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Today’s post continues the series on smart snacks and dishonest snacks: surprisingly unhealthy foods on the market. We’ve covered a lot in part i, part ii and part iii all of which you can read in your own time. Today’s post continues with the sneaky ingredients hiding in your snacks. Calling to the stand: modified ingredients.
Sneaky ingredients hiding in your snacks:
As already highlighted, there is no doubt that the consumer is better educated and aware of what healthy food looks like. However, food marketing is still that little bit smarter and even the ‘free from’ aisle isn’t safe. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ingredients you might spot on your favourite ‘gluten free’ or ‘vegan’ snack.
Brown Rice Syrup:
A more natural sugar alternative but still sugar. So if you see it high on the ingredient list, be careful. Plus don’t forget that rice contains arsenic due to how and where it is farmed. Low levels of arsenic can impact early immune and growth development. It’s why you see ‘rice mylk’ and other ‘mylk’ varieties state in small print “not suitable for children under 3” So it’s just good to be aware that you aren’t consuming more than you think with ingredients like this.
A key ingredient in chocolate that literally gives it that ‘melt in your mouth’ texture. There’s the natural type and there’s the deodorised version. What’s the difference? In its raw state, cacao butter is yellowish in colour and smells somewhat like chocolate. For certain production, this might not be ideal which is why cacao butter can get deodorised i.e. modified to reduce the smell and the dominant taste. This process involves excessive heat, chemical solvents and bleaching to achieve an odourless and aroma-less product. One common use for deodorised cacoa butter is in soap but it can be used in certain food products too for example if it interferes with the flavour and aroma of the cocoa mass. This process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but in all cases it involves refining the product.
Refined or Deodorised Coconut Oil:
Deodorised coconut oil is made by first drying coconuts in the sun before bringing them to the plant where they are pressed, refined, bleached and deodorized. It is a cheap process as enormous volumes can be produced without the health factors given any consideration. Raw cold pressed oils are made from fresh coconuts being ground down and dried at low temperature to preserve all the goodness and not tamper with the fats that it contains. Just like with cacao butter, this involves refining the product which puts any nutrition at risk.
Lecithin is a processed food additive that helps things stick together i.e. it’s an emulsifier. It was originally isolated from egg yolk but today it’s extracted from cottonseed, marine sources, milk, rapeseed, soybeans and sunflower. Soy lecithin is obviously derived from soy. Not only does the issue of GMO soy come to top of mind but consuming lecithin is also associated with bloating, diarrhea, mild skin rashes, nausea and stomach pain.
Everyone is loving protein powder these days. It’s probably the most popular supplement on the market with many different types and flavours available. Protein powders, however, are highly processed and often heated making the proteins denatured. Protein powders also often come with added preservatives, GMOs and allergens like dairy and soy. Remember that supplements are not regulated so really companies can put whatever they want in there. Rather than buy powder, why not get your protein from real plant based food! Here’s just a few examples:
- One cup lentils – 18 grams
- 1 oz. cashews – 4.4 grams
- One cup quinoa – 9 grams.
- One avocado – 10 grams
- 1 cup broccoli – 5 grams
- 1 cup spinach – 5 grams
At iRaw we only use natural ingredients. Not only are our rawl ups nut-free, they also boast 8g of protein per bag! Check out the three flavours: Green Superfood, Spicy Chocolate, Creamy Caramel.
This is basically modified corn. Other sources of modified starch can include potato, tapioca, rice, wheat. There are various ways to modify it including treating with acid, roasting, or with other chemicals. Why do it? It helps with texture and consistency, can serve as a fat substitute for low-fat products, act as a thickener and extend shelf life.
A relatively new ingredient on that market, inulin is a soluble plant fiber that’s present in high amounts in the chicory plant. You will spot it listed as an ingredient on a lot of protein bars today, mainly because it bumps up the fibre content. While it has its benefits, be aware that inulin is considered a FODMAP, a class of carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented in the colon and can produce gas and digestive issues for some people. So some people don’t do well eating this in high amounts.
How do I know if these modified ingredients are in my food?
Any product that is certified Organic would not contain these ingredients. However, the non-organic brands don’t need to state if their ingredients are altered. This applies too to products where some ingredients are organic and others are not. The best way is to ask! Send the company an email and get clarification. iRaw strives to use only functional ingredients in their natural form and therefore none of our products contain any of the above.
So consumer beware: not everything is what it seems. For more on this topic, check out our other posts:
- 100 kcal snacks full of nutrition
- Smart Snacks Part 2: Facelifts, zero waste and sustainability.
- Honest Snacks or Not so Honest: Fruit & Nut