Over the last year or so I have been attempting to lead a healthier lifestyle. I quit using damaging chemicals to on my hair and body, I start incorporating exercise into my daily life (walks and basic exercise whenever), and I began making healthier food choices. Let me say I am not perfect, and I do not strictly stick to a plan I just take it one step at a time. Every since I have been more aware of what I am eating I have become a label-reading fanatic. I like to know what I am eating and if I am unsure of an ingredient, I will research it.

Cochineal extract, carmine, carminic acid or better known as natural red 4 dyes is derived from cochineal insects. Cochineal insects, scientifically known as Dactylopuis coccus of the order Hemiptera, are native to South America and Mexico they live on prickly pear cacti plants. I have done a little research on hemiptera and they are usually pest to a variety of plant families; sucking the nutrients and moisture needed for the plants survival. The female cochineal is killed, sun-dried, and extracted. It takes 70,000 bugs to make one pound of red dye. At first thought this is gross but now that I really have had time to think about it we consume for worse things than bugs (we eat pigs for god sake). We consume a variety of questionable food and basically if it taste good most people will eat it.

healthy_foodMSG is used as a flavor enhancer. Alone MSG is flavorless but when combined with other flavors, it intensifies the flavor of the food. It does not make food taste better it only enriches the flavor that is already in the food. I personally think that fresh foods already have a burst of flavor and I do not see the need to “enhance” the flavor. Although whose to say my “fresh” fruits and veggies that I buy from the market are not “enhanced.”  I have learned that moderation is key -an excess of anything can cause adverse affects. This reminds me of the saying “ Too much of a good thing can be bad.” We have to monitor what we eat because if we do not look out for ourselves no one else will.

The shocking actuality is that companies are allowed to label items as 0g trans fat when foods contain 0.5 grams or less of trans fats per serving. And serving sizes can be as small or as big as they prefer.  Checking the serving size can be helpful. For instance, 1oz of a 5oz bag of chips with 0.5 grams of trans fat totals 2.5grams of trans fats; it is recommended to only have 2 or less grams of trans fats per day. The only way to know for sure if there are trans fats is to look in the ingredients section for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil it can be vegetable, soybean, coconut, or any other kind of oil. You would think that companies would care at least somewhat about their customer’s trust, enough not to deceive them with false labels just to make a profit. And everyone wonders why Americans are overweight and unhealthy because we are being lied to about what is in our food making it difficult for us to manage our own health.


During this process I realized that there is a lot of misconception out there and everyone has an opinion. But after all the webpages and research it still remains that there is not enough studies in either direction to conclude the safety of BHT. And it is hard to take some of the claims serious if the study is done on rats because who’s to say that it will have the same impact on humans.

The conclusion I have formed is that the exact effects that BHT will have on an individual are uncertain. And it is that uncertainty that will govern my future decisions.  As you may have recognized, I am trying to eat foods with as many natural ingredients as possible. Because BHT is man made and can possibly have harmful effects I am choosing to stay away from this ingredient. Processed foods contain plenty of questionable ingredients and unfortunately experts are unable to provide definitive influences on the human body.

Even after researching HFCS I am still a little confused on whether the way the body processes HFCS and cane sugar truly effects weight gain or not. Of course there are studies on rats and there are correlations that have been put together to make assumptions about the affect of HFCS but there is no true solid evidence. I know that people may be allergic to it but that is true for many other food items as well. Furthermore, credible sources say there is insufficient evidence to prove that HFCS is less healthy than other sweeteners. Because of the lack of ample and concrete evidence corn refiners are able to say that HFCS is just as healthy as other sugars.

There is not enough information to prove that anything will benefit or harm us because we are all unique individuals and we are not going to be effected in the same way.With anything you eat, or do in life in general, pace your self; moderation is extremely important. I try to have a colorful diet and explore different types of food. Being an aware consumer is one of the best things we can do for our health because nothing we consume is ever absolutely good for us there are positives (For instance, Trans fats lengthen the shelf life of foods. It also improves the texture and taste of the foods it is added to) and negatives to everything. Not to mention companies are able to find their way around admitting the truth when it comes to controversial ingredients. And what is even more obnoxious is that laws protect these obscure and deceitful tactics used by companies. The ultimate goal is to eat fresh foods. By doing this you limit all the added ingredients in your diet. (I watched a video where a health expert said that any item with more than five ingredients is not real food.) The good thing about food is that we can (for the most part) choose what we eat.

The choice is up to you.


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