Unhealthy “Health Food”- Part 2
Welcome back! Last week we started a discussion on health food additives in this post, Unhealthy Health Food – Part 1. We talked about those additives that you see in packaged foods in health food stores; ingredients we assume are ‘healthy” or at least not bad for you. We talked about the gums and seaweed extract additives. We also touched on ingredients which aid in binding, thickening or emulsifying without having to add fat or gluten.
This week I want to talk about texture and preservative agents and flavor enhancers. Specifically, we’ll address calcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, natural flavors and spices.
Calcium phosphate is a leavening agent and an ingredient in cheese production. In small doses, it does not have any harmful side effects. Although, in large doses it can be quite poisonous, causing breathing difficulty, throat pain and gastrointestinal issues, just to name a few.
Disodium phosphate is a sodium salt of phosphoric acid. Used as a anti-caking agent, it increases shelf life and is a thickening agent to enhance food texture. In moderation this also seems to be fine, but over-consumption of phosphates can lead to brittle bones or osteoporosis.
“Natural” Flavors and Spices
On to more mysterious ingredients: “Natural flavors and spices”. These are both used as flavor enhancers, to make us enjoy food more. They are both very ambiguous ingredient labels. Personally, I always avoid foods with these additives, because if the ingredients do not tell you exactly what is in the food, then how can you make an informed decision about whether you want to consume it?
“Natural flavoring” can be a label for a host of ingredients, chemical and not. For example, Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is labeled as a “natural flavor and spices”. MSG causes a number of side effects in some people, including headaches, rashes, digestive problems, anxiety and many others.
Read Your Labels
Obtaining something from a natural source is not the same as using something in its natural state, which is much healthier. A food may be good for you until it is stripped, bleached, chemicalized and dissected in an effort to create certain affects that a food manufacturer needs to enable stability, shelf life, texture, or desired taste.
There are many more additives that cannot be identified clearly on the label. You have to be an inquisitive consumer to be sure you are eating what you think you are. Read your labels closely, and good luck out there!
Go back and check out last weeks post, Unhealthy “Health Food” – Part 1 Here.