You may want to avoid food preservatives when you’re watching your weight. They could be one thing that’s causing a standoff.
Food preservatives are substances added to foods to make them last longer; to “preserve” them. They are added to foods that go bad quickly and you’ll find them in all kinds of products in the grocery stores.
If you’ve ever turned over a food product and seen some words you can’t pronounce or have no idea what in the world it is, it’s probably a preservative that’s been added to make it last longer on the shelf. Preservatives work to preserve food in a few different ways. Some prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Other preservatives will prevent delicate fats from going rancid.
This sounds wonderful, but it doesn’t mean the foods containing preservatives are healthy. While preservatives added to foods should be “approved,” this doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be safe for everyone always.
Foods with preservatives are more-processed (foods in boxes & bags), less-nutritious foods to begin with—not exactly health foods. So, even if you don’t mind preservatives, you probably should cut down on these kinds of foods, anyway.
So, let’s learn more about a few common ones, and why you may want to avoid food preservatives when you’re watching your weight.
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
I’ll start with MSG because I consider it to be a nasty (and sneaky) little food preservative. This is a preservative found in so many items & some items you wouldn’t think about. MSG is an excitotoxin, which means it excites cells to the point of damage or death.
MSG has been linked to depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. It’s linked to obesity because it turns off the “I’m full” signal. Another reason you’d want to avoid food preservatives when you’re watching your weight. Especially when they can do things like ones I’ve just listed?!
So, when you look at the ingredients on those food labels (you should be doing this already, wink wink) look for these names that may contain “hidden” MSG. (MSG is rarely listed on the label.)
- Autolyzed yeast
- Hydrolyzed protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Sodium caseinate
- Yeast nutrient or yeast extract
- Torulo yeast
- Natural flavoring
- Glutamic acid
Another thing you’ll want to do is ask your server, when you dine out if they use msg, & if they do ask them to leave it off your food. And don’t believe it’s only Chinese restaurants that put it in their food. There’s a very famous restaurant that begins with an O (known for their chicken fingers & honey mustard sauce) that “sprinkles it on the broccoli” making it taste palatable to customers. Who woulda thought?!
Next up is a preservative you’re very familiar with.
That’s right – salt.
Oh, can the glorious salt you sprinkle on your foods to bring out the flavor actually cause weight gain? Well, when you’re watching your weight, avoiding food preservatives like salt (especially processed salt) & its substitutes can be helpful.
SIDE NOTE/FUN FACT: The term “salary” is from the Latin word for salt. It’s believed that it came from the ancient Romans who would pay employees, allowing them to buy salt. Either that, or it was for their work conquering and/or guarding salt mines/roads. Either way, salt was sought because and used because of its ability to preserve food before the development of refrigeration.
In today’s day and age, with fridges and freezers in every home and grocery store, and refrigerated trucks, salt is not needed for food preservation like it was in the past. Sadly, our taste buds still seem to crave it on an epic scale.
Did you know the average American eats over 3,400 mg (almost 2/3 tsp) of sodium per day? It’s well over the recommended 2,300 mg/day (not quite ½ tsp). Much of this intake comes from processed foods (bread, cereal, canned foods, pizza, etc.). If you eat processed foods, you’ll exceed your recommended amount fairly quickly!
According to Harvard Health:
“… reducing dietary salt (table salt that is only sodium, chloride and iodine) will lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and save lives.”
Not only does salt lead to some Major health issues, but it can also cause you to retain fluid. If you find the scale is not budging, your clothes are feeling snug & you feel puffy, you may want to start watching your salt (sodium) intake. Just a reason why you may want to avoid food preservatives when you’re watching your weight.
BHA & BHT
While there’s not a direct link between BHA & BHT and weight gain, these preservatives have some side effects that cause inflammation in the body & remember inflammation can lead to weight gain. (The biggest effects are on the liver & kidneys & your liver is your detoxifying organ 😉 ). So, getting down to it, inflammation is a reason to avoid food preservatives when you’re watching your weight.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are preservatives added to many processed foods. These two preservatives are added to foods to “help maintain freshness”. They have been deemed “safe” by the FDA, but The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found them to have carcinogenic properties. No Bueno!
Some foods you may be surprised to see these preservatives listed are packaged cereals, potato chips and also gum (thankfully some manufacturers are phasing them out…at least in some cereals).
There are a lot of preservatives in our food supply, and these are just a few of the more common ones. These compounds are mostly found in processed foods and you can see a few reasons why to avoid food preservatives when you’re watching your weight. The easiest way to avoid them is to eat fresh foods.
- 1 bunch of kale washed, dried & de-veined
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 dashes salt
- 2 dashes garlic powder or to taste
Preheat oven to 300F and place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Take the washed and dried kale and rip them into "chip" size pieces and place in a large bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. Mix until the kale pieces are evenly covered.
Place kale onto prepared sheet in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes.
Flip over the kale to cook the other sides of the pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes until the edges just start turning brown. Monitor them well, or you'll have burnt kale chips!
Serve & enjoy!
- You can use any spice, so try onion powder, paprika, or even turmeric.
- Nutritional yeast will give it a cheesy taste.
- You can even use chili or taco seasoning for a Mexican flare.
- Curly kale will “trap” more of the spices.
Does this information make you want to read all your food ingredient labels now? Let me know in the comments below.