How to Read Ingredient Labels!

June 26, 2019

In a previous blog I broke down the nutrition facts table on packaged foods to help you get a better understanding how much of each nutrient you are REALLY getting! In this blog, we will be zoning in on the ingredient list on the label! 




How many of you actually take the time to read the labels on a packaged product before it goes into your shopping cart? And if you do, are you comfortable with your knowledge of what is safe and what could potentially be harmful to your health?


Now remember, ideally you are only purchasing packaged foods on a rare occasion anyway as your best bet for a future of health and vitality is to focus on wholefoods as close to their natural state as possible. The more a food or skincare product is tampered with, the more likely it will place an unnecessary, and potentially even harmful toxic load on your body! 


To learn more about the dangers associated with excess chemical exposure in skincare products and cosmetics, ready my blog post here all about xenoestrogens.


Below is a list of typical "ingredients" found on labels on a lot of packaged or canned foods or skincare products and cosmetics. I have broken them down into those which you should ALWAYS avoid, those which should be limited as much as possible and those which are safe in moderation.


Additives to Avoid

1.  Artifical colours (FD&C)
2.  Sodium nitrite and nitrate (found in lunch meats)
3.  BHT (butylated hydroxytuluene)
4.  Saccharin (artificial sweetener)
5.  Sulfites (especially sodium bisulfate)
6.  Sulfur dioxide
7.  BVO (brominated vegetable oil)
8.  Cyclamate (artificial sweetener)
9.  DES (synthetic hormone in cattle & poultry)
10. TCE (found in decaf’s, use water-processed instead)
11. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole
12. MSG (monosodium glutamate)
13. Artifical flavourings
14. THBQ (butane gas derivative of petroleum)
15. Propyl gallate
16. EDTA
17. Aspartame (artificial sweetener)
18. Propylene glycol (common skin irritant)
19. Aluminum salts
20. Cellulose derivative
21. DHC (artificial sweetener)
22. Dextran/Dextrose
23. Parabens (preservatives including ibutylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and ethylparaben which mimic bad estrogen in the body)
24. Prepackaged, plastic wrapped animal foods (contain PVCs that will not be on the 
25. Silicates (talcum powder)
26. Smoke flavourings 
27. Polysorbates
28. Sodium benzoate (E211)
29. Diacetyl

30. Phthalates (found in nail polish and hairspray)

31. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (foaming agent in shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash and toothpaste)


Safe Additives

1.  Vitamins A, C & E
2.  Beta-carotene or Carotene
3.  Carrageenan (seaweed extract)
4.  Annatto (natural colouring agent)
5.  Acids (citric, sorbic, lactic, acetic, benzoic, malic)
6.  Alginates (natural extracts of seaweeds)
7.  Minerals (iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, etc.)
8.  Glycerin (mono & diglycerides)
9.  Pectin
10. Natural flavourings
11. Calcium proprionate
12. Sodium bicarbonate
13. Lecithin
14. Casein and lactose (protein found in cow’s milk) if no known intolerance
15. Vanillin
16. Agar-Agar (seaweed extract)
17. Fructose (natural sugar)
18. Iodine salts
19. Rennet
20. Whey protein isolate

Additives OK in moderation
1. Sugars (sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup)   
2. Salt (sodium chloride), soy sauce     
3.  Cornstarch (may be allergic for some)
4   Caffeine           
5.  Gums (acacia, guar gum, xantham)           
6.  Yeasts (overgrowth needs to be considered in some people) 
7.  Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) (ok in small amounts)
8.  Hydrogen peroxide (do not add to food but safe in food processing)
9. Quinine (flavouring agent that can cause allergies and is not recommended for pregnant women)



So there you have it! I can't say butane derivatives have ever been high on my favourite foods list! How about you?


If the thought of what might be lurking in your packaged food is enough to send you into a tailspin, there is another alternative! Meal planning! Or even better still....having your meals planned FOR YOU!


If you are looking for some help to make healthy eating a stress-free habit in your household, I can help!


Perhaps you have a desire to lose weight, improve your energy, get relief from uncomfortable digestive symptoms or balance your hormones but just don't know where to start! I can help with that too! All through the power of nutrition!






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