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7 Worst Ingredients in Food

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

More than 3,000 food additives -- preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients -- are added to US foods, and this is one of the key reasons why I recommend avoiding most of the processed foods that contain them.

While many well-meaning nutritionists will teach you the importance of reading food labels, the easiest way to eat healthy is to stick with foods that need no food label at all  When was the last time you saw an ingredients list on a grass-fed steak or a bunch or broccoli?

There's a good chance, though, that you do eat some processed foods, and if this is the case reading the label is invaluable. There are literally thousands of 'red flags' to watch out for in the foods you eat, but a handful take the proverbial cake for worst of the worst.      

The Seven Worst Ingredients in Processed Foods

Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy.com, did a wonderful job of highlighting seven ingredients you should avoid eating in the infographic above. She refers to them as the "Scary Seven." If you see any of these on a food label, promptly put it back on the shelf; if you value your health, you don't want to be putting these in your body. Let's take a look at each in detail:

1. Artificial Sweeteners

Experiments have found that sweet taste, regardless of its caloric content, enhances your appetite, and consuming artificial sweeteners has been shown to lead to even greater weight gain than consuming sugar. Aspartame has been found to have the most pronounced effect, but the same applies for other artificial sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium, sucralose and saccharin.

Yet, weight gain is only the beginning of why artificial sweeteners should generally be avoided. Aspartame, for instance, is a sweet-tasting neurotoxin. As a result of its unnatural structure, your body processes the amino acids found in aspartame very differently from a steak or a piece of fish.

The amino acids in aspartame literally attack your cells, even crossing the blood-brain barrier to attack your brain cells, creating a toxic cellular overstimulation, called excitotoxicity, similar to MSG.     


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