French consumer magazine 60 millions de consommateurs (60 Million Consumers)has published a list of the ten everyday foods the public should avoid and for most people it's unlikely to make happy reading.
The magazine's special issue on “toxic foods” largely includes ultra-processed foods which are low in nutrients and high in sugars, fat and additives, which account for 25 to 50 percent of calorie intake in developed countries.
These are the foods you should be cutting out of your diet according to 60 Million Consumers and why.
Why is it bad? High sugar content
The consumer magazine warns that 70 percent of the sugar content in everyone's favourite burger dressing is disguised with complicated names, such as fructose, dextrose and maltodextrin.
Added to that is the fact that many people would not expect to find a high sugar content in ketchup which to most is a salted product.
However, ketchup can contain up to 22 grams of sugar per 100 grams or about three pieces of sugar per serving.
2. Dried noodles
Why are they bad? The amount of additives.
Despite the fact that some instant noodle brands boast a recipe rich in pickled vegetables, for many this accounts for less than one percent of the ingredients.
It is then a multitude of additives that are used to give a particular texture and taste to the recipe (some of which are part of the list of additives that should be banned, according to 60 million consumers).
3. Sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free products
Why are they bad? Low quality compared to conventional products
Many products labeled “low fat”, “low sugar” or “gluten-free”, which are increasingly visible on French supermarket shelves, are high in additives or other unhealthy ingredients to make up for the loss.
For example, products with low sugar content are high in fat and those low in salt contain more sugar.
When choosing these products, make sure that the lack of one ingredient has not led the increase of another and remember that gluten-free products must bear the official logo of the French Association of Gluten Intolerance (AFDIAG).
4. “Diet” fizzy drinks and sodas
Why are they bad? High in additives
While they are marketed as the healthier choice by manufacturers, with packaging boasting the fact that they contain “zero sugar”, “diet” fizzy drinks and sodas often contain additives which are dangerous for your health, according to 60 million consumers.
The magazine says that the sweeteners added to the drink to improve the flavour could lead to a sugar addiction.
One of the additives which is used, E150d is carcinogenic and some studies say that others such as acesulfame and aspartame should also be avoided.
5. Processed vegetarian/vegan food products
Why are they bad? High in additives.
Many see the choice to go vegan or vegetarian as the healthy option but if you're among them be careful to check the packaging of the food products you buy.
This is particularly true of products that look like meat products for example veggie burgers because additives, texturizers, flavors, fats, sugar and salt are used to make them look this way.
Some vegan products are composed of several ingredients that are useless to their basic composition, with the sole purpose of making them look like a classic product. In addition to additives, there are foods that increase the level of fat or salt.
Be sure to check the labels and choose products that do not have extended ingredient lists.
6. Fruit yoghurts
Why are they bad? High levels of additives.
Fruit yogurts sometimes contain up to 12 additives. In most cases, they are used to colour the product (E1), thicken it (E4) as acidity correctors (E5) or preservatives (E2).
According to the law, additives are banned in yoghurts. Those present in the fruit recipes are added through the preparations outside the dairy itself. It is therefore preferable to buy natural yogurts and add your own fruit pieces or a spoonful of homemade jam.
7. Stock cubes
Why are they bad? High levels of salt
Bouillon stock cubes are an indispensable for many people when they cook a French stew.
And while 80 percent of the salt consumed by French people comes from processed foods, according to 60 million de consommateurs, a bouillon cube is a bit like putting a drop of processed food in your own recipe.
In general, a half-cube of stock would cover 20 percent of the maximum recommended by WHO.
They also include additives (monosodium glutamate and guanylate, and disodium inosinate) that increase the salty flavour, monosodium glutamate making the consumer mag's list of additives that should be banned.
When reading the labels be careful of flavor enhancing additives (E6 ..) and also check the amount of sugar the cubes contain.
And if in doubt, use table salt so you know exactly how much is going in there.
8. Some breakfast cereals…and other morning foods
Why are they bad? High fat content
While many boxed breakfast cereals are known for being high in sugar, they also contain too much fat. And the same goes for cereal bars.
Sliced bread also comes with its own set of problems and shockingly just one slice can be up to 50 percent more salty than a 25g packet of crisps, according to the magazine.
As a result, the public are advised to limit the consumption of products dedicated to breakfast and as always pay close atention to carbohydrates and fats in the table of nutritional values.
9. Cocoa powder
Why is it bad? High sugar content
Boxes of cocoa powder often claim that the product provides a full balanced breakfast, especially for children. These chocolate powders, however, often contain huge amounts of sugar (up to 90 percent for some recipes), leaving little room for cocoa itself.
When looking at the packaging, a useful tip is to pay attention to the order of ingredients in the list and whichever one is listed first makes up most of the recipe.
According to 60 million de consommateurs say that the maximum daily intake of added sugar recommended by WHO for an adult would be exceeded by drinking a 200ml bowl of cocoa powder.
Instead parents can use pure cocoa mixed with a natural sweet base and chocolate powders which don't use sugar as the main ingredient.
Why is it bad?
The better question might be, how is it good?
Processed pork foods which accounts for a large amount of charcuterie often contain synthetic nitrates or nitrites, which are on the consumer mag's list of ingredients that sould be banned.
In addition, their fat content is often too high with some brands using up to 45g of fat per 100g of product.
Here's the bad news for the many, many fans of charcuterie in France…most pork products contain nitrite and it's difficult to find alternatives. Still, at least now you know what you're dealing with.