Steer clear of these six ingredients. They might just be what’s holding you back from reaching your goals.

You’re trying to eat healthy, so you know that eating a candy bar for lunch isn’t the best idea. But, the “healthy” foods that you are eating, could be disguising sugar, salt, and fat by other names. Get to know the common names that food industries use so you can make informed decisions and better your health.

1. Artificial sweeteners

Low-sugar or sugar-free products are not always healthy because they often contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin. You want to avoid these ingredients! They can be found in even the most typical “diet” foods. In very small amounts, they appear to be okay and are a great option for those with diabetes. But in high amounts, they can cause GI distress, as well as weight gain.

2. Sugar

According to EatingWell.com, Americans eat an additional 475 calories due to added sugars. This is almost three times more than the amount the American Heart Association recommends. Food companies try to hide sugar by breaking it up into different sources so it doesn’t appear as the first item. For example, a product might have honey, sugar, fructose, and sucrose.

3. BHT: Butylated hydroxytoluene

Generally, if you don’t know how to pronounce the ingredient, it’s best not to eat it. BHT is a lab-made chemical that’s added to foods and medicines as a preservative because it’s an antioxidant. Some claim that small amounts of it isn’t harmful, but consuming large amounts can be. To avoid consuming too much, aim to eat more whole foods and keep processed foods to a minimum.

4. Salt

Maybe you’ve stopped adding a few shakes of salt to every meal, but there’s more salt hiding in your food than you think. For example, ingredients like MSG (monosodium glutamate) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) add to your total salt/sodium consumption. It’s recommended to keep your daily intake under 2400 mg, preferably less. Remember, even things that don’t taste salty can have high amounts of sodium. Try to go easy on the condiments, premade sauces, canned foods, and frozen meals.

5. Sodium Nitrate

This is a preservative found in processed meats such as bacon, lunch meats, hot dogs, sausage, and jerky. While the effects are still being researched, sodium nitrate has been known to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

6. Partially-hydrogenated oil

Another fancy term for trans fats. Even though the nutrition label might say 0 trans fats, it can still contain up to half a gram. Studies have shown that trans fat is linked to heart disease and insulin resistance. Processed snacks and fried foods are the worst offenders.

Don’t let these sneaky ingredients keep you from reaching your goals and living a healthy lifestyle! Share with us your favorite tips to avoiding these pesky ingredients.

Hannah Mann