became unusable and the school was enormously patient with us as we (read my children) became used to the idea that those cards were important and needed to be treated that way. It all worked out in the end. But we were a bit mystified as to why we couldn’t just give the kids a five dollar bill every day to pay for their lunch (no potential card washing involved).

On Wednesday, a really fascinating article was published on Indystar.com (the Gannett owned Indiana newspaper). It gave us an insight as to why the electronic lunch payment cards have been issued and we thought our community might like to have a better understanding. So we’ll sum it up for you here.

This fall, the Waukee school district in Indianapolis will be implementing new nutrition software. With this implementation, parents will now have online access to monitor their kid’s food purchases in school. The software, called PrimeroEdge is manufactured by Cybersoft.

Parents will have online access to nutrition information for all meals available in their children’s school. That will include calories, carbs, sodium and fat. They’ll also be able to access ingredient lists. And, of course, they’ll be able to view the food purchases their kids are making on their school lunch card accounts. To be honest, I’m kind of embarrassed that I couldn’t figure out why we were getting those cards in the first place – even if we don’t live in Indianapolis.

When this comes to where my family lives, I’ll be able to go online and see the food choices my kids are making during the day. It might open valuable conversations between us … things like “wasn’t there anything better on the menu today?” or “wow, you went through that money pretty quick, what exactly were you snacking on?” or “gee, maybe you want to eat some fruit instead of those cookies at least a few days a week.”

But for me, personally, it will be a better window into the nutritional value of the food being served. It’s no secret that we’ve had some pretty odd occurrences regarding the nutritional value of school lunches in our country (ketchup as a vegetable, anyone?). And to be honest, some of the preparation choices in some areas as early as six years ago were kind of questionable for very young children. Kids can be picky eaters and tend to appreciate more honest food they recognize that feature fresh ingredients. Ask your children what salads look like in their schools (my own have told me that the lettuce is wilted, the tomatoes have no taste and the dressing comes in a packet).

If this software improves the communication between parents, children and schools regarding nutritional value and eating habits, we’re certainly all for it.

We’d love to hear opinions from our Food Facts community. Take a look at this link and tell us what you think.

http://www.indystar.com/article/D2/20120628/COMM/306280026/New-software-will-let-parents-monitor-kids-eating-habits?odyssey=nav|head

It would appear it’s coming soon, to a school near you!

India sues Monsanto for “Biopiracy”

gmo
Foodfacts.com brings to you the latest in genetic engineering. Just recently, India has decided to fight against major agribusiness, Monsanto, after the company allegedly genetically modified an eggplant crop without consent. India is considering this as “biopiracy”, and not backing down from this fight. Check it out below!

Brought to you by Huffington Post:

Add a new word to your lexicon: Biopiracy.

That’s what U.S.-based agribusiness giant Monsanto has been accused of in India, where the government is planning to charge the company with violating the country’s biodiversity laws over a genetically modified version of eggplant.eggplant

In doing so, India has placed itself at the focal point of the movement to challenge genetically modified crops, which opponents say are destroying traditional crops and threatening farmers’ livelihoods.

“This can send a … message to the big companies [that] they are violating the laws of the nation,” K.S. Sugara of the Karnataka Biodiversity Board told France 24 (see video below). “It is not acceptable … that the farmers in our communities are robbed of the advantage they should get from the indigenous varieties.”

India announced last month it is pursuing charges against Monsanto for “stealing” an indigenous crop — eggplant — and using it to create a modified version without permission, a violation of India’s decade-old Biological Diversity Act. It’s the first prosecution of a company for the act of “biopiracy” in the country, and possibly the world.

At the heart of the issue is the phenomenon of the commercialization of indigenous knowledge. Indian farmers argue that they developed the strains of eggplant grown in India over generations, and Monsanto has no right to come in and build a product out of their own indigenous species.

Monsanto took locally-grown eggplant “without any conformance with the biological diversity act, and therefore it is biopiracy,” said Leo Saldanha, director of the Environmental Support Group, an Indian NGO. Saldanha filed the initial complaint that prompted India to pursue charges.

