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Subtracting Additives: Ditch the Junk, Savor the Flavor

Subtracting Additives: Ditch the Junk, Savor the Flavor

A family gathered around a countertop with fresh ingredients

By Megan McCarthy

As we usher in a fresh start with the turn of the calendar, there’s no better time to prioritize our well-being by taking a closer look at what we consume. With the increasing prevalence of processed foods, additives, preservatives and chemicals have found their way into our diets, potentially impacting our health in subtle yet significant ways. Here’s how to keep these additives at bay and cultivate a healthier, more natural lifestyle.

Embracing a Clean Diet: Kale Yeah!

Start with fresh produce! Incorporate a diverse range of fresh fruits and vegetables into your meals. Not only are these nutrient-rich, but they also lack the additives and preservatives commonly found in many packaged and processed foods. Fresh produce consumption is also great for better skin, happy demeanor and loads of dietary fiber. Win, win.

Read those labels. Scrutinize food labels for any hidden additives, colorings or artificial flavorings. Familiarize yourself with commonly used additive names and prioritize products with a concise list of recognizable ingredients. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient or your grandmother wouldn’t know what it is, it likely isn’t good for you.

Make your meals at home. Take control of your meals by cooking at home. This empowers you to select fresh, whole ingredients and minimize the consumption of processed foods laden with additives and “ingredients” you cannot pronounce. Find a cooking class to help with your journey. How about the bonus of saving money by making meals at home?

Explore organic options when possible. Choose organic produce and products that are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, additives or genetic modifications. Most grocery stores have many options available.

Worst Offenders

Additives and Preservatives to Avoid

Artificial Trans Fats: Often present in baked goods, fried foods and margarine, these trans fats can raise bad cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease. Mother Nature knows her creations and these are not one of them.

Artificial Sweeteners: Despite their low-calorie appeal, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin have been linked to adverse effects on metabolism and gut health.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Commonly found in sugary beverages, canned fruits and processed snacks, HFCS has been linked to various health concerns, including obesity and diabetes.

Sodium Nitrite: Frequently used as a preservative in processed meats, sodium nitrite has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers and other health complications.

Better Alternatives

Natural Sweeteners: Choose natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, monk fruit or stevia to add sweetness to your dishes without the artificial counterparts.

Homemade Snacks: Prepare your snacks at home using nuts, seeds and dried fruit to avoid the additives commonly found in store-bought alternatives. Get that popcorn popper out and start popping!

Fresh Herbs and Spices: Enhance the flavor of your meals with fresh herbs and spices, eliminating the need for artificial flavor enhancers, sugars and excessive salt.

Sparkling Water: Wave goodbye to sugary sodas with a dive into the effervescent world of sparkling water. Add a slice of citrus or a handful of berries real hydration without the additives crash.

By shifting to these simple yet powerful adjustments, you can bid farewell to preservatives and “unidentified flying additives” that creep into your diet. Embracing a more natural and wholesome approach to nutrition can pave the way for a healthier, more vibrant you in the New Year and beyond.

Chef Megan McCarthyHealthy Eating 101, Chef Megan McCarthy

Megan McCarthy is a healthy lifestyle chef on a mission to teach others how to prepare delicious foods for everyday eating. Her creative culinary experience brings healthy foods to life while putting you at ease in the kitchen. McCarthy is the Edible Garden Chef at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and creates recipes focusing on new and creative ways to enjoy the fresh seasonal abundance.

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