Food additives and their associated health risks

June 8, 2008

If you can’t avoid processed (junk) food altogether, at least make a list of the the following bad guys so you can check labels and avoid them on future shopping trips.

Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrite
Found in: bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef.
Used to stabilize food color and add flavor. When grilled it transforms into a reactive compound that has been linked to cancer.

Found in: many foods such as cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils.
It prevents fats and oils from going rancid. For some people it can increase their cancer risk.

Propyl Gallate
Found in: meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum.
Also prevents fats and oils from spoiling. While not proven to cause cancer in humans, it is linked to cancer in animals.

Monosodium Glutamate
Found in: soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and restaurant food. The infamous MSG, associated with Asian food can cause headaches and nausea for some people. Try using a moderate amount of salt as a healthier alternative.

Trans Fats
Found in: numerous foods, fast food.
Too much trans fat has been proven to cause heart disease and other serious health conditions. Experts recommend consuming no more than 2 grams per day.

Found in: low-calorie desserts, gelatins, drink mixes, and soft drinks.
Studies have shown that lifelong consumption may increase risk of cancer or other neurological problems.

Found in: baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts.
Not proven to be unhealthy, but studies on this additive have been scant. If that concerns you, then you may want to avoid this sweetener.

Food Colorings: Blue 1, 2; Red 3; Green 3; Yellow 6
Found in: products too numerous to mention.
These colorings have been linked to cancer in animals, while Yellow 6 has been linked to bladder cancer in humans.

Found in: reduced fat snack chips.
Olestra blocks fat absorption but blocks vitamin absorption as well. It can also cause severe diarrhea, cramps and gas.

Potassium Bromate
Found in: white flour, breads, and rolls.
Most bromate breaks down into a harmless form, however, small amounts can create a risk for people. California requires a cancer warning on products with this ingredient.


Related articles: Hidden sources of MSG, The Dirty Dozen: 12 foods/food additives to avoid


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