In India, we have a long-standing tradition of consuming fast food. The chaat culture or the evolution of street food has created a variety of gastronomic creations. Traditional dishes from across the country have been adapted for the fast food setting, which means they might contain some unhealthy ingredients. These ingredients enhance the flavour and help feed a larger proportion of people. We have identified some of these harmful ingredients that you may want to stay away from, if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

Salt

Most of the salt we consume does not from a packet or salt-shaker, but instead from the processed foods we consume. These can be anything from canned vegetables, preserved meat, packet soups, soya sauce to burgers and fries. It is present naturally in beetroot and milk. Some bottled water may even contain sodium. Although, sodium is necessary for maintaining our body’s fluid balance, consuming too much of it can raise the blood volume. This phenomenon, in turn, can increase your blood pressure. The body needs only 1,500 milligrams of sodium, per day.

Refined Grains

Maida, wheat, rice, pasta and bread are more nutritious if they are eaten fresh. However, refined grains that have been kept in packets for a long time on the shelf — lose their nutritional value. These foods can increase your blood sugars, putting you at long-term risk for diabetes. They can also bew the cause for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance and obesity (particularly in the abdominal region).

Artificial Sweeteners

Sucralose and aspartame are ingredients that you may find in many processed and fast foods. People may think sweeteners are better for you than plain-old sugar. However, they cause more damage than you may think. They contain more calories and are more difficult to digest.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

This ingredient was commonly associated Chinese food as a flavour enhancer. MSG is used instead of salt in canned vegetables, packed soups and processed meats. It has gotten some attention from the media due to its side-effects, such as chest pain, nausea, weakness, headache, facial pressure, numbness, sweating and more.

Artificial Food Colouring

Almost all food colouring is known to be derived from coal tar, possibly contain arsenic and lead. Some types of yellow, red, blue and green colouring have been linked to cancers of the kidney, thyroid, adrenal gland, bladder and brain. If you are parent it may be best to feed your children natural-food products and colour-free foods/medicines.

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