Here are the top 6 ingredients I always avoid when in the supermarket. I basically scan the back of the label and if any of these are listed it goes back on the shelf.
Food additives to avoid
1. Natural colour 160b (Annatto extract) - I've listed this evil little number first because it can be deceiving! It is technically a 'naturally derived' colour, but it can effect children's behaviour in the same way as the chemical versions (I've seen this first hand)! You can find this in everything burger buns, ice-creams, yoghurts, custard etc. Look for the colour 160a instead
2. Artificial sweeteners – Found in food, drinks and chewing gum marked "Diet" or "Sugar free". This stuff is linked to all sorts of healthy issues with scientific studies showing it could contribute to weight gain! Look for artificial sweeteners listed as Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame potassium k, Saccharin, Neotame, Cyclamate or numbers 420-422, 950-957, 959, 962, 965-968.
3. MSG - Ever notice how you instantly feel sleepy after you have had anything with MSG in it? My face turns flushed and I get really lethargic, pretty annoying for anyone like me wanting to increase energy levels. Avoid numbers 621 and 635. But also look out for Hydrolysed vegetable or plant protein or yeast extract which are natural forms of MSG.
4. Artificial colours - These are becoming less popular in Australian supermarkets and many are banned in European countries. In fact, I usually only see these in imported treats and snacks from the US and China. Artificial colours have been inked to all sorts of issues including behavioural problems in kids. There are just too many options available to us know with "no artificial colours" that there is no reason to buy anything containing these. Look for the E numbers 102 tartrazine,104 quinoline yellow, 107 yellow 2G, 110 sunset yellow, 122 azorubine, carmoisine,123 amaranth, 124 ponceau, brilliant scarlet, 127 erythrosine, 128 red 2G, 129 allura, red, 132 indigotine or indigo carmine, 133 brilliant blue, 142 food green, 151 brilliant black or 155 chocolate brown.
5. Sodium nitrate and nitrate – research shows that processed meat is one of the most toxic food you can consume. Dried fruit such as apricots & sultanas, bacon, ham, hot- dogs, pepperoni, salami and many red meat used in frozen prepared meals such as pizzas may contain preservatives 249-252 / sodium nitrate. Instead go for fresh meat and prepare yourself, or look for "certified organic" meats and dried fruits which are free from these nasties.
6. Artificial flavour – Anything that just lists "flavour" on the label means it could include a cocktail of chemicals. Even products that say "no artificial colours or preservatives" can still contain artificial flavour. Look for products free from all 3 nasties!
For more information on food additives check out the queen of food additives Sue Dengate.
Sources: Fedup.com.au, nutrition and you.