…If you eat a Nutri-Grain strawberry cereal bar in the United States, it will contain Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1. But that same bar in the UK contains only the natural colorings beetroot red, annatto and paprika extract.
This is the third piece I’ve read today in my daily perusal that has brought up the dangers of artificial ingredients in foods. It is a pretty good round-up of some reasons why artificial flavorings are bad.
We hear a lot about how “X ingredient is derived from coal tar,” or how “red bugs are in our Frappuccinos,” and we read them and publish them for the shock factor. That part sticks with you. But the next time I’m reading a food label at the grocery store, I don’t usually remember what said scary ingredient’s alias name is. Naturally, I know to avoid ingredients I can’t pronounce. And the less the better. But Red 40, soy lecithin, potassium phosphate, and monocalcium phosphate are all unfamiliar words. But what are they really, and are they truly necessary to avoid? A dictionary-like resource that is more credible than Google but more accessible than a textbook would be helpful. One that offers details like how partially hydrogenated oils are code for trans fats. And maybe that exists, but I don’t think many people know about it, utilize it, or can find it in a single, comprehensive place.
Which brings me back to the quote from the first article–why have other countries figured out how to make comparable products without all the fake stuff and we haven’t? Just the other day I went to a World Market store and noticed a bunch of familiar-looking candies with slightly different packaging and wondered if their ingredients were slightly different, too, as the aforementioned blog post seems to suggest. If I learned anything from dabbling with the Paleo diet, it’s that there is an indefinitely healthier substitute for just about anything. (more on that later). I think the most important thing we can do is educate ourselves about these artificial ingredients and what dangers they posses, and realize that there are other options that can be used to create comparable end products anyways. Maybe you’ll have to dish out a little extra cash, but really, what’s more important than your health?