4 Ingredients to Avoid in Food and Drinks and Their Healthier Alternatives
Now that you know which ingredient-checking apps to arm yourself with before your next shopping trip – which ingredients should you be checking for?
Below we’ve listed out four ingredients to avoid in foods or drinks and which healthy alternatives to reach for instead. Not all types of sweetener, flour, oil, and salt are bad for you, but many of their most prevalent manifestations contain the less-than-healthy ingredients below.
About 200 times sweeter than sugar and with only 4 calories per gram, aspartame is the ingredient in NutraSweet and Equal. Commonly found in products like diet soda and chewing gum, it has been shown to cause an array of health problems with consistent consumption. Among these, damage to your immune and gastrointestinal systems, neurological disorders, depression, headaches, and fatigue.
Stevia rebaudiana is a type of plant from South America that’s been used as a sweetener for hundreds of years. In 2008 it was approved in the U.S. for consumption and since then it’s become increasingly prevalent as an ingredient in all-natural variations of low-calorie products. Like aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, it contains a negligible amount of calories and does not contribute to tooth decay. Unlike those other sweeteners, Stevia is all-natural, doesn’t increase your cravings for sweets, and might even have health benefits for those who suffer from diabetes and hypertension.
Avoid Enriched White Flour:
Also called “Potassium Bromate”, enriched flour is used in most commercially available breads to increase their shelf life and give them a finer texture. Enriched flours have been stripped of healthy, naturally-occurring nutrients and synthetic, unhealthy versions of these nutrients are added in later. It is absorbed by your body as pure starch, giving you insulin highs and lows like when you consume pure sugar and increasing your risk of diabetes and obesity-related issues.
Choose Healthy Flours:
Look for whole grain wheat flour in bread products, and buy unprocessed flours for cooking. There are healthy, delicious flours made from all sorts of grains, even fruits and vegetables! These vary in their glycemic index (i.e. how they affect your insulin levels) and several of them are gluten-free, making them suitable for those with wheat allergies. Some good alternatives include almond flour, quinoa flour, rye flour, and oat flour.
3. Cooking Oils
Avoid Refined Vegetable Oils:
Common offenders include soybean, peanut, and canola oils. These oils get extracted from their seeds in a refining process which exposes them to toxic chemical solvents, bleaching, and extremely high temperatures. Most refined vegetable oils are hydrogenated, meaning they contain trans fats that contribute to cancer and heart disease.
Choose Coconut Oil:
Substitute vegetable oils for unrefined, non-hydrogenated coconut oil. Once vilified for being 90% saturated fat, coconut oil is such a superfood precisely because of these health-promoting fats. Coconut oil has been shown to increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, prevent infections, boost brain function, prevent heart disease and aid in weight loss. Read more about the amazing benefits of coconut oil and more at Well-BeingSecrets.com.
Avoid Table Salt:
Common table salt, or sodium chloride, is manufactured by heating up natural salt to extremely high temperatures. The result is a substance that is stripped of all the naturally-occurring ingredients that make real salt healthy. Table salt can cause rapid increases in blood pressure, as your body attempts to move the toxic elements away from your heart. Excessive consumption of table salt has short-term impacts like water retention and can cause chronic imbalances like diabetes and obesity in the long run.
Choose Sea Salts:
In their natural form, salts contain trace elements that contribute to proper hydration, as well as immune and thyroid function. Salt also plays a role in balancing blood sugar levels, extracting excess acidity from blood cells and absorbing food particles in the intestinal tract. Hailed as the purest variety, Himalayan salt is said to be millions of years old and untouched by the toxins that exist in some other types of sea salts.