Food Ingredients That Only Sound Scary

Natural-food advocates often say the best way to avoid unnatural eats is by steering clear of anything you can’t pronounce or that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize. But there are plenty of odd-sounding ingredients that actually do come from natural places. Here are five you’re likely to spot in many packaged foods:

* Carrageenan: The thickening agent is derived from seaweed to improve the texture of foods like jelly and cottage cheese.

* Citric acid: A natural preservative found in citrus fruits, it keeps foods like ice cream and fruit juice from oxidizing (going rancid).

* Inulin: A naturally occurring soluble fiber that’s sometimes added to dairy products, frozen desserts, and salad dressings.

* Lecithin: An emulsifier, which prevents ingredients from separating, found in baked goods, chocolate, and margarines (including non-hydrogenated varieties), it typically comes from soybeans and egg yolk.

* Oligofructose: A plant extract, commonly from chicory root, that’s used to sweeten cookies or granola bars with fewer calories than sugar.

Still worried about an ingredient you don’t recognize? Check out the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s additive database to learn more about it.

Is there anything not listed on a label? Yes, actually. Genetically modified (GM) ingredients aren’t required to be noted as such. You might see soy, canola, or corn listed on a label, and while any of those ingredients could be genetically modified, there’s no way to know for sure (unless the product also carries a GMO-free label from the Non-GMO Project). Learn more about the campaign to label GM foods at the KIWI College webinar on GMOs, with Robyn O’Brien and Nancy Hirshberg, on February 14.

Reprinted from KIWI Magazine