As I pulled open the wrapper for an essential part of my movie-going experience i.e. the Almond Magnum ice-cream, the whiff of chemicals that went up to my nose almost made me vomit. Surprised that my innocuous ice-cream smelt like a chemical lab, I investigated the ingredients that made this marvel – they induced a second vomiting episode.
Ever since I read The Wild Diet by Abel James I have started an inquisition into the foods I regularly consumed. What I have found out is nothing less than startling. The more I read into I regularly eat, the less I have been eating of them. The “empty calories” consumption has been replaced with nutrient-dense foods and has led to remarkable improvement in my energy, metabolism, attention span and (most importantly) my waistline. However, I did not expect the Magnum bar to disappoint me as it just has
Here is the list of ingredients in an Almond Magnum Bar from their website:
On first look, many of these ingredients look harmless. However, when I started researching each item I realised how creative writing has made the dangerous look harmless.
Take for example the “permitted natural colour (beta-carotene)”. WebMD explains that Beta-carotene is one of a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids provide approximately 50% of the vitamin A needed in the American diet. Beta-carotene can be found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It can also be made in a laboratory.
The explanation taken at face value made it appear that beta-carotene was good for health. However, there is a catch. The beta-carotene in this ice-cream bar was used to make the almonds appear redder than they are therefore this beta-carotene was lab produced and did not occur “naturally”. So, what are the side-effects of this lab produced supplement?
There is growing concern that taking high doses of antioxidant supplements such as beta-carotene might do more harm than good. Some research shows that taking high doses of beta-carotene supplements might increase the chance of death from all causes, increase the risk of certain cancers, and possibly other serious side effects. In addition, there is also concern that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate beta-carotene supplement increases the chance of developing advanced prostate cancer in men.
And if you are a smoker you should be reading this:
In people who smoke, beta-carotene supplements might increase the risk of colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Don’t take beta-carotene supplements if you smoke.
All this just from the colouring used to make the almonds look better!
To go through all the other ingredients in detail would take up 3-4 pages so I made this table explaining the ingredients in that single stick of ice-cream.
|Ingredient||What is it made of?||Side effects||Source|
|Vanillin||A petrochemical i.e. phenolic aldehyde, which is an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3||Allergic reactions, digestive disorders and migraine headaches|
|E322 – Lecithin||Lecithin is a fat that is essential in the cells of the body. It can be found in many foods, including soybeans and egg yolks||Lecithin is LIKELY SAFE for most people. It can cause some side effects including diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain, or fullness.|
|E471 – Monoglycerides & Diglycerides||Monoglycerides and diglycerides are food additives commonly used to combine ingredients containing fats with those containing water, two types of ingredients that don’t ordinarily combine well.||They are similar to triglycerides, the predominant fat in food according to the Harvard School of Public Health, except they are classified as emulsifiers rather than lipids|
|E410 – Locust Bean Gum (Carob Gum)||Locust bean gum is a galactomannan vegetable gum extracted from the seeds of the carob tree, mostly found in the Mediterranean region.
It is a thickening agent and a gelling agent used in food technology
|Carob is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in food amounts or as a medicine. There don’t seem to be any unwanted side effects.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking carob if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use in greater than food amounts.
|E407 – Carrageenan||Carrageenan is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, which is popularly known as Irish moss.||
|E412 – Guar Gum||Guar gum comes from the seeds of the guar or cluster bean plant. About 20 per cent to 40 per cent of the guar seed consists of galactomannan gum, which forms a thick gel when mixed with water||Guar gum is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth with at least 8 ounces of liquid. The water is important because it reduces the chance of choking or developing a blockage in the intestine.
Side effects include increased gas production, diarrhoea, and loose stools. These side effects usually decrease or disappear after several days of use. High doses of guar gum or not drinking enough fluid with the dose of guar gum can cause blockage of the oesophagus and the intestines.
In a nutshell, my ice-cream included petrochemicals, thickening agents, seaweed extracts and so many things that I shouldn’t be in an ice-cream. I couldn’t bring it upon myself to put that chemical experiment in my mouth, so I threw it away. I suggest you do too.