In recent years, nutrition has shifted away from dieting and towards a focus on quality, resulting in the greater availability of convenient and nutritious foods, like Luvo. It’s a great time to eat – food tastes better and is better for you!Still, if you study ingredients lists at the grocery store, you might walk away feeling like you need a degree in nutrition and chemistry to pick healthful foods. Even as a registered dietitian, there are times I feel overwhelmed and confused! While there are many completely innocuous ingredients with hard to pronounce names, others are potentially harmful. Here’s a look at five common food additives and what they do to your body.
A popular way to sweeten food without adding calories. Often used by dieters to help control weight, there is much research to suggest the opposite, that artificial sweeteners may contribute to weight gain by training taste buds to prefer sweeter flavors, triggering insulin release and causing a disturbance in gut bacteria. If you’re using real sugar responsibly, small amounts to sweeten otherwise nutritious foods or a mindful decadent indulgence, isn’t harmful.
Another term for white flour. Although the occasional chunk of crusty baguette or freshly made pasta is perfectly safe (and delicious!), focus on foods made with whole grains or other minimally processed carbs, like sweet potatoes, beans, and corn. Although foods made with enriched flour may not taste sweet, without the fiber found in whole grain flour, it can spike blood glucose similarly to sugar. Plus, it’s missing the vital nutrients found in whole grains.
Artificial colors are often added to processed foods to make them more visually appealing. Historically, there were many different dyes in use by the food industry, but most have been eliminated by food safety regulations after being demonstrated to cause harm. Recent studies have linked 6 food dyes in use today to hyperactivity. Although there’s controversy as to whether this reaction occurs in all children or is a type of sensitivity in certain children, it’s best to limit. After all, who needs artificial colors when you’ve got a rainbow of plants on your plate?
PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OIL
Code word for trans fat. This is a type of processed fat that helps keep food shelf stable, but it can also occur naturally in meats and dairy foods. Trans fats increase artery clogging LDL cholesterol, decrease healthy HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation, all powerful triggers for heart disease. The FDA no longer considers trans fats safe, but this is a case where food manufacturers are ahead of regulations; it has already been taken out of the majority of the food supply. And if you’re limiting frozen pies, stick margarines, coffee creamers, ready-to-eat frostings, and ready-to-bake refrigerated dough products, you’re already avoiding this pesky fat.
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
The risk versus safety of high fructose corn syrup is hotly debated. Although it is chemically similar to sugar, there is some research showing the slightly higher fructose content may cause a greater effect on weight and cholesterol. With this, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
P.S. None of the above are in Luvo products. Cheers to that!