Food and Nutrition

7 Harmful Ingredients in Packaged foods

Puja Sharma Vasisht
All age groups

Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht
Updated on Oct 13, 2015

7 Harmful Ingredients in Packaged foods

Feeling hungry?  Grab a packet of high-fiber biscuits.
Thirsty? A fizzy drink? No. I am health conscious, so I will take packed juice.
The convenience of packaged foods seems to be hijacking our eating habits quite rapidly. Everyday these seemingly healthy packaged options are becoming part of our lives. But are they really healthy? Let’s find out.

Watch out for:
1)Hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (also commonly known as dalda or margarine or vegetable ghee) commonly found in-

  • Baked goods like biscuits, cookies, cakes etc
  • Snacks such as potato, corn and tortilla chips, packaged or microwave popcorn
  • Fried food Foods that require deep frying — french fries, fried chicken, Indian snacks like samosa, pakora, kachori, jalebi can contain trans fat from the oil used in the cooking process
  • Margarine – sandwich/ salad dressings and toppings

Why should it be avoided?

These are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature (this in turn means better business for food companies as transfats increase the shelf life of food). But this process causes production of trans fats which raises the LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol. This makes both adults and children susceptible to heart diseases. Children who are consuming too much at a young age get exposed to the health damages of transfats, coronary problems and diabetes  at an early age itself says a study published in the Paediatric Nursing.

2)Refined flour or maida is often masked by deceptive label claims such as
Made with wheat flour or multi grain
Even more sneaky ways are white-flour breads topped with a sprinkling of oats
so-called brown bread which may be just colored brown with molasses.
Why should it be avoided?
Refined stuff that raises risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, insulin resistance, diabetes, and belly fat.
Read the ingredient list on packaged grain products. If the product is one of those that are best for you, the first ingredients should be whole wheat or another whole grain, such as oats. The fiber content should be at least 3 grams per serving.

3)High Fructose corn syrup is a derivative of corn and is high in fructose sugar and used for seasoning.  To spot fructose on a food label, look for the words “corn sweetener,” “corn syrup,” or “corn syrup solids” as well as “high-fructose corn syrup. It is less expensive than traditional forms of sweeteners and so is used rampantly by the packaged food manufacturers. It is commonly found in:
drinks and sweets, candies
whole-wheat bread, buns, muffins
sauces and even ketchup.
Why should it be avoided?
It may upset the human metabolism, raising the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers say that high-fructose corn syrup’s chemical structure encourages overeating. Fructose may zap your body’s reserves of chromium, a mineral important for healthy levels of cholesterol, insulin, and blood sugar. When it comes to sweet products, also avoid products that have Saccharin or aspartame, an artificial sweetener which again has been associated with cancers in bladder, uterus, ovaries and skin. As a rule avoid foods that have sugars ending in “ose” such as fructose, glucose.

4)MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG) is a flavor enhancer added to foods popular with children. Another popular name for it is Ajinomoto. It is commonly found in

Instant noodles
Chinese sauces (including soy sauce)
Soups and ready-to-eat foods (curries and gravies)

Why should it be avoided?
It is an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your nervous system cells leading to potential brain damage to varying degrees and possibly even triggering or worsening learning disabilities. Common adverse effects linked to regular consumption of MSG include obesity, eye damage, headaches, fatigue and disorientation, depression, rapid heartbeat, tingling and numbness.

5)Antioxidants Now this is a tricky one. The antioxidants found in packaged foods are very different from the ones in fruits and vegetables that you are encouraged to eat. Synthetic antioxidants are added to increase the shelf life of packaged food as they help fats in foods from getting rancid when exposed to oxygen. Some of them like BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) can be harmful to the health. These are commonly found in

preserved foods such as juices, candies
packaged off-the-shelf chips, cakes and muffins
all packaged foods that use fat

Why should it be avoided?
Some people have difficulty metabolizing these chemicals, which is thought to result in health and behavioral problems, and hyperactivity. They cause allergic reactions, as well as be toxic to the nervous system and liver. Avoid products that are enriched because that can indicate synthetic antioxidants.

6)COLOURING. They are also known as nature identical colours, or natural colours. The long list of foods and beverages in which color is added includes
Butter and margarine
Candied or preserved cherries, jellies, jellybeans
carbonated beverages
canned strawberries and pears
Why should it be avoided?

These artificial colours are known to cause short-term and long-term health damages starting from throat allergies and infections to asthma, allergies and even hyperactivity.

Natural flavours/Nature identical flavours are laboratory made and contain chemicals.  An orange flavoured cream biscuit that says nature-identical flavours may not have any real fruit in it but just a cocktail of chemicals to imitate the flavor of orange. The distinction between natural and artificial flavorings is the source of chemicals. Natural flavors are created from anything that can be eaten (i.e animals and vegetables), even if those edible things are processed in the lab to create flavorings. Commonly found in nearly all packaged foods like
namkeens and chips, biscuits
ice creams
In general, if a food is processed you can assume it will contain one of these harmful ingredients. Eating a whole, fresh food diet is your best, if not only, guaranteed way to avoid these toxins.





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| Apr 13, 2016

Hi this is awesome n very useful information for all of us... We surely take a note on this.... Ascwe know somehow DAT this packed food are not gud for our health but we r habitute... Thanks

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| Oct 30, 2015


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| Oct 20, 2015

vgood information. We will try our best to avoid such kind of food and encourage our children to take natural diet. Thanks.

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| Oct 19, 2015

@Pooja, you may use cerelac for it convenience and may give freshly prepared porridge of suji, sago, rice flakes etc.

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| Oct 18, 2015

Is nestle cerelac good for baby?? My lo is 7. 5,months old

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| Oct 18, 2015

That was a new information for me.. Thank you so much..

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| Oct 15, 2015

Yeah, trying hard as a parent to provide the most natural nutrition to my kid in this age of packaged food

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| Oct 14, 2015

Superb information.... thank you very much

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| Oct 13, 2015

Well written puja . I also wanted to add "pickles" to this list which have lots of synthetic salt (more chances of hypertension ), preservatives like sodium benzoate (carcinogenic - cancer causing tendency), artificial colouring agents and increased risk of gastric /esophageal cancers (if consumed daily ,in abundance over a long span of time ).

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| Oct 13, 2015


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