You’re off to the grocery store! You’ve made your shopping list and are confident you’ll be bringing home healthy, nutritious foods for your family. But there could be ingredients hiding inside the foods on your shopping list that are not simply harmful… they could be deadly.
The first hidden ingredient on our list is of utmost importance to diabetics. Sugar is hiding in places you may never expect. Condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, and spaghetti sauce all contain sugar. Even ‘healthy foods’ like fruit juices and yogurt contain amounts of sugar that can be dangerous for diabetics to consume.
The words ‘Sugar’ and ‘Added Sugar’ may appear on nutritional labels, but don’t forget to check the ingredient list, as well. Some manufacturers try to hide the sugar in their products under different names: corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, maltodextrin. All of these are forms of sugar, and all are detrimental to your health.
To keep calorie content down, many manufacturers now use artificial sweeteners in their products instead of real sugar. That does not make those foods healthier choices. Science is now showing us that artificial sweeteners could be just as harmful to the body as real sugar. Aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame are all names for artificial sugar and can wreak havoc in the body.
The next sneaky hidden ingredient is salt. A recent study revealed the top 5 “saltiest foods” in the U.S. While these foods may not be the ones that immediately come to mind, they are responsible for almost half of the salt most people consume on a daily basis. The number one saltiest offender was bread, pizza came in second, sandwiches ranked third, cold cuts and cured meats came in fourth, and soup rounded out the list as the fifth saltiest food in the U.S.
Most people say, “What about potato chips, pretzels, etc.?” Shockingly, potato chips and other salty snacks are not listed in the top five, (but they came close with a ranking of 7.) Some of the other foods included in the saltiest foods list were bacon, condiments like salad dressing and ketchup, French fries, cereals, cheeses, frozen meals, seasoning mixes, and sauces like barbeque and Worcestershire.
New research has found that Americans consume about 3,400 mg of salt daily. That’s more than double the American Heart Association’s “ideal” intake of 1,500 mg daily. A whopping 61% of the salt consumed daily in the U.S. comes from prepared foods and restaurant meals. The best way to reduce sodium is to cook your own food at home and avoid prepackaged, processed and prepared foods.
Speaking of processed foods, our next hidden ingredients are sodium nitrates and nitrites. They are preservatives used in the processing of salty meats like sausage, bacon, and deli cuts. Research has shown that consuming too much of these foods increases one’s risk of developing heart disease and even cancer.
While you can find dry-aged bacon made without nitrates, you’re best served fulfilling your meat cravings with high-quality fresh meats and seafood. When shopping for beef, look for the words “grass-fed.” For poultry and eggs, look for “free-range.” The packaging should also designate that the meat was raised without hormones and antibiotics. When purchasing fish, it is important to look for the words “wild-caught.” This designates that the fish was caught in its own habitat, and not harvested from a farm.
Let’ talk trans fats – our next hidden ingredient. Trans fats are not simply undesirable… they are deadly. Highly associated with heart disease and insulin resistance, trans fats are bad news. When you see the words ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ on a food label, put it back on the shelf. It contains trans fats.
Deep-fried foods and processed foods like chips, crackers, and cookies are the worst offenders. If you’re using shortening or margarine, trans fats are hiding there too. Throw out that nasty fake stuff and get yourself some real butter! It tastes better, and is far better for your blood sugar (and overall health.)
Don’t let the dangers of trans fat scare you away from all fats. It’s important to consume fats, but they must be the right ones. Research has shown that eating a diet rich in good fats lowers risk for heart disease, obesity and type II diabetes complications. According to several studies, it is not the amount of fat you eat that affects health, it is the type of fat.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are two “good fats.” These fats have been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, therefore, reducing risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats can be found in a variety of nuts, as well as in avocado, peanut butter, and olive oil. Polyunsaturated fats, also known as omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in walnuts, and in fish like salmon and mackerel.
Have you picked up on the single thing these hidden ingredients have in common? They are most likely to be found in foods that have been processed. Hiding sugar, salt, preservatives, and deadly trans fats, these foods do your health no favors. Your body needs none of those things in order to function.
In fact, your body will function infinitely better without those ingredients. This in turn lowers insulin and blood sugar levels. Staying far away from these harmful hidden ingredients and instead eating clean vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy can have a truly transformative effect on blood sugar and overall health.