ACESULFAME POTASSIUM - This artificial sweetener, also known as AceK, is about 200 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose).
- These substances, when directly added to foods, are intended to improve freshness, taste, texture, color, and other properties. Direct food additives are usually on labels, whereas indirect additives may exist due to packaging, storage, and handling.
Details on research behind specific food additives
Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives & Colors
FDA Food Additive Status List
- New nutrition labels include “Added sugars” that refers to sugars added during processing.
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Labels
ADIPOSE - Loose connective tissue that stores lipids, insulates the body, and acts as a complex organ that secretes enzymes, hormones, and pro-inflammatory compounds.
ADVANTAME - This artificial sweetener is about 20,000 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose).
ALLERGEN - Allergens, typically substances in the diet or environment, have the potential to stimulate a type-I (immediate) hypersensitive reaction through Immunoglobulin E (IgE) responses. Allergens differ from reactions caused by delayed type hypersensitivities and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses.
ALLERGY - Typically an immediate-type immune reaction to an allergen, as opposed to a delayed-type reaction associated with food sensitivity or digestion-driven intolerance.
ALTERNATIVE SWEETENER - This reference refers to sweet natural substances used to replace sugar or corn syrup. Examples include herbs like Stevia, date sugar, honey, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses, fruit juice, and xylitol. Alternative sweeteners vary widely in their effect on blood sugar, nutrients, and refinement.
- These organic compounds make up proteins in muscles and tissues in living organisms and play important roles as neurotransmitters in the body. Some amino acids are created by the body while others must be consumed through diet. Though foods high in protein are generally high in amino acids, some low-protein foods might be sources of specific and beneficial amino acids.
Overview of amino acids and nutrition
ANAPHYLAXIS - A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to allergens with whole-body symptoms such as lightheadedness, flushing, difficulty breathing, hives, swelling, nausea, and skin rash. Severe allergies to food, bee stings, medications, or latex may trigger anaphylaxis.
- These plant pigments are found in reddish or purplish fruits and vegetables such as black rice, purple corn, blueberries, cranberries, red grapes, plums, and cherries. Anthocyanidins have potential benefits due to their high levels of potent antioxidants, though it is unclear how well they are absorbed in the intestines.
Anthocyanin’s and human health
ANTIOXIDANT - These substances are produced within the body or consumed in the diet and prevent oxidation – a natural process that contributes to cell damage. While oxidative damage may drive certain diseases, some antioxidants can act as pro-oxidants and contribute to disease.
ARTIFICIAL COLORS - Americans consume an average of 12 mg a day of these dyes that add color, often derived from petroleum products. Common colors approved by the FDA include: FD&C Blue No. 1 Brilliant Blue, FD&C Blue No. 2 Indigotine, FD&C Green No. 3 Fast Green, FD&C Red No. 3 Erythrosine, FD&C Red No. 40 Allura Red, FD&C Yellow No. 5 Tartrazine, and FD&C Yellow No. 6 Sunset Yellow.
- These synthetic sugar substitutes are much more intense than regular sugar and include products like acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Artificial sweeteners have not been successful in weight loss or disease control, and new research suggests that this pitfall is related to learned responses.
Consequences of high-intensity sweeteners
ASPARTAME - This common artificial, non-saccharide sweetener is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame is sold under the brands NutraSweet and Equal and breaks down in the intestines as aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Aspartame is known to cause problems for certain conditions of sensitivity as in the case of phenylketonuria.
ASCORBIC ACID - Humans cannot internally create this organic compound, a form of vitamin C that is essential for preventing scurvy. Foods high in vitamin C include dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, green and red peppers, guava, and oranges.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE - In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the one or more body tissues in an exaggerated response such as the inflammatory reaction to gluten in celiac disease. The paleo autoimmune protocol is a diet that aims to limit consumption of certain inflammatory foods for people with autoimmune disease.
