Could Food Chemicals be Undermining Your Health?


When it comes to our diets, making healthy choices and deciding what foods to avoid can be very confusing. As you shop for groceries, always read the ingredient labels and be mindful that even though the product is typically considered “healthy,” it can contain harmful chemicals.

Here are five popular foods and the additives in them that undermine overall health and weight loss goals.

Dill Pickles

Typical ingredients: cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, polysorbate 80, natural flavors, yellow #5, and potassium metabisulfite (preservative)

  • Polysorbate 80 is a surfactant and emulsifier which helps to stabilize the color and texture in pickles, as well as prevents foaming. A harmful side effect is that it can negatively alter the microbiota (good gut flora) in the digestive tract, leading to low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome.
  • Yellow #5 (also known as tartrazine) is an artificial food coloring which is banned in other countries, such as Norway. It depletes the body’s level of vitamin B6, which is required to make serotonin, norepinephrine, and other neurotransmitters. Serotonin is associated with mood and a good night’s sleep. People with low serotonin levels are much more likely to be overweight.

Ranch Dressing

Typical ingredients: vegetable oil (soybean and canola), water, sugar, salt, nonfat buttermilk, egg yolk, natural flavors, garlic, onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid, and calcium disodium EDTA.

  • Monosodium Glutamate (also known as MSG) is a flavor enhancer. It has a long history of causing controversial health problems, in particular: headaches, migraines, anxiety, racing heartbeat and heightened allergy symptoms (congestion, runny nose, hives, and itchy eyes). It is considered a neurotoxin.
  • Soybean oil is high in plant estrogens. Regular consumption of foods containing soy can create a hormone imbalance commonly referred to as estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance makes it very challenging to lose weight, especially in the midsection.
  • Soy and canola crops are heavily sprayed with RoundUp (a pesticide) which is very harmful to the microbiota in the digestive tract. It can cause low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome.

Peanut Butter

Typical ingredients: peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (canola, cottonseed, and soybean), salt, and molasses.

  • Cotton plants, along with canola and soybean crops, are heavily sprayed with RoundUp (pesticide). See above for associated health concerns.
  • In addition, these oils have been hydrogenated, which is the chemical process of converting a naturally unsaturated fat into saturated fat. This type of saturated fat is also called a trans-fatty acid and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and increased inflammation.

Maple Syrup

Typical ingredients: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavor, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid (preservatives), and caramel color.

  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sugar product made from corn and has a higher fructose content as compared to other sweeteners. This is an inexpensive, manufactured, highly processed sugar product, has no nutritional value, and is not found in nature. While the corn industry would like us to believe it is comparable to honey, this is simply not true. Raw, unprocessed honey is a whole food made by bees which also contains flavonoids that are antioxidants, enzymes which promote healing, and probiotics which contribute to a healthy microbiota. HFCS metabolizes quickly in the body and causes elevated triglyceride, cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. These side effects cause rapid weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.

Fruit Snacks

Typical ingredients: corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch, pear juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, strawberry puree, carrot juice concentrate, citric acid, vitamin C, fruit pectin, sodium citrate, malic acid, dextrose, vegetable and fruit juice added for color, sunflower oil, natural flavor, and carnauba wax.

  • Modified corn starch is a food additive made from corn and is added to give texture, thicken, or retain moisture. Because it has been highly processed and had the essential nutrients removed, it adds no nutritional value. However, it provides empty calories similar to white sugar and contributes to weight gain, cavities, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

When made from wholesome, real ingredients, these foods can be an excellent addition to any diet. The key is to choose products without the harmful additives and food chemicals. A good rule of thumb: if you are unable to pronounce or know what the ingredient is, then it is best to choose a healthier version of the product.


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