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What are we really Eating? (Part 1)

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

A lot of research goes into our quest to provide our consumers with Ultra Clean Nutritious products. We have always been a brand that promotes clean and healthy eating and as a continued endeavor would like to spread awareness about the dangers of commonly used additives, preservatives and sweeteners that are commonly being used in our everyday foods. Here are a few, to begin with:

1. Sodium Benzoate

Category: Preservative

Sodium Benzoate is a common food preservative used in many processed food products and drinks to prevent spoilage. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid

Commonly Used In

Sodium benzoate is often added to acidic food products such as sauerkraut, jellies and jams, and hot sauces, salad dressing, soda and carbonated beverages, fruit juice, pickles, margarine, wine, as well as in infant and children's vitamins; however, some foods, like cranberries, cinnamon, prunes and apples, naturally contain it

Potential Health Risks

Concerns have been raised regarding it as a possible cause of hyperactivity in some children, though more studies are needed according to The European Food Safety Authority. It may also exacerbate asthma, hyperactive behavior (when consumed in products with certain food colorings), and cause skin rash upon contact. A study in 2007 indicated that it may cause serious cell damage associated with cirrhosis of the liver, ageing, and Parkinson's disease.

Alternate names on Food labels

Benzoic acid, potassium benzoate or benzoate.

2. Aspartame

Category: Artificial Sweetener

Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener consisting of two amino acids, namely phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Because it is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, very little is required to get a sweet taste.

Commonly Used In

Aspartame is usually found in diet or sugar-free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar-free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table-top sweeteners, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, iced tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste.

Potential Health Risks

Studies have shown that aspartame may elevate blood glucose and increase anxiety. Purported health effects include everything from brain tumors, lymphoma, and cancer, fibromyalgia, to headaches, dizziness and insomnia. Aspartame contains phenylalanine and must be avoided by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic condition (A buildup of phenylalanine in people with this condition will eventually result in permanent brain damage and other significant health problems).

Alternate names on Food labels

Canderel, Tropicana Slim, NutraSweet, Amino Sweet

3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Category: Additive (Taste Enhancer)

It is no surprise that MSG is on the list. MSG is created by a naturally occurring chemical called glutamate and looks similar to salt or sugar crystals. While glutamate is tasteless, it can enhance flavors.

Commonly Used In

It is typically found in Chinese food, canned foods, and processed meats. MSG has the GRAS Classification by the Food & Drug Administration which means it is “generally recognized as safe.” But due to the controversy surrounding MSG, the FDA requires that it be listed on the label. However, some foods such as tomatoes, soybeans, and seaweed naturally contain glutamate, and some researchers suggests that glutamate, also known as umami, is another essential flavor that our taste buds can detect, in addition to sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

Potential Health Risks

MSG has gotten a bad rap for years, with numerous claims in late 1960s alleging that food prepared with MSG at Chinese restaurants made people sick; however, many studies report difficulty in finding concrete evidence that there is a problem with MSG. At the same time, some reports have indicated numerous reactions such as headaches, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas, rapid, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. Other reported effects include exacerbation of existing health conditions such as asthma and fibromyalgia, depression, and difficulty breathing.

Alternate names on Food labels

It may be disguised by other ingredients that contain MSG such as hydrolyzed soy protein and autolyzed yeast. Other alternative names are Sodium glutamate, Accent, Zest, Ajinomoto, Vetsin

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Category: Sweetener

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made from corn starch and offers a sweet flavor. It is popular because it is cheaper to produce than cane sugar. Starch is a simple sugar, and when broken down the result is corn syrup, which is 100% glucose. Enzymes are then added to the corn syrup, helping convert the glucose into another simple sugar called fructose.

Commonly Used In

In addition to sweet products, it is found in many other types of foods. Yogurts, breads, frozen pizzas, cereal bars and cocktail peanuts are a few examples where HFCS is found.

Potential Health Risks

Because major health risks have exploded in the past few decades with the increasing popularity of easy to grab processed foods, it is thought that HFCS may increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Alternate names on Food labels

Isoglucose, maize syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, glucose/fructose

It’s not always possible for us to consume fresh grains, fruits and vegetables (nowadays which are also genetically modified or doused in harmful pesticides). But it’s always good to be aware about what goes into your body. Stay tuned for more in our future blogs on this topic.

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