The quantity and the variety of food additives that’s found in our food today are impressive. This includes food coloring, preservatives, anti-oxygen, emulsifying agents, thickening agents, gelling agents and stabilizers. While some of them are quite safe, like vitamin C added to prevent oxidation, some others have been linked to serious diseases. Among them here are the top 8 to avoid.
8 food additives to avoid
Call them NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet N Low, all of them can put your health at risk. Most artificial sweeteners contain aspartame, a carcinogenic substance known to induce migraines, headaches, dizziness and seizures. Other popular artificial sweeteners contain saccharin, a substance that could be linked to bladder cancer, or Acesulfame-K, which is linked to kidney tumors development. HFCS, while coming from corn, could be as unhealthy as other artificial sweeteners. HFCS has been linked to metabolic syndrome and could contain mercury.
Found in: Sugar-free and diet sodas, flavored gelatin desserts, gum, drink mixes, baked goods, cereals, mints, cookies, toothpaste and fruit drinks, etc.
2- Monosodium glutamate
Often labeled MSG, autolyzed yeast extract or even simply as spices, monosodium glutamate is probably the food additive that is the most difficult to avoid. Not only the variety of names can be confusing, this amino acid is added to almost any savory packaged foods. MSG is a substance called an excito-toxin. This substance disturbs the neurological pathways, messing-up with the satiety response and even causing brain cells to die.
Found in: Fast food, Chinese restaurant food, seasoning, canned soup, salad dressing, snack food, frozen dinner, lunchmeat, stock, sauces and bouillon, etc.
3- Propylene glycol
Propylene glycol is a viscous substance that is used to enhance texture in liquids. Known to be linked to cancer, it is still used as a carrier for flavors (often artificial) in an array of drinks and dressings.
Found in: candy coating, sodas, sports drinks, salad dressing, beer, cakes, icing, etc….
Oils that have been hydrogenated are transformed into trans fat, the kind of fat that leads to heart diseases, LDL (bad) cholesterol and cancer. Always check on the ingredient list, as it is still allowed by the law to label 0 trans fat even if it contains small amounts of it.
Found in: margarine, chips, crackers, baked goods, fast foods, etc.
5- Food dyes
Artificial colorings found in candies, fruit drinks and dressings, has been linked to developmental and behavioral problems in children as well as cancer development.
Found in: cheese, candies, sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, bakery, etc.
Used to preserve foods, sulfites are among major food allergens. Sulfites have been linked to asthma, and can lead to headaches, skin rashes and breathing problems in sensitive people.
Found in: wine, dried fruits, lunch and cured meats
7- Sodium nitrite/nitrate
Found mostly in processed meat, sodium nitrite and nitrate are used as a preservative. Several research have linked nitrate to cancer, but it’s still commonly used in food products.
Found in: cured meats, hot dogs, corned beef, bacon, ham, duck, lunch meats, smoke meat, etc.
8- BHA and BHT
Used to preserve the color and flavor in processed food, BHA and BHT are used in a variety of foods. Those substances can disturb the neurological system, alter behavior and cause cancer.
Found in: cereals, gum, chips, shortening, candy, etc.
More reading on the subject
- Wider safety issues remain unanswered by food coloring additives: Expert (news.bioscholar.com)
- FDA Mulls Safety of Artificial Food Coloring (children.webmd.com)
- Toxins you are exposed to everyday (lifewithnature.com)