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The Price of Convenience: The Dangers of Packaged and Processed Foods

By HealthLife Contributor
Updated: December 10, 2008
The human body has one general purpose: to take in nutrients and change them into energy. The more we ask our bodies to do, the more energy it requires in order to do it. In today's hectic and fast-paced world, our bodies need an ever-increasing amount of nutrients and energy to make it through the day.

Most people today do not have the time to plan and cook a nutritional meal and instead are comfortable relying on packaged or processed foods as an alternative. Unfortunately, processed and packaged foods, including some that are considered "healthy", contain a variety of dangerous substances that are more harmful to our bodies than they are beneficial.

If you have to resort to eating processed and packaged foods, here are four ingredients to look out for on food labels:

Artificial Dyes and Colors

At one point or another, everyone has heard the story of red M&M's being blamed for causing cancer. Though most people agree that this is nothing more than an urban legend, there is an air of truth associated with the dangers of artificial dyes. Synthetic dyes and colors have no known nutritional value, and over the years many have been banned after experts have determined that they had carcinogenic properties. Artificial food coloring is used mostly in food aimed at young children, especially in cereals, ice cream, fruit drinks, and even medicines. Today, artificial dyes are being looked at as the cause of everything from allergies to Autism. The best option for parents is to carefully select food that either contain no dyes, or are made with no artificial dyes.
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High-Fructose Corn Syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is an affordable way for food manufacturers to sweeten their products. Besides its cost-effectiveness, high-fructose corn syrup tastes sweeter, and as a result often makes its way into foods that are popular with young people.

Unfortunately, high-fructose corn syrup has a negative effect on the body's metabolism, liver function, insulin production, and has even been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. Foods, including some that are considered "healthier" alternatives, are often full of high-fructose corn syrup. The next time you plan a backyard barbecue, consider making room for one more guest, as this artificial sweetener is found in everything from hamburger buns and frozen burger patties, to beer, ketchup, and soft drinks.

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