12 of The Most Harmful Food Additives to Avoid

I wish it were a simple world where food was made up of the simple ingredients we think they can be and should be, but unfortunately that just isn’t the case, especially for the typical western diet, but this is even the case in other parts of the world now too.

One of the things I have learned about buying organic is that the USDA organic symbol comes in a variety of flavors but the one that we typically see is the half white on top and half green on the bottom organic symbol. What many may not know is that this means the product is guaranteed to be 95% organic, not 100%.

And while most manufacturers do there best to only use the quality ingredients there customers expect from them, it isn’t always the case.  Needless to say, foods that don’t bare the organic seal, be it the QAI otherwise known as quality assurance international, or the USDA organic symbol, are doubtless going to have all manner of nasty and harmful food additives to avoid.

The most important thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your other loved ones is to encourage them to truly read the labels of the products they buy and become educated. Yes, it can be monotonous and time consuming, but we all tend to buy the same products over and over again, so once we familiarize ourselves with the superior organic products we want to consume which don’t contain these additives, the more quickly we can go about our grocery shopping going forward. Vote with your dollars, it really works! So let’s go down the list of these nasty additives you need to ditch altogether:

1.  Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

I first discovered this by reading the nutrition labels of 99% of the typical take out Chinese food so much have or continue to eat. MSG is a very commonly used flavor enhancer often found in soups, various salad dressings, many brands of chips as well as premade and packaged frozen foods. What I found out was that folks who are sensitive to this compound, can have cells that get overexcited, producing uncomfortable symptoms for the body. There is a growing body of evidence that has shown a correlation between consuming too much food containing MSG and harmful medical conditions such as depression, various types of disorientation, optical damage, exhaustion, bad headaches, and of course, obesity.

2. Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame/Saccharine/Mannitol)

Ya ok, they can indeed allow you to indulge in a sweet drink without the extra calories, but I have found they are also filled with nasty chemicals that can be quite harmful to your body, which is why I cut these out of my life completely. Nearly every one of these “sugar alternatives” contain the chemical Aspartame.

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the likely potential that regular consumption of Aspartame can be associated with a great many health issues like brain tumors, diabetes, lymphoma cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue which I have discovered are often related and found together, and various emotional disorders like severe depression and different types of anxiety, um no thanks.

This crap has also been linked to other nastiness including but not limited to: dizziness, chronic headaches, nausea, mental fog, seizures, and it can even bless you with short-term memory loss and intelligence reduction, wow. The FDA’s official position? This stuff is A-OK in there book. Seriously, take your health into your own hands, and don’t leave it solely to the government.

3. BHA And BHT

This one was a real eye opener for me on my own personal health journey. So many of us don’t even consider why our food doesn’t spoil, change color, lose flavor, or degrade much at all over time, well you can thank BHA and BHT for that one, unfortunately its not a win-win here. There has been mounting evidence that this stuff can lead to a variety of cancers. Remember, eventually most man made food additives over time are proven to be harmful one way or another, why chance it?

The FDA which has had a spotty track record as of late, states that BHA and BHT are perfectly safe for human consumption, I also found another study published by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) that equated them with Vitamin E! Glad to see paid establishment scientists are on our side eh? You can find this chunk from cereal to gum and everything in between, yum!

4. Trans Fat

Ah yes, one of my favorites, so to speak. This is a wonderful artificial fat substance known as trans fat, an additive that has actually been heavily regulated in many parts of Europe (but not all) and many other modern western countries of the world, but not the good ol’ US of A, with the exception of California which has courageously banned it from being used by restaurants and bakeries (however, it can still be found in stores and places like the supermarket). This substance does occur naturally in some animal products, but please keep in mind dear readers, that the levels are immensely low, AND the stuff we I am talking about? Is of course, synthetically made in a lab, which we all know is a bastion of nutritional health.

This crap is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils used for cooking and is primarily intended to extend processed foods shelf life, delicious.  By the way eating trans fats, even according to the FDAraises LDL (bad cholesterol).  It’s pretty bad when even the FDA admits one of there approved additives is bad for you. high levels of LDL increases the odds of developing  high blood pressure which can in turn potentially result in a heart attack, stroke, diabetes and heart disease in general. Stay away from it folks.

5. Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite

Sodium Nitrate is a naturally occurring substance and Sodium nitrite is it’s synthetically created cousin. Both of these compounds are commonly used to preserve most of our meat products in place of what used to be the old fashioned standard, common salt.

