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What’s hiding in your dressing?

Imane Ryan

As summer starts coming into full blaze, so does the season of outdoor cooking and barbeques. Gathering with family members and eating an assortment of delicious meals covered in an array of delectable sauces is a sure-fire way to put anyone in a good mood. However, what is lurking in the small print of the ingredients list on the back of the bottle may surprise, and even frighten, you. We have put together a list of ingredients you should keep an eye out for, some of which are just unhealthy and others of which are downright sinister.

1. MSG

                Most of us have heard of MSG, or monosodium glutamate, even if we are not sure what it is. MSG is a popular food additive that enhances the savory flavor of meats. It is commonly associated with different types of Asian cuisine as it originated in Japan in 1908. There is a heated ongoing debate as to whether there are any significant health effects, but as a rule of thumb, if there is a debate about the safety of a food item, it should probably be avoided. These days, however, though many companies use MSG, it is disguised as a different name on the label. Some of its common alternatives are hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast and soy extract. If any of these are listed, there’s a good chance that it contains MSG or some form of it, so drop the bottle and back away slowly.

    2. Trans-fat

                Trans-fat is one of those taboo words that have become very prevalent in the past decade or so. Marketers advertise proudly the fact that their product has “0 trans-fat,” though the truth of the statement may be slightly misleading. Trans-fat originates naturally in some animal protein, but most often is a product of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil--as if the overabundance of oil wasn’t enough. Trans-fat adds an appealing taste and texture to food and is therefore found in many types of foods. Studies have shown that consumption of this additive dramatically increases your chance of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Keep an eye on the label and avoid this additive at all costs. Your heart will thank you.

    3. GMO

                  Genetically modified organisms, or GMO, refers to an organism, or in this case food, that has been genetically altered to be more efficient. The changes are made to the DNA of the organism for a variety of reasons, but most commonly to improve attributes like the growth, the amount of fruit harvested off one plant, the environmental factors, etc. The problem is that because the organism has been altered, there is no way to tell what effect it will have on us as humans. So will the corn growing on the stalk come alive and try and eat you? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous. This is also slightly tricky to spot on the label, but usually if “organic” or “non-GMO” are listed on the label, you are in good hands.
      This is just a small list of things that we as consumers should endeavor to pay attention to when evaluating what we eat. A good thing to remember is the shorter the list of ingredients and the easier to decipher what the ingredients are, the healthier the product. If you feel slightly overwhelmed, don’t worry. There are numerous healthy and tasty salad dressings and sauces that don’t contain any of the aforementioned ingredients, and some of the best can be found on our page.

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      1 comment

      • Absolutely love your cilantro lime dressing! A co-worker brought in a bottle and now I’m hooked!
        But just to clarify, theres nothing inherently dangerous about eating GMO’s. The only really issue is when organisms are modified to be tolerant to stronger pesticides, which are toxic to us. Don’t be afraid of GMO’s! They’re already making the world a better place.


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