Now that springtime has arrived you may be thinking about doing some spring cleaning. Clearing away clutter and organizing your home helps lighten the load for the warmer months ahead.
When it comes to your food, this is the perfect time to spring clean your food choices for a healthier body and mind.
There’s always room to improve eating habits by including the right balance of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and lean protein. However, even if you believe you are an overall healthy eater, you may want to consider decluttering your diet of certain synthetic and non-nutritive food additives that are often lurking in our food system.
In fact, some major food companies are already taking steps to phase out certain additives. For example, recently Kraft removed artificial flavors, preservatives and dyes from its macaroni and cheese.
Here are some typical food additives to be mindful of and consider minimizing in your diet to make well-informed long-term eating choices for you and your family:
ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLORING
Artificial food coloring, such as Blue 1 and Red 40, is used to add or enhance color in many different types of foods such as cake frosting, candy, breakfast cereal, gelatin desserts and frozen treats.
Many of the products that contain artificial food dye are highly processed foods marketed to children. In fact, researchers have been studying the relationship between food dye and hyperactivity in children for decades as well as their potential for increasing risk of various types of cancer.
Some people even report allergies to common artificial food dyes. A growing number of food companies are opting to use food color from natural sources like fruits, vegetables and spices.
Used as a thickener and emulsifier in some creamy foods like yogurt, ice cream, non-dairy milks and salad dressing, carrageenan is a common food additive found in many grocery store products.
Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and although we often think of seaweed as a highly nutritious food, carrageenan provides no nutritional value.
The main area of contention with this food additive is its potential to cause inflammation in the body. Unfortunately, many serious issues like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, digestive conditions and cancer are associated with chronic inflammation.
Butylated Hydroxytoluene, also known as BHT, is an antioxidant additive used as a preservative in foods like cereals and cookies to prevent oils from oxidizing and help maintain freshness. It is approved for use in the United States and is under the Food and Drug Administration’s generally recognized as safe category, but is banned in many other countries.
BHT that has been linked to asthma, cancer risk, hormone disruption and behavioral issues in children. Some food companies are looking into using alternatives to BHT.
Sodium nitrate is a chemical preservative used in processed and cured meats like hot dogs, salami, sausage and jerky. Because sodium nitrate can damage blood vessels, it may increase risk of heart disease and there is discussion of its role in the development of diabetes.
Because many processed meats are already high in sodium and saturated fats, the presence of this preservative makes these foods particularly concerning for heart health. Choose fresh, lean meats like chicken and turkey as well as fish, which are free of additives including sodium nitrate.
CHECK THE LABELS
While studies on the link between potential health concerns and these food and color additives are disputed, their use remains controversial and unpopular among many. To stay in-the-know about the presence of additives in your foods, scan the food ingredients list on the packaging for these ingredients and act accordingly.
If some of the items you use regularly contain these ingredients, look for better alternatives that do not contain them.
Enjoying more whole foods that are minimally processed can help you steer away from unnecessary ingredients.
One sure-fire way to eliminate these additives is to eat REAL FOOD. Real food is single ingredient or what we refer to as Grandmother multiple. A Grandmother multiple may have several ingredients, however, they’ll all be ones your Great Grandmother might have had in her kitchen. Be sure and read my other, more in-depth article on chemicals and moving beyond sugar, salt and fat.
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by LA Daily News. The original item was written by LeeAnn Weintraub. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.