It is not actually illegal to develop GM foods from indigenous crops in India, but the the government placed a moratorium on eggplant development last year after an outcry from farmers. It’s this moratorium that Monsanto is accused of breaking.

However, in the month since the government announced it intends to file charges, no actual charges have been laid. France24 correspondent Vikram Singh said India may be coming under pressure from Monsanto and other multinationals not to pursue the case.

But Singh said government officials insist they are simply taking their time to build a water-tight case.

Farmers’ opposition to Monsanto and genetically modified crops in India goes back to before the eggplant controversy, and traces its roots at least partly to an earlier controversy about genetically modified cotton.

After successfully introducing GM cotton to India, Monsanto was besieged by bad publicity when a failed crop allegedly caused farmers to commit suicide. Crop failures are common in India, but when the GM cotton crop failed, the farmers growing it were saddled with enormous debt.

By some counts, the suicide toll related to GM crop failure is in the hundreds of thousands, though some observers have challenged that notion.

The company has also been accused of using child labor in its cotton seed production operations.

Monsanto has largely refused to comment to the media about the eggplant controversy, but France24 reported that the company is blaming its Indian sub-contractor for the unauthorized use of eggplant species.

France 24’s Singh said the case “will have ramifications beyond this incident. … It’s hugely important because how they handle this will set precedent for cases in the future.”

The stakes for Monsanto are huge. Besides cotton and eggplant, the company sees an enormous potential market for genetically modified corn in India. The St. Louis-based firm’s sales in India have been growing rapidly in recent years and now stand at around $7 billion per year.

4 Foods You Should Try!

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

There have been a variety of studies that suggest different foods promote beneficial health effects. We know walnuts help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; yogurts help promote proper digestion; carrots play a role in eye health; and so on. Well, there are a few other foods that can be both delicious and valuable to your health.
Purple Potato blog.foodfacts.com
Purple Potatoes:
A new study done by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania suggests that purple potatoes, which contain polyphenols found in most purple fruits and veggies, can help to reduce blood pressure by approximately 5% a month. These potatoes are a little more difficult to find, but are commonly found in natural food stores and farmers markets. Also, we would like to note that a similar study done at Harvard also mentioned slight weight gain with frequent consumption of purple potatoes, which isn’t too surprising.
kohlrabi
Kohlrabi:
This German turnip is packed with nutrients, potassium, and free-radical fighting antioxidants. It has a similar flavor to a radish or apple, and is commonly consumed in Kashmir where it is referred to as monj. This root vegetable would be a great addition to seasonal salads or used in combination with other veggies in a stir-fry.
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Amaranth:
A popular grain originating during an era of pre-Columbian Aztecs, Amaranth is a bit more advanced than grain we’re used to these days. This grain has a great amount of protein in its seeds, 5 times more fiber than wheat, and contains phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A & C. It is commonly used in diets for those recovering from illnesses because it is very digestable; and contains linoleic acid as a form of unsaturated fat.
yerba mate tea
Yerba Mate:

This tea has been found to promote cell revival faster and more effective than that of red wine and green tea. It contains natural forms of caffeine and alkaloids which help to promote muscle relaxation, and mood-enhancing properties.
Check out your local grocery stores and farmers markets to try new healthy foods!

What Fish Oil Does for Your Health

salmon

Foodfacts.com looks into the benefits of having Fish Oil in your diet. Found in fatty fish or supplements, fish oil can work wonders, from preventing inflammatory diseases to reducing the stroke risk in people with heart disease. There’s a good reason why the American Heart Association recommends that most people eat fish — particularly fatty fish — at least twice a week for heart health. Fatty fish has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients that the body can’t make on its own.

