You read food labels, I’m sure, and as a general rule you know to avoid sodium nitrites, artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes.
But food companies are still putting dangerous additives in the products they sell you... and you need to be better informed.
It’s loaded with everything you need to know about additives. For example:
1. What’s safe.
2. What you should cut back on.
3. What you should be cautious about.
4. What certain people should avoid.
5. What to stay away from completely.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet on dangerous additives that food companies are still using. These additives are unsafe in certain amounts consumed or very poorly tested and not worth the risk. Some of these are banned in other countries, but not the United States:
Here’s more detail on each of the harmful additives. But for the complete picture, you should download the guide to food additives from Nutrition Action.com and the Center for Science in the Public’s Interest... or get the App!
Acesulfame Potassium: This artificial sweetener, often used with sucralose and aspartame, has not been adequately tested and has been found to cause cancer in animals.
Aloe Vera: I know many will disagree with me on this one, but aloe vera can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea. It’s found in beverages, food and flavorings and has been found to cause cancer intestinal cancers in rats. Use in skin-care products appears to be okay.
Artificial Colorings: Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6. May cause tumors and/or cancer. Yellow 5 has been found to cause allergic reactions and spike hyperactivity in some children.
Aspartame: Many of us consume this artificial sweetener in diet foods everyday. Also known as Equal and NutraSweet, this additive has been shown to cause cancer in rats, as well as headaches and dizziness in humans… me included.
Brominated Vegetable Oil: This was a new one for me. BVO keeps flavor oils in suspension, giving a cloudy appearance to citrus-flavored soft drinks like Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange and Gatorade. Tests have shown that BVO leaves residues in body fat as well as fat in the brain, liver and other organs. This additive is banned in Europe.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole: You’ll find BHA in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips and vegetable oil because it slows rancidity in fats, oils and oil in food. The U.S. Department of Healthy and Human Serves says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet food companies are allowed to keep using it.
Caramel Coloring: Caramel coloring is used to simulate the appearance of cocoa in baked goods, make meats and gravies look more attractive and darken soft drinks and beer. It is usually made by heating sugar (usually high-dextrose corn syrup) with ammonia or other chemicals. Caramel coloring is potentially carcinogenic to humans.
Cyclamates: This artificial sweetener has been banned in the U.S. since 1970 because it increases the potency of carcinogens.
Ginko Biloba: This herb has been around for a long time (centuries!) and has been used in traditional healing. It supposedly boosts memory, but it has been shown to interfere with blood clotting.
Inter-esterified Vegetable Oil (also know as Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil or Trans Fat): This is a fat found in oil shortening, stick margarine, crackers, fried restaurant food, baked goods... the list goes on and on. High consumption of trans fat has been linked to obesity, heart attacks and strokes.
Mycoprotein: You see the word “protein” and you think, “This must be a good thing.” Wrong. This is a meat substitute made from processed mold not mushrooms, as the manufacturer has implied in ads and labeling. This additive can cause severe and even allergic reactions. It’s made by Marlow Foods under the Quorn brand label.
Olestra (also known as Olean): A fat substitute that is often found in “Light” potato chips and snacks. It’s a synthetic fat, but it can cause diarrhea, cramps and other stomach disorders.
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (also know as Inter-esterified Vegetable Oil or Trans Fat): Similar to Inter-esterified Vegetable Oil above. This is a fat found in ready-to-bake biscuits, oil shortening, stick margarine, crackers, fried restaurant food… and Americans eat a lot of it. Linked to obesity, heart attacks and strokes.
Potassium Bromate: This additive is a “flour improver”; it increases the volume of bread to produce bread with a fine crumb. Bromate is banned almost worldwide (except in the U.S. and Japan) because it causes cancer in animals.
Propyl Gallate: This preservative, found in vegetable oil, meat products, chewing gum and chicken soup base, and might cause cancer. It slows the spoilage of fats and oils and is often used with BHA and BHT.
Saccharin: The food industry’s go-to artificial sweetener, especially in diet soft drinks, no-sugar added products and sweetener packets (Sweet ‘N Low). This additive has been shown to cause cancer (especially bladder cancer) and increases the potency of certain cancer-causing chemicals.
Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite: Bacon’s best friend, this preservative stabilizes the red color in cured meats like ham, frankfurters and lunch meat. Adding nitrite to food can lead to the formation of potent cancer-causing chemicals in the food.
TBHQ (Tert-Butylhdroquinone): A preservative that prevents rancidity in vegetable oil, snack foods, cereals and other fat containing food. This additive has been shown to increase tumors in lab rats.
Factory-made foods with chemical additives are part of our lives now, but we should try to understand the safety ratings of these ingredients. Remember, knowledge is power... especially when it comes to what we eat.
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