You might not be surprised to see water at the top of the list of ingredients in soups. After all, soup does require a lot of water. It’s more surprising to find it so prominent in prepared foods such as packaged sauces, condiments, frozen meals, and more. And when water is first on the list of ingredients, that’s a clue that there’s a long list of other stuff to give that water some taste and texture. Many salad dressings contain more water than anything else, for example, and since oil and water don’t mix, it’s typically additives (which you may want to avoid) that hold everything together.
“Often when a food like a condiment lists the first ingredient as water, it is your clue that it may not be as wholesome and may be loaded with additives like MSG, polysorbate, and artificial colors,” explain Nutrition Twins Lyssie Lakatos, RD, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, authors of , The Secret to Skinny. “Additionally, it contains very little nutrients and often is our clue that we’d be better off selecting another product or making the food from scratch ourselves.” The two continue, “Gelatin, soft drinks, juices, salad dressings, mayo all can contain water first.” Harmful chemicals like sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate, preservatives that, when combined with vitamin C —ascorbic acid— form a known carcinogen called benzene may also be present. Other yucky sidekicks that may accompany water when it’s the primo ingredient? “Artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, which contain benzidene, also a known carcinogen,” add the authors. And remember, these types of foods commonly contain a lot of added sugar and fat that can wreak havoc on your taste buds — and waist line.
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