Food label literacy part 2: sneaky ingredients the food manufacturers don’t want you to know about

Last week I explained why I don’t pay much attention to labels – because I avoid buying foods that REQUIRE reading of labels. I tend to stick to one ingredient foods – chicken, salmon, carrots, broccoli, etc. On the occasion that I do buy foods that require label reading I look out for ingredients that are often snuck in by food manufacturers. Even if you shop at health food stores and use only trusted brands, I still recommend reading labels carefully.

Sneaky foods that contain ingredients you may want to avoid – read the labels on these:

  1. Cooking and salad oils – especially spray oils because they can other ingredients in them besides pure oil.
  2. Soup stock, bone broth, stock, consommé, boullion, salad dressings and packaged spice
    1. look for added sweeteners in both. Some examples are: brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, molasses, agave, maple syrup, dextrose (from corn), honey, high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup etc. These are all basically SUGAR and will do what sugar does to your body (hint: not anything good).
    2. Look for flavor enhancers (they are often sneakily hidden in stocks, spices, frozen, processed and restaurant foods): MSG and MSG-like ingredients like yeast extract and hydrolyzed whey or protein
  3. Anything that says “sugar free”– these foods are often sweetened with sugar-like sweeteners.
  4. Condiments: mustard, ketchup, relish, mayonnaise etc. may contain sweeteners and oils that are not good for you.
  5. Tomato sauce and salsa: these are SNEAKY foods. I have found sweeteners in these foods in health-oriented stores. But, you can find these foods without added sweetener.
  6. Snack foods like crackers, cookies, chips, popcorn and chocolate – these foods often contain hydrogenated fats and other unhealthy oils as well as flavoring and sweeteners.

Next week I’ll go into more detail about healthy vs. unhealthy oils, artificial sweeteners, MSG and other ingredients to look out for.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post below.