Both of these substances are nitrosamines, and I have found studies which have actually shown that when any of us consume this stuff in large amounts over time we can damage our DNA, which can in turn lead to different types of cancers. They also have been shown to increase the likelihood for developing various pulmonary diseases. I only buy organic meats at this point, preferably unprocessed cuts as well, I advise you do the same if you eat meat.

6. Artificial Food Coloring (specifically Blue 1, 2, Red 3, Green 3, Yellow 6)

This was another one that growing up I never even considered, I just accepted that my “food” if we can even call it now, could have all sorts of wacky colors, and that it was generally safe of course, because if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be in the food supply right? Wrong! The FDA studies that I have found which explored the effect that artificial dyes can have on childrens behavior were apparently inconclusive, which of course prompted more studies to be done.

Many on the leading edge of new health science have basically stated that food dye is likely to be a contributing cause for thyroid cancer, kidney and adrenal tumors, and chromosome deterioration. There are organic food coloring’s which are perfectly safe, so read your labels, and always buy organic whenever possible.

7. Sodium Sulfite

Like yourself a nice glass of wine? I avoided all types of alcohol early on in life for many of the obvious reasons and I have never looked back. However, wine is often promoted as a health beverage when taken in moderate consumption because of the naturally occurring polyphenols found more commonly in rd varieties of wine.

That’s true, but you can get that stuff from just drinking fruit juice too, so it’s hardly a good excuse. To make things worse, wine has sodium sulfite in it which is used in the creation of wine and can also be found in dried fruit.  I found one study that concluded sodium sulfite can induce cell degranulation and oxidative stress, I think I’ll pass.

8. Sulfur Dioxide

So this was something I had always heard about but didn’t quite understand. This is apparently a really toxic additive that is commonly added to beer, so take note you beer lovers, and various dried fruits like apricots for example. But it’s also used with chips  and sodas (which seem to always have a wonderful mixture of nasty additives, many of which I have already listed here).

So here’s the deal, I was not able to find any conclusive studies done, but I can tell you from personal experience that I never felt 100% when I ate anything with sulfur dioxide and avoiding it has been my personal policy ever since. The reason folks avoid this crap is because as a gas, breathing in too much can cause a whole slew of lung issues including conjuctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, and potentially even cardiovascular disease. I don’t want to take my chances, do you?

9. High-Fructose Corn Syrup

This additive probably doesn’t even need an introduction anymore as it has become the poster child for dangerous food additives. This nasty GMO corn derived sweetener is found in nearly every type of processed food, even ones we don’t inherently think of as being or needing to be sweet. This was one of the first things I truly woke up to when it comes to my personal health, and was the primary reason I gave up soda as a teenager. This stuff has become the number one source of calories in america!

Recent information has even come to light about HFCS having detectable levels of mercury in it, which is one of the the most toxic substances known to man, and the FDA has known for years and has been ok with it! This stuff is so evil that it deserves its own article, but Princeton researchers have found that it also makes you pack on the pounds more then even regular old refined sugar! Please, I beg of you, stay away from high fructose corn syrup.

10. Potassium Bromate

This one snuck under my radar for sometime until curiosity piqued my interest. This stuff is used to increase the amount of bread products that can be made at one time, and has been conclusively shown to cause cancer in animals, that should tell you everything you need to know right there!

There have also been studies done that assessed how carcinogenic it is. Once again, this is a substance banned as a additive in Europe, Canada and even Brazil, but not in America. There is a ray of hope though as California is a state that actually requires labels for any products with potassium bromate in them, however it is the only one.

11. Propyl Gallate

This was a new one for me, and not as well known to a lot of folks, it is primarily a substance used to extend the shelf life of products. It is called an “anti oxidant” however, it has been shown to be what is known as a “Xenoestrogen” which is a substance that acts like estrogen in the body and can cause all sorts of issues.

One of the main harms this substance can cause is a reduced sperm count in men due to the high levels of estrogen and an increased risk of breast cancer for women, also due to the elevated levels of this form of estrogen. This stuff is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT, so by avoiding those you also increase your odds of consuming propyl gallate.

12. Sodium Benzoate

Ever had to deal with hyper children, maybe even adults for that matter? Turns out that a study published in the journal The Lancet found that a variety of commonly used food dyes (like the ones mentioned earlier in this list), and the preservative sodium benzoate which is found in the majority of soft drinks, packaged shelf stable fruit juices and salad dressings can make some children become noticeably more hyperactive and easily distracted, much like attention deficit disorder, or add for short.

How can you avoid this stuff if it isn’t labeled? Avoid buying these products all together! Ditch the soda and packaged juice, you can make your own (albeit in moderation). You can make your own healthy dressings easy with just some lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of seasoning.

