Have you seen those commercials about high-fructose corn syrup? The ones that actually imply that high-fructose corn syrup is just fine since it originates as corn!?! The commercials would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that Americans are so confused about making healthy food choices that some may be won-over by the commercials.
With all of the healthy eating diets and theories out there, it’s not hard to understand why we’re confused. But, if you step back and look at the big picture, there is one over-riding principle when it comes to separating the junk from the nutrition: eat food that’s as close to it’s original form as possible. That is, eat corn, not high-fructose corn syrup. Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why is my favorite food wisdom resource. Here’s a quick bit of advice for evaluating food options at the grocery store.
Ingredients to Avoid
- Pesticides: Yup, if you buy conventional produce, you’ve got to realize the insect poison is on your menu. These poisons are linked to asthma, luekemia and cancer. Is it surprising that poisons wreak havac on little children’s bodies?
- Preservatives: If you buy more fresh, whole foods you’ll avoid preservatives naturally. But, when buying prepared foods like breads avoid BHA and BHT. Both have been linked to cancer.
- Artificial Sweetners & Flavors: Artificial is not good. Ever. Big-business likes to come up with “new” sweetners such as Aspartame, Nutrasweet/Equal, Saccharine/Sweet n’low, and Sucralose/Splenda. Don’t be fooled. Artificial sweetners usually turn out to be worse than normal sugar, once the lab studies catch up with production.
- Corn Syrup/High-fructose Corn Syrup: Yes, it comes from corn, but by the time they’ve processed it to this point, your body can’t digest it like a normal food. Both have been linked to obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.
- Trans Fats/Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Recently our society has officially “condemned” these ingredients, but they’re still in many processed foods in the grocery store. They contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol.
- Sodium Nitrates: These are found in deli meats, hot dogs, sausage and bacon. Sodium nitrates cause cancer. Many nitrate-free products are available, when you’ve just got to have that deli sandwich.
- MSG/Hydrolized Protein: This is a cheap flavoring that’s been shown to directly attack neurons. MSG can cause a range of responses from headaches to shortness of breath to a racing heart.
- Caffeine: With a high/low rollercoaster effect much like sugar, it’s wise to avoid caffeine in chocolate and tea as possible. Make sweets a “special treat”, not an everyday occurance.