7 Ingredients You Don’t Want to See on Your Nutrition Label

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Despite the current push to educate consumers on how to read and understand nutrition labels, they can be difficult to understand, especially when it comes to the list of ingredients. This primer is meant to help you pinpoint seven ingredients that you should always avoid. So, if after a quick glance, one of these ingredients is listed on the package, choose another option.

1. Parabens: Intended to keep foods shelf-stable, recent studies indicate that these types of synthetic preservatives can actually alter your body’s hormones.

2. Partially Hydrogenated Oil: Most people know that they shouldn’t eat trans fats. However, the FDA has given manufacturers a pass, allowing them not to note the presence of trans fats if the amount is less than half a gram per serving. If you see partially hydrogenated oil, there are trans fats in the product, even if the daily values say “O.”

3. BHA: Yet another preservative, this ingredient is believed to do more harm than good, and was recently shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

4. Caramel Coloring: Made by treating sugar with ammonia, this carcinogen creator should be avoided at all costs.

5. Sodium Nitrite: Not all nitrates are bad; however, the ones added to cured meats are. Once eaten, they can fuse with amino acids and transform in your body into a carcinogenic compound known as nitrosamines.

6. Dyes: Every year, new studies indicate that food colors cause drastic changes in how our bodies function, yet manufacturer’s keep pumping them into our foods and the FDA does nothing. From hyperactivity (Yellow 5) to Red 3, which is known to cause tumors, avoid these at all costs.

7. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein: Often used as a flavor enhancer alternative to adding MSG to products. However, once eaten, this ingredient turns into MSG in your body, which can cause everything from swelling to nausea.