Food additives are added to foods regularly to enhance their flavor or shelf-life. Though they may make the food look prettier, they’re often not doing your body any good. Let’s take a look at four additives you should avoid.
The most common food additives today include artificial sweeteners, titanium dioxide, transfat, citric acid, nitrogen, sulfates and more. Food additives are everywhere and found in some of our most favorite foods. Though some aren’t bad for us — for example, thiamin mononitrate sounds scary but really is just a fancy name for vitamin B1, others are harmful, and we need to make sure we try and avoid them. Here are the top four food additives you should be on the lookout for.
Partially hydrogenated oil, or transfat
Fast foods and processed foods typically contain transfat. Even though it’s one of the most dangerous substances, the FDA still allows it. Food Matters states that consuming transfats regularly increases your risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and other heart-related issues. It can even be found in certain pie crusts, pastries, chips and margarines. If you find yourself with fast food as your only option, choose a salad with minimal dressing.
High fructose corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup is found in just about every processed food imaginable. It’s a leading cause of obesity, heart disease, cancer, tooth decay and more, according to Hungry for Change. Since it’s extremely high in calories, consuming even small amounts can be bad for your health. If you haven’t noticed just how much high fructose corn syrup you’re consuming, start by reading food labels and replacing processed foods with fresh fruits and veggies. You should notice a difference in how you feel immediately.
Typically, we don’t think of food dyes as bad for us, but they are. Most sodas, salad dressings, sports drinks and juices contain food dyes and have been linked to lower IQs. Again, Food Matters states that certain dyes cause chromosomal damage, thyroid cancer and tumors. Other foods you’ll want to avoid, or at least eat sparingly, include macaroni and cheese, ice cream and cherry pie filling.
Sodium nitrate is commonly used in processed meats — such as ham, bacon, hot dogs and lunch meats. It gives these meats their red color, making them look more appetizing, but is actually extremely toxic to the body. Sodium nitrate is a carcinogen that mostly affects the liver and pancreas, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). As of now, it’s still commonly used in meats because there is no alternative. We recommend limiting or avoiding these types of processed meats whenever possible.