As published on The Malay Mail Online
While many of us are becoming more discerning about our food choices, there is something that we hardly take note of: condiments, flavourings or sauces.
They’re typically overlooked as “harmless,” or eaten in such small quantities that their effects seem negligible.
But small, frequent doses of potentially harmful ingredients can be far from benign, having a cumulative biological effect. In fact, there is scientific evidence that more significant health effects may occur at low doses than high, especially for xeno-hormones (toxic chemicals with hormone-like effects).
It’s time to stop giving condiments a free pass!
Mayonnaise aka mayo
Such oils, whether partially hydrogenated or organic, are highly processed and wreak chaos in your body at the deepest cellular level, paving the way for degenerative health problems ranging from obesity and diabetes to reproductive disorders and heart disease.
Some of us are already wise to the dangers of fats hydrogenation and the latest soybean varieties are modified in such a way that no hydrogenation is required to fool “smart” consumers.
The majority of soybeans grown in the US are GMO or genetically engineered and, as a result, are saturated with dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, which has been linked to a growing list of serious health problems.
I wrote about how high sodium or salt is hidden in sodas through excessive sweetness. With mayo, the opposite is true, commercial varieties containing high fructose corn syrup are camouflaged in the savoury taste of mayo which contributes a serious toxic load to your liver.
If you think you can’t live without your mayo, make your own without these toxic additives!
If you consume commercially produced ketchup with your food, you might as well be hooked on a drip of high fructose corn syrup, because that’s primarily what is in the bottle.
Such bottled ketchups consist primarily of overcooked tomatoes, water, and a large chunk of sugar, usually as some form of genetically engineered corn syrup.
Such brands also add “natural flavourings,” which are really flavour-boosting chemicals, the most common being MSG. A typical ingredient list would read as:
“Tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, natural flavours.”
Consumers are aware of the dangers of MSG so it’s disguised as natural flavours. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer hidden in thousands of foods you and your family regularly eat, and it’s one of the worst food additives ever created.
MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, potentially causing brain damage and triggering learning disabilities. Common adverse effects linked to regular MSG consumption include: obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue and disorientation, depression, rapid heartbeat, tingling and numbness.
MSG can be found in nearly all processed foods because it hides under innocent-looking names like in the example above. Other names include flavourings, seasonings, soy protein, stocks and broths, malt extract, carrageenan, and corn starch, to name just a few.
Due to growing consumer concern over the health problems caused by high fructose corn syrup, some manufacturers removed it from their ketchup in 2010 only to reintroduce it two years later due to poor response from consumers. The business principle is the bottom line, not your health.
Just one tablespoon of commercially prepared ketchup typically contains as much sugar as a soda pop. And many people overindulge every time, which quickly builds up your daily sugar load creating insulin spikes along the way.
The only sensible thing to do is to avoid such condiments.
Typical processed cheese dressings are unnatural concoctions bearing little resemblance to food. Your digestive tract may not even recognise this as food, but instead react to it like a foreign invader, to be attacked like any other bodily threat. Digestive Leukocytosis was outlined in a previous article. Consider this example :
“Soybean Pasteurised “blend” of skim milk, reduced minerals whey, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, dehydrated onion, sour cream flavour (cream, nonfat milk, whey, whey protein concentrate, cultured nonfat buttermilk (skim milk, cultures), maltodextrin, salt, autolysed yeast extract, natural flavours, monosodium glutamate, sodium citrate, sour cream cultures, lactic acid, food starch-modified, gelatin, dextrose, dehydrated garlic, vinegar powder (maltodextrin, corn starch-modified, white distilled vinegar), monosodium glutamate, citric acid, sodium hexametaphosphate, locust bean gum, lecithin, spices, potassium sorbate, guar gum, whey, whey protein concentrate, carrageenan, acetic acid, propylene glycol alginate, artificial colours (FD &C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine) and FD & C Yellow No. 6).”