BIOFLAVONOIDS/FLAVONOIDS - These potent antioxidant compounds produce colors in flowers and fruits and can modify the body’s response to pathogens. A wide variety of flavonoids are found in berries, citrus fruit, onions, bell pepper, green tea, and many other fruits and vegetables.
- BPA, BPS, and other bisphenol chemicals are found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin coatings in many consumer products such as food and beverage container linings, bottles, CDs and DVDs, and thermal sales receipts. These chemicals break down over time and expose humans to their estrogen-mimicking properties. Current attention has been focused on bisphenol A though other bisphenol chemicals may be similarly pose long-term health risks.
EWG BPA in Canned Food
BLOOD SUGAR/BLOOD GLUCOSE
- The amount of glucose in human blood controls our body functions and is dependent on insulin from the pancreas to enter cells. Food with high glycemic index, including many processed high-carbohydrate foods, raise blood glucose levels.
Glycemic index and diabetes
BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) - The BMI approximates tissue mass by calculating the body mass divided by the square of the body height. Reducing high-calorie processed and sugary foods may lower BMI and fight obesity.
BPA-FREE - This claim describes a product free of bisphenol A, though other bisphenol chemicals may be present. Check directly with manufacturers to confirm the presence of other bisphenol chemicals.
CAFFEINE - This stimulant found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate is the most popular psychoactive drug in the world. Despite mild forms of dependency, caffeine has been associated with many positive health effects.
CALCIUM - One of the most important minerals in the body, calcium drives many body processes as well as mineralizing bones and teeth. While dairy products are high in calcium, other food sources include dark green leafy vegetables, fish, soy beans and tofu, and certain nuts.
CALORIE - Calories express the potential energy of a particular food. The term calorie in nutrition refers to kilocalories and is properly written as “Calorie” with a capital C. Women need about 2200 calories and men need about 2700 calories to maintain weight. The number of calories listed on a food label tells you how many calories are in one serving, and packages often contain more than one serving.
CARBOHYDRATE - This sugar or starch is common in pasta, bread, fruits, vegetables, beans, and even dairy. The body uses carbohydrates as its main energy source, and carbohydrates roughly contain 4 calories a gram, and the Institute of Medicine suggests that adults consume 45 to 65 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates.
- A group of pigments in plants that provide yellow, orange and red colors such as β-Carotene in pumpkin and carrots and lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon. Carotenoids are associated with certain health benefits and are best absorbed with fats in a meal.
Summary of carotenoids
CELIAC DISEASE - In response to the consumption of gluten, this autoimmune disease damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents absorption of many important nutrients. Currently the only treatment is avoidance of gluten found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, and rye.
CERTIFICATION - Various third parties, including the USDA, offers certification to food manufacturers for concerns such as fair trade, gluten-free, heart-healthy, kosher, non-GMO, organic, parve, vegan, and whole grain. Each certification has unique criteria and costs to the manufacturer.
CHOLECALCIFEROL (Vitamin D3) - This is one of five forms of vitamin D derived from fish oil or lanolin from sheep skin oil. Fish oil may be dangerously high in vitamin A. Current research supports the supplementation of vitamin D3 over vitamin D2 which is less potent and plant-derived. Vitamin D3 is also made by the body after exposure to direct sun, activated by enzymes from the liver and kidney.
CHOLESTEROL - The body creates most of its own cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids for digestion. Cholesterol is listed under the fat information on a nutrition label. Dietary recommendations from the 1960s suggest that most people should consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily, though each body differs in its response to cholesterol consumption.
Egg consumption and heart disease risk
COBALAMIN (Vitamin B12) - This is one of the 8 B vitamins that support brain and nerve tissue, red blood cells, and carbohydrate conversion to glucose. It is found in many animal products and nutritional yeast, and deficiencies often occur in people with instestinal disorders. There are four types of cobalamin (cyancobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin), and methylcobalamin is currently recognized as better absorbed and retained in tissues.
COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES - These long chains of sugar molecules contain additional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As they take longer to turn into glucose in the body, complex carbs are more desirable than simple carbs for long-term energy and nutrition. Foods like beans, green vegetables, potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and other whole grains contain complex carbs.
- Copper helps support red blood cells, blood vessels, bones, and iron absorption. Foods high in copper include shellfish, dark leafy greens, mushrooms, beans, seeds, nuts, organ meats, dark leafy greens, dried fruit, and avocado. Copper and other metals can accumulate in certain neurodegenerative diseases.
Copper and neurodegeneration
CROSS-CONTAMINATION (CROSS-CONTACT) - This occurs when food proteins that cause allergic reactions accidentally mix with other food proteins in kitchens and factories. In order to avoid cross-contamination, preparation equipment must be cleaned thoroughly with hot soapy water before preparing an allergy-free food. Cross-contamination statements are not mandatory on food labels, so please consult with manufacturers before assuming a product is completely safe for food allergies.
DAILY VALUE - This shows the percentage of a certain nutrient in a food based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The daily value gives you an idea of a food's nutrient contribution to your diet; 5% or less is considered low for that nutrient, 10% to 19% is good, and 20% or more is high.
DIABETES - Type 1 and type 2 diabetes create excessive sugar (glucose) in the blood, damaging vital organs. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the body destroys its own insulin. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by lack of insulin and high blood sugar often resulting from obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. Low glycemic and low carbohydrate diets can help improve blood sugar for type 2 diabetes.
DIET - A diet refers to a special food plan for a variety of purposes including religious beliefs, weight loss, to medical treatment.
DIETARY FIBER - This part of plant foods that we cannot digest occurs in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Fiber helps satiate the appetite, lower cholesterol, and can combat constipation. At least 25 to 38 grams are recommended daily. To be considered high in fiber, a food must contain least 5 grams per serving.
DIURETIC - This can be any substance that encourages the production of urine, including caffeinated coffee, caffeinated tea, lemons, beets, ginger, and other fruits and vegetables high in potassium.
ELECTROLYTES - Electrolyes are minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, and chloride that regulate body functions such as nerves, muscles, and cellular functions.
EMULSIFIER (EMULGENTS) - In food, emulsifiers allow water-based and oil-based ingredients to combine for various purposes such as stabilizing, foaming, dispersing, rising, and anti-caking. Ingredients such as carrageenan, egg, lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, palm oil, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, soybean oil, and xanthan are examples of emulsifying food agents.
ENERGY EXPENDITURE - This value represents the energy needed to carry out basic physical and bodily functions, and total energy expenditure reflects the total calories burned each day.
ENRICHED - Enriched foods have nutrients added to them to replace those lost during food processing. B vitamins, for example, are lost when wheat is processed into white flour, so these nutrients are later added back.
ERYTHRITOL - This food additive is a sugar alcohol that is almost 70% as sweet as sugar. Created from fermented glucose derived from corn starch, erythritol is labeled as zero-calorie and does not affect blood sugar. Large doses may result in negative side effects in some individuals.
ESSENTIAL AMINO ACID - Amino acids are building blocks of proteins for cells, tissues and neurotransmitters in the body. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be consumed through food. In reference to their need in diet, there are six essential amino acids, six conditionally essential amino acids, and five dispensable amino acids.
EXTRA LEAN - According to the FDA, the “extra lean” claim means that seafood or meat contain less than 5g total fat, less than 2g saturated fat and less than 95mg cholesterol per RACC (reference amounts customarily consumed) and per 100g.
FAT - Along with protein and carbohydrates, fat supplies energy to our body and enables fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A to be absorbed. The definition of healthy fat continues to change, and there are benefits in consuming different types of fat from whole, unprocessed foods like fish, avocado, coconut, nuts, and seeds.
FAT-FREE - This FDA-regulated claim is defined as a food containing less than .5 grams of fat per RACC (reference amounts customarily consumed). Fat-free does not reflect the use of fat substitutes in products.
- Fat may be replaced with different protein, carbohydrate, and fat-based replacers in processed foods.