Research has shown that fish oil offers many health benefits, but the strongest evidence points to fish oil benefits for heart health. Fish oil has been shown to:

Lower triglycerides — fats which are unhealthy in high levels (its role in high cholesterol, however, is unclear)
Cut the number of strokes in people with heart disease
Prevent heart disease
Slow the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques, also called hardening of the arteries
Slightly reduce blood pressure

More Fish Oil Benefits: Reducing Inflammation

Because most of the benefits of fish oil come from omega-3’s anti-inflammatory properties, says clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas, BS, CN, of Laguna Beach, Ca., fish oil may play a role in treating and preventing inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and osteoporosis.

“Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis are especially fascinating to me because current [treatment] methods [for example, calcium supplementation] are not as promising as once expected,” Metsovas says.


More Fish Oil Benefits: What Else It May Do

While fish has long had a reputation as a brain food, recent studies have shown that fish oil may specifically help with:

Depression
Attention deficit disorder
Infant eye-brain development
Alzheimer’s disease
Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder
Other brain disorders
Some studies are investigating the role that fish oil may play in preventing weight loss caused by cancer drugs, reducing the growth of colon cancer cells, and lowering rejection rates for heart and kidney transplant patients. Still others are looking at fish oil to help with dry eyes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.

Fish Oil: Fish or Supplement?

Your body doesn’t make omega-3s. To get the amount you need, you have to eat foods that have omega-3s or take supplements. Besides fatty fish, omega-3s are found in some nut oils (English walnuts) and vegetable oils, such as canola, flaxseed and linseed, olive, and soybean. Fish oil has two essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while vegetable and nut sources contain the fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Some studies suggest that the benefits of EPA and DHA are greater than those of ALA.

“Although I might get some flak from vegetarians and vegans, the best sources of omega-3s are animal-based,” Metsovas says. Food sources include omega-3 enriched egg yolks, fatty fish, krill oil, and grass-fed beef. She recommends 1 gram of fatty acids per day. A 3.5-ounce serving of fish has about that amount.

Like most nutritionists, Metsovas recommends eating fish rather than taking supplements. When that’s not possible, she says, look for high-quality fish oils that offer concentrated sources of omega-3s per capsule.

Check with your doctor before taking higher doses of fish oil — more than 3 grams a day. People on anti-clotting drugs should take extra care, as fish oil can cause excessive bleeding.

Fish Oil: Watch for the Mercury

A problem with eating fish is that it can contain high levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The solution may be to choose fish by its size.

Smaller fish, such as sardines, tend to accumulate fewer toxins because they are lower on the food chain. Avoid larger fish such as shark or swordfish because the bigger the fish, the more mercury it can have.

Also, shellfish, salmon, or catfish may be lower in mercury. If you’re thinking of eating fish from local lakes, rivers, or streams, first check if any advisories about mercury levels or contaminants have been issued.

You also need to be careful about false claims, Metsovas says, regarding the actual purity and freshness of fish oil supplements. Recent studies suggest that many fish oils are prone to oxidation within a few days of processing. She says you should purchase high-quality fish oil that has added antioxidants, such as vitamin E, or a mixture of different forms of vitamin E, called mixed tocopherols, to make the oil less prone to breaking down and becoming rancid. Metsovas also says there is no standard definition of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. Many companies will assign grades to their product to generate higher retail pricing.

Studies show fish oil has many good benefits, including promoting heart health and preventing inflammatory diseases. So eat fish often, and when you can’t, take fish oil supplements.

Woman Faces Jailtime for Creating Organic Garden

water-the-grass

At Foodfacts.com we like to share the latest news on everything food related. In recent years there has been a tremendous movement in promoting organic foods due to the fear of pesticides and other chemicals leaking into much of the available produce. Many people have taken their health into their own hands by starting their own organic gardens. Check out the story below describing one woman’s battle in creating her own organic garden.

A Michigan woman is being charged with a misdemeanor offense and is facing up to 93 days in jail. Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden—in her own yard. Her front yard, that is.

