Top 5 unhealthy ingredients in snacks| Tips to understand the nutritional panel

Learn how to navigate the nutritional panel with these top five unhealthy ingredients that you should look out for in snacks!

Healthy? Snack? How do these two work?

Snacks can be great for your well-being because you can eat them on the go, satisfy your cravings, munch on when feeling peckish and provide a quick energy boost to get you through the day or as a midnight snack. Snacks get a bad rap because some of them are high in total fat, especially saturated and trans fats, sugar and sodium. But if you choose the right snacks, then you can be all the better for it. 

A healthy snack contains high amounts of nutrients (i.e. proteins, vitamins, minerals) and fibre that can boost your immunity and digestive system yet low in calories, sugar, sodium and those pesky bad fats. 

But, where to start? We often go to the ingredients list and nutritional panel on the packet. But all the numbers, jargon and seemingly made-up words can be quite confusing. To choose healthier snacks, we need to understand what we’re eating. Treat your body with respect and get a smile on your face. You are what you eat. 

woman holding sliced watermelon

Learn how to navigate the nutritional panel with these top five unhealthy ingredients that you should look out for in snacks: 

1. Artificial food colouring

Artificial food colours are in a wide range of products, including: 

  • Red velvet cakes
  • Colas
  • Candy
  • Gum
  • Mint ice cream & icy poles
  • Soy sauce

For instance, authentic soy sauce is naturally produced via a fermentation process that can take months to years but requires no flavourings and colourings. However, hydrolyzed soy sauce is produced by reacting soy beans with food grade hydrochloric acid over roughly three days. Since hydrolyzed soy sauce is originally a yellow colour, it needs artificial colours like 150a. 

More importantly, artificial food colours are synthesized in a lab from PETROLEUM. Disgusting!

Also, this ingredient has no benefits and can induce allergic reactions. Indeed, my high school classmate couldn’t consume anything with red and blue food colouring because of its effects on her. 

Some colours, like Blue 2 and Red 3, can increase the risk of brain and thyroid cancers while others like Red 40 can contain carcinogens that cause cancers. They can even impact learning and cause hyperactivity in children! Moreover, the presence of artificial food colours typically indicates high amounts of trans fat and added sugar. 

Search for words like ‘artificial’, ‘synthetic’ or a colour followed by a number (e.g. Red 40) which indicate flavours. For our vegetarian and vegan friends, we also suggest keeping an eye out for carmine – a bug-derived food colouring that is still used today. 

Here at SnackProud, we take pride in our x50 broccoli chips and other products that have no artificial flavours (and no carmine!)

2. Trans and saturated fats

Saturated fats increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and raise your levels of ‘good’ HDL and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol as they lack the double bond(s) present in the beneficial unsaturated fats. 

A type of unsaturated fat is trans fats that are naturally found in  low percentages within dairy and animal products, primarily cattle and goats. 

Trans fats are artificially produced in a partial hydrogenation process where hydrogen gas is reacted with unsaturated fat at high temperature. Trans fats lower HDL levels but increase LDL and triglyceride levels which can increase the risk of inflammation and clogging of your arteries.  

The consumption of trans/saturated fats and heart health was proven in this 2017 scientific article.

E.g. of snacks laden with saturated fat include:

  • Fried food
  • Buttered popcorn
  • Candy bars
  • Chips
  • Pancake mix

In essence, repeated indulgence of your fried food cravings may be doing you more harm than good! Avoid eating snacks with high bad fats and substitute them with healthier options, like our proud peas npop option. This is a perfect snack to eat while studying, working or watching a movie!

Life Hack: Watch out for ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ on the packet! Sometimes, a snack actually contains 0.5 g of trans fats but actually reports 0 g of trans fats and only list ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ in the ingredient’s list instead.  

3. High fructose corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is manufactured by the hydrolysis reaction between corn-starch with hydrochloric acid that is catalyzed by three enzymes – .a-amylase, glucoamylase and glucose isomerase. Fructose is much sweeter than the refined table sugar. Refined table sugar contains 99% sucrose – a disaccharide made from fructose and glucose. Moreover, fructose is directly absorbed into your bloodstream, unlike sucrose which must be metabolized.

