Secret Ingredients in Everyday Food that Can Sabotage Your Diet

February 10, 2014
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InflammationYou may already know to stay away from excess salt, sugar and fat to stay healthy and manage your weight. But do you know all the places these taboo ingredients are hiding out? Avoid the obstacles to weight loss by educating yourself about hidden ingredients that can sabotage your weight loss success.

Sugar

While doughnuts, candy and cookies are obvious no-no’s, foods like yogurt, ketchup, spaghetti sauce and peanut butter may get the green light at your kitchen table. The problem is, these foods are often loaded with sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. Watch out for products labeled “low-fat” as well. When food manufacturers reduce the fat content, they often use added sugar—which doesn’t contain fat—to improve the taste. Low-fat salad dressings are a great example of less fat, more sugar.

Salt

Sodium is necessary in a healthy diet, but too much of it can slow down your efforts to maintain a healthy weight, as well as lead to high blood pressure.

The truth is, you don’t have to be a maniac with the salt shaker to get too much salt. The Mayo Clinic recommends less than 2,300 mg (or one tsp) a day for healthy adults. For adults over 51, African Americans and people who suffer from high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes, a mere 1,500 mg (3/4 tsp) is recommended. Hidden sodium in prepared foods like frozen entrees and canned soup however, can cause the average American to consume more than double the recommended amount of salt per day. Before you stock up on frozen “diet-friendly” entrees, check the label for sodium levels.

Fat

Yogurt has to be healthy, right? While it can be great for your digestive system, just one serving of whole-milk Greek yogurt can contain the same amount of fat as 3 small servings of vanilla ice cream.

According to the American Heart Association, you should limit your total fat intake to less than 25-35 percent of your daily calories, with 7 percent coming from saturated fat and 1 percent from trans-fats. For your waistline and your heart, get your remaining fats from healthy sources such as salmon, olive oil and unsalted seeds and nuts. And avoid foods that contain “partially hydrogenated oils,” another name for trans-fats that are believed to cause many health risks.

When it comes to hidden ingredients, information is your best weapon—learn to read nutrition labels and avoid foods secretly loaded with these unhealthy ingredients.