Like many consumers today, Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Mich., appreciates the taste and healthfulness of organic vegetables, but isn’t much of a fan of how much going organic costs at the store. So, like many health-minded consumers, she planted a vegetable garden on her property.
peach1
But Bass chose to take the unusual step of installing neatly arranged raised beds of vegetables in her front, rather than back, yard. Bass explained her unorthodox garden location (and showed off how neat and organized it is, for those curious) to a local TV station:
“We thought it’d be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help,” she said.

Front yard or back, it’s her property, and she’s allowed to do with it what she pleases, right? Wrong, say the local authorities, citing local codes that require front yards to have only “suitable” live plant material. City planners say that vegetables, for some reason, don’t qualify for the standard, even though they are certainly alive, and certainly are planted. To some, this sort of code enforcement makes the restrictions against drying clothes on a clothesline seem reasonable.
blueberries2
Bass was given a warning, then a ticket, and now she has been charged with a misdemeanor for violating the City of Oak Park’s planning code. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 26, and Bass is facing up to 93 days in jail.

For growing vegetables.

On her own property.

Bass isn’t giving in, however, and it looks like she has plenty of support on her side. A thread at Reddit with information on rallies and petitions to stop the prosecution has already generated 299 comments (and counting).

Bass does have a backyard, but she has no plans to uproot and replant her garden back there any time soon:
“They say, ‘Why should you grow things in the front?’ Well, why shouldn’t I? They’re fine. They’re pretty. They’re well maintained,” said Bass.

(Time Magazine)

What is Polysorbate 80?

chemical flasks with reagents

Here at Foodfacts.com, we like to keep viewers aware of possible health implications from a variety of products and ingredients. Today we feature Polysorbate 80.creamsicle

Polysorbate 80, also known as polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate, is a common food additive used as an emulsifier in a wide variety of products, mostly different ice creams. What it does is help make frozen treats smoother and more resistant to melting. Why do we classify this ingredient as controversial? Many studies have been done showing possible links to infertility, bladder cancer, negative interactions with Crohn’s disease, and in some cases anaphylactic shock. turkey-hill

Most humans in US and Canada consume approximately 0.1g of polysorbate 80 in their foods each day. In addition to foods, polysorbate 80 is now also an additive in H1N1 flu shots, and other vaccinations. With the increasing incidence of influenza in recent years, polysorbate 80 consumption is expected to rise even more.

Although polysorbate 80 is currently deemed safe for consumption, it’s wise for consumers to make their own judgments over these different types of additives. Check back to Foodfacts.com to see what other products contain this ingredient!

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

Here at foodfacts.com, we like to keep our readers informed of all current and up-to-date information regarding health and food. Here is a recent news article discussing the 10 scariest food additives in some of the most popular food products most can find in their pantry.

There was a time when “fruit flavored” and “cheese flavored” meant “made with real fruit” and “made with real cheese.” Today? It’s artificial everything. Most of the food at your local supermarket is no more authentic than Snooki’s tan. Our fruit comes packaged in Loops, our cheese delivered via Whiz. Sure, it’s edible, but there’s no way your great grandparents would recognize this junk as food.

The problem with additives runs deep. The FDA currently maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which features more than 3,000 items and counting. Thankfully, most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects. Why they’re legal is a mystery to us. Some of them might be backed by powerful lobby groups, while others probably survive simply because some guy at the FDA has too much paperwork on his desk and hasn’t made time to adequately review the data.

Below are 10 of the most dubious ingredients hiding in your food, compliments of Eat This, Not That! 2011. Even if you’re not convinced of their danger, you have to admit this: The more filler ingredients you cut from your diet, the more space you have for wholesome, nutritious foods.

Scary Ingredient #1: Olestrapringles
A fat substitute synthesized by Procter & Gamble. Because human digestive enzymes can’t break down the big molecules, Olestra contributes 0 calories to your diet.

