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Great Flavor With Healthy Additives

Fitday Editor

Can you really add flavor without adding calories or risking adverse health effects? We have all heard that we should cut down on the salt we add to our foods to prevent hypertension, and that we need to reduce our fat intake to prevent heart disease. When you take away the "good" stuff what are we left with? Boring, tasteless food? Absolutely not! Your healthy meals do not have to be boring and bland. In fact, there are many products available--including fresh herbs and spices--that will help increase your fun with food and still enhance your eating experience.

As we have discussed in previous articles, it is important for you to be an informed consumer--especially these days, when it seems there is a new "magic" pill for everything. Adding flavor to your food without adding additional calories can seem like a daunting task if you are not familiar with what is "good" for you and what is "bad." There are 2 main classes of food additives out there: those derived from "natural" ingredient and those with "dangerous" food additives. In this article, we are going to review common names of both so you will be able to recognize them on your next trip to the grocery store.

Safe Natural Ingredients

"Natural" ingredients are derived from "natural" sources, such as soybeans and corn. Food additives that are considered "safe" include:


Beet juice

Natural oil extracts


Beta carotene






Citric acid

Sorbic acid

Sea salt

Beet juice powder

Lactic acid




Food Coloring

Food colorings are added to foods for 3 main reasons:
  1. To maintain and improve safety and freshness
  2. To improve or maintain the nutrition value
  3. To improve taste, texture and appearance
Keep in mind that these do not necessarily add up to their being safe for consumption.

Dangerous Food Additives

Below is a list of "dangerous food additives" to beware of when purchasing food stuffs:

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

Used commonly in Chinese food preparations. May cause allergic reactions, Alzheimer's, chest pain, asthma, confusion, heart disease and increased weight

Acesulfame K

Artificial sweetener used in sugar-free products such as gum and soda

BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole)

Used as a preservative; slows rate at which fat becomes rancid


Artificial sweetener found in soft drinks, frozen sugar-free desserts, light yogurt, and gum


Artificial sweetener connected to cancer


Fat substitute found in potato chips; affects the digestive tract


Helps to keep foods shelf-stable longer. Found in processed foods such as lunch meats, potato chips, various baked snack items

Propyl Gallate

Preservative found in oils, soup bases, gum & meat products

Nitrites & Nitrates

Enhances flavor & color of processed meats

Being aware of the ingredients in the foods you buy can help you be a more informed consumer. More importantly, it can help reduce your risk of negative health effects, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. If possible, it is always best to prepare your own meals so you know exactly what you are consuming. Your health is worth the extra effort!

Angela Hattaway is a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer with over 15 years experience. She got her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University and she also has a Master's Degree in Business with an emphasis on Healthcare. Angela is experienced in working with both children and adults and loves working with clients to help them set realistic goals and expectations. She is passionate about nutrition and fitness and feels this comes through when she works with people. Angela loves giving clients the tools, motivation and encouragement they need to be successful throughout their lives. Visit her blog at She can be reached via email at at [email protected].

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