List of fat replacers
FATTY ACID - These sources of fuel in the body affect inflammation, mood, and cellular functions. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 (under the alpha-linolenic acid group) and omega-6 fatty acids (under the linolenic acid group) are now considered essential and must be consumed through food. A higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid intake corresponds to better health in many studies.
FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) - This federal agency protects public health including the supervision of food safety and food product labeling. The FDA collects surveillance samples to monitor the accuracy of nutrition information on food products. Dietary supplements and cosmetics are not required to have FDA approval before marketing, and manufacturers are responsible for making honest claims.
FERMENTATION - This conversion of carbohydrates and sugars to alcohol or acids serves to make certain foods more digestible, preserve food, increase access to nutrients, add probiotics, and other useful nutritional functions. Pickles, miso, kombucha, and yogurt are some popular fermented foods with health benefits.
- Dietary fiber is not digestible and includes both fermentable, soluble fiber and bulk-forming, insoluble fiber. Fiber affects the composition of the intestines and its ability to absorb nutrients.
Fiber and prebiotics
FOLATE (Vitamin B9) - This is a general term for folate in food as well as folic acid used as a supplement or fortification for food. Folate affects growth and development, energy metabolism, DNA production, and brain function. While folic acid consumption through supplements need to be monitored carefully, excessive folate from foods do not pose as many risks. Green leafy vegetables, asparagus, and beans are rich sources of folate.
FOLIC ACID - This synthetic form of folate is used to fortify foods, and the converted, active form is called L-methylfolate or 5-MTHF. The active form is important for lowering homocysteine and often important for some people who have difficulty converting folic acid to 5-MTHF.
FORTIFIED - Fortified foods have nutrients added to them to enhance their nutritional value. Milk, for example, is fortified with vitamin D to aid in the absorption of calcium.
GLUCOSE (Blood sugar) - In the blood, glucose is blood sugar that provides fuel for psychological and physical processes. In fact, the brain and red blood cells rely only on glucose. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, and insulin responds to blood glucose.
GLUTAMIC ACID - This common amino acid helps the body create L-glutamine and is important for nerve impulses, skin, and muscle health. Glutamic acid is a major part of protein rich foods such as fish, lobster, chicken, turkey, eggs, and certain cheeses. The naturally bound L-glutamic acid differs from D-glutamic acid that is found in chemically manufactured monosodium glutamate (MSG).
GLUTEN - Gluten refers to proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. These proteins hold foods together and cause problems in individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
GLUTEN-FREE - The gluten-free claim on food labels must meet FDA requirements for gluten-free foods, including a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million. This claim does not address possibility of cross-contamination or the gluten content of meat, poultry, certain egg products, and most alcoholic beverages.
GLYCEMIC INDEX - This value is determined by how fast or slow a food causes blood glucose levels to rise. High values (over 70) are found in highly processed grain-based foods and starchy fruits like watermelon and pineapple. Low values (under 55) are found in most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and oat bran. Total carbohydrates may be a better predictor of blood glucose than glycemic index.
GLYCEMIC LOAD - This value better describes the impact of a food on blood sugar by considering the carbohydrates in a serving as well as the glycemic index. For example, watermelon has a high glycemic index but its low carbohydrate value yields a low glycemic load.
GRAM - A gram is a metric unit of mass listed on nutrition facts labels. One teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to 4 grams.
GHRELIN - This hunger hormone is also known as lenomorelin and regulates appetite as well as the distribution of weight and energy in the body. Adequate sleep, healthy carbohydrates, and sufficient protein can help suppress ghrelin over the long term.
GMO (Genetically modified organism) - GMO foods are those created from plants or animals with altered DNA. GMOs are patentable and can be designed to interact with herbicides which makes them attractive to many companies. Long-term impacts of GMOs are unclear, and the current controversies involve new FDA labeling requirements that allows GMO information to be accessed through a potentially challenging digital system.
GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) -
HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP (HFCS) - A sweetener that is often used instead of sugar in food manufacturing.
HYDROGENATED - Hydrogenation turns a liquid fat such as vegetable oil into a semi-solid, more shelf-stable fat, such as margarine. Most oils are only partially hydrogenated, which creates harmful trans fats that can raise cholesterol.
LAKE - Aluminum lake is a color additive that contains aluminum oxide.
LECITHIN - Added to chocolates, baking products, and cosmetics, lecithin is used as a thinner, a preservative, or an emulsifier. Egg yolks, soy beans, fish, and other foods naturally contain lecithin.
MODIFIED FOOD STARCH - Extracted from corn, potato, wheat, and other starches, modified food starch is used as a thickener, stabilizer, or fat replacer in foods like dessert mixes, dressings, and confections.
MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG) - Used as a flavor enhancer, MSG is like salt. Though some people may have a mild reaction after consuming MSG, the FDA recognizes MSG as “generally safe” when “eaten at customary levels.”
MONOUNSATURATED FAT - A healthy fat found in foods such as nuts, olive oil, and avocados. When used to replace saturated fats, a diet high in monounsaturated fats can help lower bad cholesterol. Most of the fat in your diet should be mono- and polyunsaturated. All fats have 9 calories per gram.
NO SUGAR ADDED
PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED - See hydrogenated.
POLYUNSATURATED FAT - A fat found in foods such as walnuts, salmon, and, soybean oil. Polyunsaturated fats provide essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s to your diet. Most of the fat you eat should be mono- and polyunsaturated.
POTASSIUM - Essential for life, potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure and keeps your heart and kidneys working normally. Potassium is found in bananas, nuts, potatoes, dairy, and other foods. Adults should aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily.
SATURATED FAT - Usually solid at room temperature, saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat and milk, as well as in coconut and palm oil. Saturated fat is often used in foods to prevent rancidity and off flavors. No more than 5% to 10% of your total daily calories should come from saturated fat.
SERVING SIZE - This section of a nutrition label helps you determine the number of calories and amount of each nutrient in a recommended serving of a food. USDA serving sizes are often smaller than you might eat. So read labels carefully. Even small packages often contain more than one serving.
SODIUM - While sodium (commonly called salt) is vital for healthy nerves and muscles, most of us get too much salt in our diet, often from processed foods. Read food labels to help keep your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day or less. Persons 51 and older, African Americans, or people who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should limit sodium to 1500 milligrams daily.
SUGAR - This section of the nutrition label refers to added sugars such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, and corn and maple syrups. It also includes natural sugars such as lactose in milk and fructose in fruit. If you are concerned about your intake of sugar, be sure added sugars are not one of the first few items in a food’s ingredients list.
TOTAL CALORIES - This number on a food label indicates how many calories are in a single serving of a food.
TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE - This number on a food label indicates how many grams of carbohydrates are in a single serving of a food.
TOTAL FAT - This number on a food label indicates how much fat is in a single serving of a food. Limit total fat to less than 25% to 35% percent of the calories you consume each day. All fats have 9 calories per gram.
TRANS FAT - Trans fats are created when liquid fats such as vegetable oil are hydrogenated into more solid fats, such as margarine and shortening. Trans fats are linked with high LDL cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Keep intake of trans fats as low as possible.
VITAMIN B1 (THIAMIN)
VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN)
VITAMIN B3 (NIACIN)
VITAMIN B5 (PANTOTHENIC ACID)
VITAMIN B9 (FOLATE)
VITAMIN B12 (COBALAMIN)
VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID)
VITAMIN D (CHOLECALCIFEROL)
VITAMIN E (TOCOPHEROL)
VITAMIN K (PHYLLOQUINONE)
WHOLE GRAIN - Whole grain foods include the bran, nutrient-rich germ, and endosperm of grains such as wheat, oats, or rice. Examples include brown rice, corn, and whole wheat bread. Whole grain foods have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than processed white grains. Eating more whole grains can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
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