Remember, it’s about being educated. Don’t be a victim, just become empowered and proactive and take charge of your health by simply being more conscious of what you eat. Eat more raw and organic foods, and if you go for processed food at all, just stick with USDA or QAI certified organic goods, most of those shouldn’t have any of the stuff I listed.

8 Responses to “12 of The Most Harmful Food Additives to Avoid”

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  1. Anya says:

    Very informative! Thanks for taking the time to blog about this very important issue.

  2. Lori Siebe says:

    Thank you for sharing this, it is very informative! With all of the boxed, processed, canned and frozen meals and a rise in health issues including ADD in children, as well as diabetes and cancers, and our girls’ bodies maturing faster, I can’t help but wonder if it’s all linked to what we eat and the chemicals we all absorb from what we put on us and things around us! What are your thoughts on stevia as a sweetener, my son has diabetes, but won’t use other diver free products, they give him a headache. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ed says:

      Hi Lori :). Thanks for visiting and sharing with me and the community here. My view on Stevia is that it is generally safe, if you consume the 100% natural version of it. Truvia is Coca-Cola’s heavily processed version of this natural leaf sweetener, and PureVia is Pepsi co’s version, and both are to be completely avoided. Stevia itself is a plant which has a natural sweetness that is 300 times that of traditional table sugar and has been used for thousands of years in the subtropic and tropical climates of South America.

      All sweeteners that don’t contain natural sugars and calories should be avoided as they are more than likely man made. This is because our minds are tricked when we consume this stuff because we don’t get the calories or nutrients our bodies expect from something that tastes so sweet, and we simply end up craving even more sugar. That’s why you see folks who drink diet soda pack on even more pounds.

      Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, so it is a fantastic option for anyone struggling with diabetes. In my experience it does not always blend well with everything and I have found it best used with baking and sweetening beverages, especially smoothies. I only advise buying organic Stevia, which comes in crushed leaf form (powder) and liquid form, kind of like vanilla extract.

      Here is a simple table sugar to Stevia conversion guide to get you started:
      1 cup of sugar = 1 tsp of stevia powder and 1 tsp of the liquid
      1 tbsp of sugar = 1/4 tsp of power and 6 to 9 drops of liquid
      1 tsp of sugar = a pinch to 1/16 tsp of powder and 2 to 4 drops of the liquid

      I hope that helps!

  3. Lori Ann says:

    The government ran the tobacco farmers out. They said cigarettes can cause cancer. like all these chemicals don’t? The government is not looking out for our good in any way. Wish more people would see this, thanks for your blog.

    • Ed says:

      Thanks you for the kind words Lori and for stopping by to share your thoughts as well. I think we can all agree cigarettes are bad for us in just about every way. Sadly, it is true that the government is not doing its due diligence in protecting our health, and as a result we have to learn how to take back our health into our own hands again. That can only happen when we educate ourselves, and take daily actions to not not only improve our own health, but the health of others.

  4. Me says:

    “4. Trans Fat
    Ah yes, one of my favorites, so to speak. This is a wonderful artificial fat substance known as trans fat, an additive that has actually been banned in Europe and many other modern western countries of the world, but not the good ol’ US of A. ”

    Gonna burst your bubble….
    Because there is this supermarket here in The Netherlands called Albert Heijn and all of their own brand food (AH Merk) contains TransFat…

    ThanX for your blog :)

    • Ed says:

      Thanks for stopping by! No bubble bursted here :). I did some more digging and you are right, but Europe obviously consists of a lot of countries, and the majority of them (and to your point, not all) do in fact have heavy restrictions on the type and amount of trans fat used, which is not the case in America, as it does occur naturally within nature in very small amounts.

      The EU commission will be presenting a report on trans fats roughly two years from now, and several other European countries; Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Austria to name a handful, already have laws limiting the use of trans fats in food. In Denmark for instance, they have laws banning food products with trans fats rates of over two percent, which they feel is dangerous. I will edit my post to reflect that, thanks for the information :), I want it to be as accurate as possible.

      There are some small signs of hope in this country as New York City has banned all but the smallest amounts of trans fats from restaurant food, and apparently a study was done which showed this improved health. You can read about it here: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/16/science/la-sci-trans-fat-ban-20120717

      California is the first state to have banned restaurants from using it at all which you can read about here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/25/california-becomes-first_n_115081.html

      I am always happy to hear from my European readers and friends, and I am still learning and growing on my health journey. Being that I don’t live there myself, this information is all the more important, thanks!

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