Food Label or Warning Label: Top 10
Worst Processed Foods
By Britta S. (Contributing author from www.swanson
Do you read your food labels?
Have you ever heard the rule “don’t eat anything you
can’t pronounce?” A hundred years ago, this wasn’t an
issue. Today, with all the processed foods in the standard
American diet (SAD), there are over 14,000 man-made
chemicals added as preservatives, artificial sweeteners,
and colors to nearly every food item found on the inside
aisle of the grocery stores. Even the produce aisle is
contaminated with pesticides and herbicides.
Therein lies one of the main benefits of eating an
organic, whole-food based diet. With organically
produced food, be it fresh fruit and vegetables or meat
and dairy products, you don’t have to worry about any
unnatural chemical additives sneaking onto your dinner
plate. You can find more and more organic foods these
days, from local farmers markets, an expanding section
at your local grocery store, as well as natural health web
-sites such as our own.
Unfortunately, many of those added chemicals and
preservatives are what make processed foods, including
fast foods, taste so darn good. So if you do decide to
make the switch and enjoy the benefits of organic foods
and the peace of mind, don’t be surprised if it takes your
tastes buds a few days to adjust. On the flip side,
organically produced food is typically so fresh and ripe, it
provides a depth of flavor you may have never
It’s important to read the label on anything you are
going to put in your body, but what are you looking for
on these labels? I’m sure you glance at the serving size,
calories, fat content and maybe skim through the
ingredient list. It can be a bit overwhelming.
We can't know about all 14,000 chemicals added to our
foods. So, I’m going to give you a list of the top ten
things that I try to avoid when choosing my
If the label reads “hydrogenated oils” or “partially
hydrogenated oils,” look for an alternative food. These
are good indications that the product contains trans fat.
Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps
foods have a longer shelf life. When it comes to fat, trans
fat is considered by some professionals to be the worst
type of fat. Unlike other fats, trans fat both raises your
“bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL)
cholesterol. If possible, avoid foods that contain trans fat.
While the total fat content on the label is important to
read, the type of fat is where you really need to pay
attention. Foods like avocados, almonds, and olive oil
are high in fat, but notice the type of fat: monounsatur-
ated fats. These are good fats. The type of fat to avoid is
saturated fat – the type that clogs up those arteries!
High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS has gotten a bad reputation as being worse than
sugar, but that is not necessarily true. Sugar and High
Fructose Corn Syrup are digested the same way in the
body. Table sugar and HFCS are chemically very similar.
The reason to avoid HFCS is simply excess sugar content,
causing concerns such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease,
Excess sugar is, plain and simple, not good for your body.
Just like we mentioned for HFCS, it can cause many
health complications. Be sure to look at the sugar
content of foods before consuming and enjoy in
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a flavor enhancer commonly added to canned
foods and processed meats. Although the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food
ingredient that has a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)
status, the use of it remains controversial. Over the years,
the FDA has received many anecdotal reports of adverse
reactions to foods containing MSG. The best way to keep
yourself safe is to avoid foods containing MSG.
Blue 2, Yellow 5, Red 40. Science project or ingredient
list? Artificial colorings do nothing good for the body.
They are chemically composed and the best way to avoid
them is by consuming natural foods, free of added artif-
While research is conflicting on the effects of artificial
sweeteners, there is something we know for sure: they do
nothing positive for your body. What they do is trick
your body into thinking it’s getting calories when it’s not
and therefore triggering a desire to eat. Artificial
sweeteners have been tied to excessive calorie
consumption. It’s best to avoid them and choose a
Sodium is necessary for your body to function, but in
excess can cause extensive harm. The dietary guidelines
suggest consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium per
day, or 1,500 mg in certain cases. Most Americans get
well over the suggested amount. The first thing you can
do is hide the salt shaker. Adding salt to food while
cooking or at the dinner table is very dangerous as most
foods are already high in sodium. It is very important to
look at the sodium content of your foods before
A pretty good rule when reading the ingredient list is to
look for the “whole” in the first couple of ingredients. If
your label reads “bleached flour” or “bleached white
flour,” there is probably a better option for you.
Consuming foods like brown rice instead of white, wheat
pasta instead of regular, or whole wheat bread instead of
white will do you a world of good.
Excessive and Unpronounceable Ingredients
List of ingredients seems quite excessive? Can’t pronoun-
nce half of them? It probably means that food is full of
chemicals, artificial, and processed ingredients. A short
ingredient list that consists of ingredients that you
recognize will be your best bet.
Article Credit: Britta, S. “Food Label or Warning Label: Top 10 Worst
Processed Foods.” Swanson Health Blog. Swanson Health Products, published
2 December 2013. Accessed 22 March 2015. <http://www.swansonvitamins.
Image Credit: Samuell. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Superstorewi
nkler4.JPG>. Published 17 November2007. Accessed 22 March 2015.
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