As the feasting time draws near, Americans prepare to sit down to home-cooked meals, catered delicacies, and simple, but nourishing dinners to share among family and friends over the Thanksgiving holidays. When you’re getting ready to prepare your Thanksgiving spread, just be sure to avoid some of these sneaky additives that end up in many family’s meals:
Most people know of shortening as ‘Crisco,’ a baking staple that people have used for decades. The only problem with Crisco is that even though it is often sold as if it contains ‘zero-trans fats,’ (legally companies can claim this if one serving has half a gram or less), there are actually 11.8 mg/g serving. This works out to be 1.4 trans fat grams per serving.
Trans fats cause cell disruption and odd metabolism and are also linked to higher incidence of cancer. The FDA is even (slowly) working to get trans fats off the market. Crisco also has artificial flavors and preservatives like BHT. A better substitute is real, organic butter from grass fed cows. Real butter has higher levels of conjugated lineolic acid and promotes bone health, as well as vitamins like A, D, K2, and E as well as selenium, iodine and lecithin. Yep, real butter offers real benefits.
2. Hydrogenated Palm Oil
Unlike butter or coconut oil, palm oil contains high levels of trans fats, too. Use the other healthier oils, and you will also be saving the rainforests, since palm oil plantations are now encroaching on rainforests.
3. GMO Sugar Beets
Sugar is in almost every processed food you can imagine – even things that you don’t consider ‘sweet’ like soups or salsa. GMO sugar beets are regularly dowsed with the active pesticides ingredient known as glyphosate, so that means when you eat anything that doesn’t contain organic sugar, you are eating a healthy dose of glyphosate.
4. High Fructose Corn Syrup
The Corn Refiners Association has spent millions in an attempt to dispel the “myth” that HFCS is harmful and asserts through the opinion of “medical and nutrition experts” that it is no different than cane sugar. Don’t believe what they say. Even when used in moderation, HFCS can cause heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, and tooth decay – just to name a few negative effects. HFCS is also grown primarily from GMO corn, which means it contains high levels of glyphosate and other herbicide traces.
It is sometimes simply called ‘corn sugar,’ so be sure to read food labels and avoid the stuff.
While nitrates can be found in drinking water and accumulate in vegetables and fruit from Big Ag fertilizers as well as large-scale livestock production– they can be highly toxic and have crept into our food supply to a detrimental degree. They are most often used in lunch meats, sausages, bacon, and other meats often served at Thanksgiving. They are even in some turkeys, used as a preservative.
Nitrates damage human cells and even morph into cancer cells. In small amounts, nitrates are said to be beneficial, but there are already too many in our soil and water to be eating them straight off the Thanksgiving table.
6. Sodium Benzoate
This is a common food preservative, but it can cause a long list of ‘side-effects’ as varied as anxiety to bloody urine. It is used most often to keep food from molding or to prevent the spoiling of acidic foods like pickles, salad dressings, fruit juices, and soft drinks. When this chemical mixes with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), it causes a dangerous reaction that damages DNA. Make sure to purchase healthier options that don’t contain this toxic additive.
Dining on this ‘sugar substitute’ would be like eating a cancer candy bar. Aspartame is largely GMO-produced and may cause blindness, cancer, and brain tumors. As Natural Society previously reported, Monsanto has genetically changed the bacteria (used in creating aspartame) to produce more phenylalanine. When this amino acid chain breaks down, it breaks down into three constituents, including methanol – which has been linked to autism, preterm delivery, and more. This is then broken down in the body to formic acid (which needs to be handled with goggles and gloves in a lab), and formaldehyde (something used to clean drains and embalm dead bodies, and a known carcinogen).
Monosodium Glutamate is another food additive that is hard to avoid since it is in so many products. It has been found to be toxic at one dose, causing fatigue, headaches, dizziness, tight jaw, and even chest-pressure. If you so happen to eat some MSG over the holidays, counter-act its toxic effects with natural ginger, it has been shown to limit MSG’s unsavory aspects.
9. Artificial Colors and Flavors
Artificial, chemical versions of food flavors or colors abound in processed foods all the time. Chemical versions of ‘lemon’ or ‘ginger’ can be in a food that could have just had real lemon or ginger. As just one example, the dye tartrazine has been linked to behavioral disturbances in normal children. Read food labels and try to avoid anything that isn’t recognizable. This will eliminate many artificial food colors of flavors.
While this, by no means, is a list of all the food additives to avoid over the holidays, these are some of the most important. For a complete listing you can check the FDA’s website that lists them alphabetically. There are thousands. Your best bet is to make your own food, and avoid ‘convenience foods’ as much as possible, Buy organic, read labels, and try to use real food in your recipes.
Happy holidays and eat well!
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.