High-fructose corn syrup is manufactured by the hydrolysis reaction between corn-starch with hydrochloric acid that is catalyzed by three enzymes – .a-amylase, glucoamylase and glucose isomerase. Fructose is much sweeter than the refined table sugar. Refined table sugar contains 99% sucrose – a disaccharide made from fructose and glucose. Moreover, fructose is directly absorbed into your bloodstream, unlike sucrose which must be metabolized. 

Since the body cannot cope with the sustained and sudden rush of fructose, you can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity & weight gain. Corn syrup and sugary snacks provide your body with a cheap energy rush, have no nutritious value and increase your appetite after the sugar crash. 

Instead of dealing with the hassles of sugary snacks, opt-in for this sugar-free option instead.

Edamame is high in protein, may lower total cholesterol, blood pressure and rich in vitamins particularly folate and Vitamin K1. This snack will keep you fuller for longer and is a perfect source of protein for vegans & vegetarians!

High-fructose diets in animal studies (e.g. 8 week and 16-week rat experiments) have been observed to cause fat accumulation, inflammation and death of cells in the liver as well as weight gain.

4. Synthetic flavour

Watch out for words on the package like synthetic or artificial flavouring! Artificial flavours are commonly found in candy, cereal, gum, chips and fruit juices. That bottled orange juice in your fridge may be doing you more harm than you think and you’ll soon find out why. 

We recommend that you swap out those artificial flavoured food with our Bare Secrets strawberry bar. This snack is a delicious sweet treat that contains natural strawberry flavour, beetroot powder and Vitamin E. There’s no artificial flavour and colour!

Artificial flavours can cause short term side effects such as headaches, nausea and confusion. 

However, the worst part are the long-term side effects from the intake of artificial flavours which range from seizures, kidney and liver damage, thyroid issues. These artificial flavours have 

More specifically…..

Grape, plum and orange flavourings prevented cell functions and induced a toxic effect to bone marrow cells in mice. 

Chocolate, strawberry and cookie artificial flavourings stopped the formation of important components in the blood which caused the death of mice after the six-day experiment. 

Moreover, artificial flavours have no nutritional benefit. Instead of gaining radical scavenger and the immunity boost from Vitamin C, you will be consuming an orange flavour that can damage your mind and cause other damage.

5. Salt

Salty snacks such potato chips, sliced ham and cheese are common snack choices, especially after exercise or while watching a movie. A much more healthier alternative would be DJ&A Vege Chips that are perfect for travel and to consume on the go. Beetroot is rich in Vitamin C, B6, magnesium, calcium and iron. 

In moderation, salt is an electrolyte that helps with water retention, muscle function and nerve signals. 

The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends a daily sodium intake of up to 920 mg. It may seem like a lot, right? Unfortunately, our salt content accumulates throughout the day. Since salt content in packaged foods are usually shown per serve and 100 g, then we can’t really tell how much salt we consume throughout the day. 

Ever wondered why you crave salt after exercise? It’s actually a result of the loss of water and salt in our sweat from that workout!

However, excessive salt consumption can cause bloating, excessive thirst and increase in weight gain. More significantly, high salt intake can drastically increase our blood pressure and make you more vulnerable to obesity, heart conditions, dementia and stroke. 

Tip: See the salt content in the nutritional panel and calculate how much is in the total package. Then, control the portion of the food to avoid excessive salt intake or substitute with a better option. 

In the end…..

So, these are the top 5 ingredients that you must look out for before you choose a snack! They can damage your health and inhibit your quality of life. There’s no harm in implementing the little tips and tricks from above so why not try and give it a go? 

Other high-risk ingredients (that may be covered in the future) include:

  • increased risk of diabetes associated with maltodextrin
  • Ulcer-causing and cancerous carrageenan
  • Carcinogenic sodium benzoate and nitrate

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