Dirty Foods

Nutritionist Carol Cottrill's upcoming book, The French Twist, Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management, describes how processed, or 'dirty foods,' don’t come from the earth - they’re manufactured in a science lab, but pretend to be real. Here, Cottrill speaks more on some of the major offenders that go into the great pretenders

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    The Great Pretenders

    A processed food is any food that has been canned (like soup), frozen, dehydrated or that has had chemicals added to prolong shelf life, provide texture or enhance flavor, according to Cottrill. She said processed foods account for 60 percent of the American diet.
    ©2010 Colin McKie
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    Trans Fatty Acids

    The addition of these artificial, hydrogenated oils containing high levels of trans fats allows convenience foods like cookies, chips, crackers, baked goods, and bread to sit on the shelf for months while still retaining their “freshness.” A New England Journal of Medicine review of more than eighty studies found that trans fats are more dangerous to health than any food contaminant.  The study also showed that you need to eat only 20 to 60 calories from artificial trans fats a day to damage your health.
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    Refined Grains

    Refined grains are good grains gone bad. White rice and white flour have had both the bran (the fiber-rich outer layer) and the nutrient-rich germ removed from the grain. Foods “made with wheat flour” or promoted as “seven grain” could very well be the same old refined stuff with a few add-ons—the same stuff that raises the risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, insulin resistance, diabetes, and belly fat.
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    High-Fructose Corn Syrup

    High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has found its way into just about everything on the supermarket shelf because it's cheap and sweet.  Processed versions of peanut butter, baking mixes, jams and jellies - you name it - all rely on HFCS to enhance flavors, but unfortunately they also include extra calories because of the addition of unnecessary sugar.   Also, some researchers say that HFCS's chemical structure encourages overeating, because it seems to force the liver to pump more heart-threatening triglycerides into the bloodstream.
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    The big name in glutamates is monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that suppresses bitterness and improves flavor.  But as MSG became more widely used in the U.S., reports began to surface about negative reactions to it. Many complained about headaches, nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and depression. Despite heaps of evidence, MSG sensitivity remains unacknowledged by many in the food industry and the government.
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    Artificial Sweeteners

    Researchers from Purdue University have laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to control their food intake and thus their body weight.   Normally when we eat sugar, our body registers very sweet things as having lots of calories and don't overeat.  But when we repeatedly consume diet products, this understanding breaks down—there’s sweetness, but no calories. As a result, we misjudge the sweetness/calorie relationship and may take in too many calories. 
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    Chemical Additives

    The chemicals added to our food in the form of artificial preservatives are intended to prevent spoilage and food poisoning. But it turns out that the artificial preservatives in our food supply age us and cause all kinds of autoimmune diseases, from multiple sclerosis to cancer.
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