As you can see, soybeans are at the forefront, which we’ve already discussed. And yes, monosodium glutamate is listed TWICE even though once is bad enough!
Food dyes are another type of toxic additive. Every year, food manufacturers pour 7,000 tons of artificial food dyes into foods in the US alone. The majority of these commonly used food dyes are linked to multiple forms of cancer, along with hyperactivity and behavioural problems in children.
As of July 2010, foods in the EU that contain artificial food dyes come with warning labels, and the British government has also asked that food manufacturers remove most artificial colours from foods. In Malaysia, no such regulations are in place so it is left to us consumers to be duly informed and fend for ourselves.
Like the rest of the sauces and flavourings already discussed, steak and barbeque sauces also typically contain a mélange of unsavoury ingredients. For example:
“Tomato puree (water, tomato paste), distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, raisin paste, crushed orange puree, spices and herbs, dried garlic and onion, caramel colour, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum”
Again, you see our No. 1 “heroin”, the little darling of the food industry — corn syrup which is mostly genetically engineered corn. A typical sauce contains two grams of sugar per tablespoon.
It also contains xanthan gum, made by fermenting corn sugar with the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris. This gummy substance has a strange viscosity — it thickens and stabilises a mixture, but when shaken or poured, it behaves more like a liquid.
Xanthan gum is made using carbohydrates from corn, wheat, dairy, or soy, all of which are considered allergens.
There are some low to moderate health concerns about potassium sorbate, a preservative, which is under a GRAS classification or “generally considered safe” by the FDA. It’s best to avoid this additive, especially if you have any tendency toward allergies.
There is some evidence of reproductive system toxicity, although much more research is needed. And caramel colour, as harmless as the name sounds, actually conceals MSG and two other potentially dangerous chemicals, 2-methylimidazole (2-MI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), both of which have been found to promote lung, liver, and thyroid tumours in laboratory rats and mice.
Margarine was invented in a laboratory by a chemist in the early 19th century. By the 1960s, when cholesterol became a bad word, doctors were recommending margarine over butter because it was “naturally” cholesterol free.
A few years ago, however, it became apparent that margarine’s trans-fat not only raises bad cholesterol but also lowers good cholesterol as it is nothing more than flavoured and coloured plastic gel.
The unfortunate result of the low-fat diet craze has been the shunning of healthful fats such as butter, and public health has declined as a result of this folly. There are a myriad of unhealthy components to margarine and other butter impostors, including:
• Trans fats: These unnatural fats in margarine, shortenings and spreads are formed during the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oils into a solid fat. Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance and skin disease; infertility, difficulties in pregnancy and problems with lactation; and low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children. A US government panel of scientists determined that man-made trans fats are unsafe at any level.
• Free radicals: Free radicals and other toxic breakdown products are the result of high temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils. They contribute to numerous health problems, including cancer and heart disease.
• Emulsifiers and preservatives: Numerous additives of questionable safety are added to margarines and spreads. Most vegetable shortening is stabilised with preservatives like BHT [Butylated hydroxytoluene].
• Hexane and other solvents: Used in the extraction process, these industrial chemicals can have toxic effects.
For fear of sounding like a broken record, make or consume condiments made from REAL food I have listed five common sauces and condiments with health impairing ingredient lists, but there are many more examples that can be found.
Those five should be enough to demonstrate that the majority of commercially prepared condiments are not real food but rather a blend of chemicals engineered to taste good, induce cravings, and make money — but offer you nothing in terms of nutrition.
They are loaded with excess sugar and salt, preservatives, dyes, texture and flavour enhancers, and a good deal of genetically engineered ingredients, ALL of which should be avoided to minimise toxic load.
But the good news is, you don’t have to give up condiments altogether! In a nutshell, if you find restaurants serving any of the above, the principles guiding them are the same as those guiding condiments manufacturers, it’s their bottom line, not your health they care about.
There are many other restaurants with better principles, eat there. You deserve it !