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An Explanation of Confusing Ingredients

By Sara Butler

You're always encouraged to read ingredients labels on the foods you buy, but sometimes it can feel as if you need a degree in chemistry to understand what all the ingredients are. Yes, some food ingredients are confusing, but understanding what they are once and for all isn't that difficult. Here are some of the most confusing food ingredients explained.


Sucrose is a fancy name for sugar. It's one of a myriad of ways that sugar is listed in foods. You may also see it as:

  • Fructose
  • Maltose
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose

Basically, anything that ends in -ose is sugar.

You find this ingredient in a lot of highly refined and processed foods such as drinks, baked goods, canned foods, frozen meals, and candy. When found in these foods they are called added sugars, not naturally occurring ones, so you need to limit your intake of them overall.


This is an artificial sweetener that is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar. It doesn't have any calories, but that doesn't mean it's something you should include in your diet. Some people experience headaches when they have aspartame while some people develop allergies to it. There may even be a link to certain types of cancers.

It is found in diet drinks, some multivitamins, and chewing gum. Look for it on labels and try to limit your intake of it.

Artificial Flavors

You see this ingredient on a lot of packaged foods. Artificial flavors are simply additives that are created in a lab. They add no nutritional value to food, only flavoring. The FDA states that companies put this on labels if they add flavorings that don't come from a plant or animal to add flavor. They're not necessarily bad for you, but they also are mostly found in foods such as bread and cereal that you probably want to limit in your diet anyway.

Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated oils aren't bad for your health in their natural state, but the manufacturing process they go through makes them decidedly bad for you. In the manufacturing process, oils such as corn, palm, canola, coconut, and soybean are heated, turning them into preservatives -- and trans fats. Trans fats are terrible for your heart and are linked to certain types of cancers such as colon and breast cancer.

Technically, food companies were supposed to remove trans fats from the foods they produce by June 2018 but you may still find hydrogenated oils in certain foods and those need to be avoided for your health.

It's important to know what these ingredients are so you can avoid them! If you have questions about ingredients in food, then the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic are the right people to ask.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Madison, Wis.

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