5 Harmful SECRETIVE Substances in our Foods

Posted on September 26, 2017 by Fiona Chia

#1. Sodium Nitrite

Nearly all processed meat and canned soups contain sodium nitrite. This type of salt is used to cure meats like ham, bacon and hot dogs, helping to preserve them. It provides the desired colour and flavour of these processed foods. Sodium nitrate prevents spoilage by inhibiting the growth of botulism-causing bacteria and Listeria monocytogenes, hence prolonging the shelf-life of foods. However, not only does sodium nitrite increases blood pressure, it is also a cancer-causing ingredient.

Tip: Choose wisely! You do not want this harmful substance to be in your food. Go for unprocessed fresh produce!

#2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

HFCS is a man-made sweetener being used as a replacement for sucrose (table sugar). It is commonly found in a wide-range of processed food like sodas, fruit-flavoured drinks, pasta sauces or salad dressing. Similarly to sugar, it is broken down into glucose in the body. High consumption of HFCS will cause Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Hence, we have to be cautious that the total amount of sugar stated in the nutrition information panel (NIP) of a product does not include HFCS.

Tip: You are already sweet enough, take less sugar! Be aware and ditch all foods containing HFCS in their ingredient lists.

#3. Food Stabilisers

Food stabilisers like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are commonly used as preservatives to increase the shelf life of food products. Pick up a box of cereals/cookies, a bag of chips or a pack of sausages, chances are that you will find these preservatives in the ingredient lists! They preserve the colours, odours and flavours of these food products. Although these synthetic preservatives are safe for consumption in minute amounts, they still carry cancer-causing properties as well.

Tip: Whip up your own dish with fresh ingredients instead, like baked potatoes and baked chicken. Cut down on ready-to-eat food products!

#4. Food Colorants

Food colourings are chemicals used to enhance/maintain the appealing appearance of products like processed foods (e.g. sweets/gummies/vitamin pills), drinks and condiments. Although food colourants are tested to make sure they are safe for consumption, the origins of these several dyes include petroleum, crude oil or even bugs!

Tip: Eat natural colourings from pumpkin, beetroot or berries! The pigments contain antioxidants such as anthocyanin and beta-carotene which prevents oxidative damage to cells.

#5. Trans-Fat

Many products have been labeled as ‘trans-fat free’. However, that may not necessarily be the case! They may still contain an insignificant amount of it hence, they are allowed to label as ‘trans-fat free’ (less than 0.05g/100g). Watch out for them as they can be found in your low-fat, cholesterol-free products. You may just be slowly accumulating these trans-fat in your body!

Tip: Avoid highly-processed food products containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, palm oil or shortening.