It appears that many people worldwide now share the same goal regarding their food consumption – to establish a healthy, sustainable, and nutritionally balanced diet. Gone are the days of popular but highly restrictive diets and unhealthy fast and processed foods. 

And although people seem to be more aware of what they consume and how it affects their weight and overall health, efficient marketing still manages to get under our skin and sell some harmful food ingredients disguised as sugar-free, preservative-free, or unprocessed products. Thankfully, as a weight-loss Chicago center explains, taking some time to read the labels can help us gain an insight into what is actually healthy and what should be avoided at all costs. To gain a better understanding of toxic and harmful substances, we’ve highlighted some of the most prominent ingredients you should avoid:

  • Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)
    Brominated vegetable oil is an additive often found in citrus soda. Its primary purpose is to keep that citrus flavoring from separating out in beverages. However, BVO contains bromine, which is linked to headaches, memory loss, skin irritations, and impaired balance. It’s also important to add that this substance is banned from use in Europe, Japan, and India, but it’s still widespread in the United States.
  • Artificial flavors and colors
    As you can assume, there’s nothing natural about artificial flavors and colors. The research findings on their effects on our bodies are mixed, but many people are highly sensitive to them and often experience numerous side effects. Artificial flavors are often added to food and beverages titled as healthy or low-calorie, so it’s better to stay away from them and instead choose homemade solutions.

When it comes to artificial colors, some of them are more harmful than others. For example, the colors blue (1 and 2), green (3), red (3), and yellow (6) have all been linked to adrenal, thyroid, bladder, brain, and kidney cancers. In addition to that, the colors blue (1), red (40), and yellow (5 and 6) are banned from use in Europe because they are linked to hyperactivity and inattention in kids. It’s important to note that these colors are still in use in the United States.

  • Partially hydrogenated oil
    Partially hydrogenated oil and shortening should also be avoided. These evil trans fats are linked to obesity, clogged arteries, and risk of metabolic syndrome. When reading labels, look for foods that contain healthier monounsaturated fats, such as olive, peanut, and canola oils.
  • Artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup
    Artificial sweeteners are often the go-to ingredients for many manufacturers who claim to sell healthy, sugar-free food. But just because it’s sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s a healthier alternative. In fact, zero-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose may be more harmful to our metabolic systems than the good old regular sugar. Moreover, these sweeteners can trick our brains into believing that sweet doesn’t mean extra calories, leading to overindulging and weight gain. Besides craving sweets, some research has also shown that these sweeteners may be linked to migraines, increased risk of metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

Besides artificial ingredients, it’s important to mention high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as another enemy of your health and weight. Although we’ve decreased refined sugar consumption over the years, we’ve actually increased the consumption of this substance. Some research has shown that Americans consume more calories from HFCS than any other source. It’s included in virtually everything. This sweetener boosts fat-storing hormones, increases triglycerides, and leads people to overeat and gain weight.