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7 Potentially Unhealthy Ingredients to Watch For on Food Labels


Most of us scan the ingredients on a food package fairly quickly when we’re out shopping. After all, we have other things to do! Even though we think we know what we’re reading, there could be unhealthy contents of a product that manage to fly under the radar.

It’s important to know what the ingredients are, especially if you have a health condition that could be triggered by them. U.S. labels must list ingredients and quantity relative to other contents under FDA regulations, but they are not always explicitly explained. Here are seven seemingly harmless ingredients to be on the lookout for, which may be masquerading as something else…

1. Hidden Sugars

Too much sugar, of course, can be a problem for anyone—whether you’re diabetic, or trying to control your weight. However, while sugar might be listed fourth or fifth on a label, lulling you into a false sense that there’s not a lot of sugar in the product, take another look.

The American Heart Association warns that sugar may show up with other names on a label, and in higher concentrations. That’s because sugary ingredients can also be listed as corn syrup, agave nectar, barley malt syrup or dehydrated cane juice, just to name a few, says the source. Also keep an eye out for additives that end in “ose,” like fructose, it adds.

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