Food additives are added to foods to preserve flavor or enhance taste, appearance, or other qualities. Some of these additives have been used for centuries; including preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, or using sulfur dioxide in wines. More additives have been introduced in the past 10 years, than any other time in human history. Food additives can be from both natural and artificial sources. Artificial food preservatives, food colors and flavor enhancers, many of these can be dangerous chemicals added to our food and are known to be linked to Hyperactivity, Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD), Asthma, Cancer, Poisonings and other negative medical conditions.
Food additives have been used for centuries to enhance the appearance and flavor of food and prolong its shelf life. However, do additives “add” any value to your food? Food additives have found their way into our food supply to help make processing, packaging, and storage easier. But how can you know which food additives are in that box of food and why does it have such a long shelf life?
A typical American household spends about 90 % of their food budget on processed foods and in doing so they are exposed to a multitude of artificial food additives, many of which can have a serious effect on your health. Some food additives are worse for you than others. Here’s a list of the top food additives you should try to avoid as much as possible.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, (E951) more popularly known as Nutrasweet and Equal, is found in foods labeled “diet” or “sugar-free”. Found in diet or sugar-free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar-free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste.
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined artificial sweetener which has become the number one source of calories intake in America. It adds to weight gain faster than any other ingredient, in the Standard American diet. It can be found in most processed foods, including bread, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, and cereals jut to mention a few.
3. Monosodium Glutamate or (MSG / E621)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and many restaurant foods for decades. MSG affects the brain and deregulates the “I’m full” function, which explains its effect on weight gain. Often found in Chinese food many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most canned soups, frozen foods and lunch meats.
4. Trans Fat
Trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food. It is among the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Studies show that it increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes, and increases inflammation, diabetes, and other health problems. Trans fat are found in margarine, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods.
5. Food Dyes
Studies show that artificial colorings found in soda, fruit juices, and salad dressings, may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a reduction in IQ. Studies have shown some food colorings have a higher risk of causing cancer. These are the worst offenders:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133) Found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods.
Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124) Found in fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more.
Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102) Found in some cheeses, macaroni and cheese, candy, carbonated beverages, lemonade and many more.
6. Sodium Sulfite (E221)
Preservative used in wine-making and some other processed foods. Most people effected by Sodium Sulfite are asthmatic, suggesting there could be a link between asthma and sulfites. Individuals who are sulfite sensitive may experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes and in extreme cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airways and lead to cardiac arrest. Found in wine and dried fruit.
7. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring enhancer in bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, corned beef, cured meats, smoked fish and other processed meats. When consumed it forms nitrosamine compounds that enter the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on numerous internal organs, like, the liver and pancreas.
8. BHA And BHT (E320)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, gum, enriched rice, lard, candy, Jello, shortening, and vegetable oils. This common ingredient keeps foods from changing color, changing the flavor or becoming rancid. Affects the brain, alters behavior and has a potential to cause cancer.
9. Sulfur Dioxide (E220)
Sulfur additives are toxic and in the US are prohibited from use on raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include breathing problems, particularly in those with asthma, low blood pressure, flushing, a tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E in the body. Found in beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, wine, vinegar, and potato products.
10. Potassium Bromate
Is an additive used to increase volume in some white flour, bread, and rolls. It is known to cause cancer in animals. Even the smallest amount in bread can create problems for humans. Found mostly in bread.
Where to look to find food additives on food packaging:
Look under INGREDIENTS or CONTAINS on package labels, usually next to NUTRITION INFORMATION. However, not all additives are required by law to be listed and can be printed in small print or just listed by their code numbers. This can present a big problem for people who are sensitive or allergic to these additives. If they are extremely allergic it could be the cause of a hospital visit or worse can kill them.
If you are sensitive or allergic to food additives, reactions can occur hours and even days after you eat them, therefore it can be hard for many people to know if food additives are the cause of a reaction. The best way to determine if additives could be the reason for your symptoms try cooking and eating only organic, natural, raw, not modified, food items. Keep a food, drink, and symptom diary, to help you stay on track and see how long it takes to feel better and if there are also food sensitivities or allergies you are suffering from. If you do this for just one month you can compare the effects of the new diet against the previous diet and potentially see or feel the difference. This experiment could just save your life or your child’s life.
*exerpts from: http://www.foodmatters.com/article/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid