We are seeing a lot of healthier food options available in markets these days, and many of the ingredients included in their labelling may seem quite convincing. However, not all products are as healthy as they seem, so we must be aware of the various ingredients labelled in the food we are eating.

Below are some of the common ingredients you will want to be aware of in the products you choose. Many are found in the processed and pre-packaged food available, and you’ll want to be able to recognize them before deciding if they’re right for your specific eating habits.

Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is usually used as a substitute for sugar.  This ingredient is actually a lot sweeter than the regular version, and some individuals prefer it because it is taken in moderation and has significantly less calories. This ingredient is usually taken by people who want to lose weight and stay fit, however you should be aware of its high levels of sugar and use it sparingly.

 Artificial Preservatives

These ingredients are used to avoid food bacteria and mold growth.  Preservatives also help to preserve color and flavor, and will protect the food from becoming spoiled.

Sulphites (220-225, 228) – These are usually added to different dried fruits, so that they will maintain their original color and avoid browning.  They are used to increase the life span of foods such as pre-packaged salads, fruit and vegetable juice, muesli and some cereals. Sulphites are not ideal for a healthy diet, and should be avoided.

Sorbates (200 – 203) – Example of sorbates include sorbic acid (200) and potassium sorbate (202).  This is another ingredient that prevents food from spoiling, and which helps maintain the foods taste, color and smell. While they may cause food to look better longer, this is no way makes them better for your body. Food should age and spoil naturally, and a healthy diet should not incorporate foods that are kept past their natural date.

MSG

MSG stands for Monosodium glutamate, and it is used to intensify a food’s flavor.  Other names for MSG are flavor enhancer (MSG), flavor enhancer (621), maltodextrin, sodium glutamate, sodium caseinate, hydrolysed vegetable protein (HVP), and yeast extract (which contains MSG).

Common foods that contain MSG are stock cubes, soy sauces, canned and dried soups and Asian-style foods.

Instead of using MSG in your food, you can instead use more natural ingredients such as herbs and spices. As an alternative, you can change your cooking techniques to roasting or chargrilling, which are ways to enhance the flavor of the food you’re cooking. This is a much healthier way to find the flavors of your foods and avoid additives that do more harm than good.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS or High Fructose Corn Syrup is a liquid sweetener which is used as an alternative to table sugar.  It was advised that HFCS can contribute unwanted calories which can cause different kinds of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even metabolic syndrome.

You can keep an eye on HFCS by looking on the label of food products.  This ingredient has different terms such as “corn sweetener”, “corn syrup”, and “maize syrup.”  Some foods that contain HFCS are cereals, yoghurt, salad dressings and snack bars.

The mentioned ingredients are not necessarily dangerous, but we should be aware of them so that we are able to take them in moderation or to avoid them as much as possible.  Always check the labels on the products you are using and remember that if you want to maintain a healthy diet, you may want to search for more wholesome and natural ingredients.

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