Why it’s scary: In the late ’90s, Frito-Lay released Olestra-enhanced WOW chips and Procter & Gamble introduced Fat Free Pringles. Both products were required to carry warning labels to notify customers about the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years, some 15,000 people had dialed in to a hotline set up specifically to handle adverse-reaction complaints. Apparently the complaints didn’t move the FDA, because in 2003, the administration revoked the warning-label mandate. If you want to take your chances with diarrhea, go ahead, but first consider this: Olestra also appears to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some crucial nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. To counteract the effect, processers add some nutrients back, but it’s unlikely that all the blocked nutrients are adequetly replaced.

Furthermore, just last week I tweeted that an animal study at Purdue University found that fake fats like Olestra may cause more weight gain than real fat.

Where you’ll find it: Lay’s Light chips, Pringles Light chips

Scary Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring
An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.stove-top

Why it’s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it’s relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as “known to cause cancer” earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you’d be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you’ll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix

Scary Ingredient #3: Saccharin
An artificial sweetener discovered by accident in the 1870s.sweet-n-low

Why it’s scary: Studies have linked saccharin to bladder tumors in rats, and in 1977, the FDA required warning labels on all saccharin-containing foods. In 2000, the agency changed its stance and allowed saccharin to be sold without warning labels. But that doesn’t make it entirely safe. A 2008 Purdue study found that replacing sugar with saccharin in rats’ diets made them gain more weight, proving once again that you should be aware of these faux fat foes.

Where you’ll find it: Sweet ‘N Low, TaB cola

Scary Ingredient #4: Potassium Bromate
A compound that conditions flour and helps bread puff up during baking.

Why it’s scary: Potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and it’s banned from food use in many countries. In California, products containing potassium bromate are required to carry a cancer warning. Fortunately, negative publicity has made the additive relatively rare, but until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout.

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.
.orbit

Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

Where you’ll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum

Scary Ingredient #6: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.sandwich

Why it’s scary: Partially hydrogenated fats are the principle sources of trans fat in the American diet, and a Harvard study estimated that trans fat causes 70,000 heart attacks every year. The good news: Partially hydrogenated oils are beginning to slowly retreat from our food. Progressive jurisdictions like New York City are starting to restrict the allowable amounts in restaurants, and many chains are switching to healthier frying oil. Still, the battle isn’t over. At Long John Silver’s, for example, there are still 17 menu items with more than 2 grams of the stuff. According to the American Heart Association, that’s about the maximum you should consume in a single day.

Where you’ll find it: McDonald’s McChicken, Long John Silver’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

Scary Ingredient #7: Sulfites
Preservatives that maintain the color of food, and by releasing sulfur dioxide, prevent bacterial growth. fig-enwton

Why it’s scary: Humans have used sulfites to keep food fresh for thousands of years, but some people—especially asthma sufferers—experience breathing difficulties when exposed. In the 1980s, unregulated use resulted in at least a dozen deaths, prompting the FDA to slap warning labels on wine bottles and develop new guidelines for proper use. Now restaurants can no longer soak fresh ingredients in sulfites. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been no known deaths since the new legislation took hold. The bottom line: If you’re among the majority of people not sensitive to sulfites, consumption won’t hurt you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for a test.

Where you’ll find it: Wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons

Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner bagel

Why it’s scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” I’ll put it more concisely: Avoid it.

Where you’ll find it: Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonald’s burger buns

Scary Ingredient #9: Carrageenan
A thickener and emulsifier extracted from seaweed.popsicle

Why it’s scary: Seaweed is actually good for you, but carrageenan is a mere seaweed byproduct. Through animal studies, it has been linked to cancer, colon trouble, and ulcers. It isn’t certain that carrageenan harms humans, but avoiding it is clearly the safer option. Most studies examined degraded forms of the additive, and research from the University of Iowa found that carrageenan could be degraded through the normal digestive process.

Where you’ll find it: Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles

Scary Ingredient #10: Ammonium Sulfate
An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise.4036996_orig

Why it’s scary: This nitrogen-rich compound is most often used as fertilizer, and also appears commonly in flame retardants. Thankfully, the ingredient only sounds scary—a 2006 Japanese rat study found the additive to be non-carcinogenic. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe.

Retrieved from: Yahoo.com