Wellness Wednesday: 5 Harmful Food Ingredients to Avoid

Do you know what's in your food? If you’re not an avid label reader when buying groceries, now is the time to start. Those seemingly healthy quick meals, yogurts and cereals may be hiding harmful food additives that can cause adverse side effects and even cancer over time. Used as preservatives and to add flavor, these lab-generated chemicals are keeping you hooked and making you sick. Watch out for these five harmful ingredients and the most common foods you will find them in.

Harmful Food Ingredient to Avoid: Aspartame

Noted by Dr. Mercola as one of the most dangerous substances added to food today, aspartame is composed of three chemicals that lead to numerous adverse side effects and chronic illnesses over time. Used most popularly in diet sodas and hundreds of other common food products, this artificial sweetener has been known to cause migraine headaches, seizures, muscle spasms, weight gain, depression, insomnia, memory loss and more. According to researchers, chronic illnesses such as cancer, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia can be worsened with the consumption of aspartame.

Look for Aspartame in:

  • Diet Sodas
  • Powdered Drinks (Crystal Light)
  • Energy Drinks
  • Yogurt
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Cereals
  • Gum

Harmful Food Ingredient to Avoid: Sodium Benzoate

Used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods, sodium benzoate is a common food preservative with antifungal properties that protects food from spoiling. When combined with vitamin C, sodium benzoate forms a carcinogen known as benzene, which can contribute to many different forms of cancer. Other reported side effects including asthma, hyperactivity and allergic reactions become worse when digesting sodium benzoate. Due to the amount of bad publicity surrounding sodium benzoate, companies are looking for alternatives, yet it is still widely used. Look for this food additive in acidic foods and those that contain vinegar.

Look for Sodium Benzoate in:

  • Soda
  • Salad Dressings
  • Fruit Juices
  • Sauces and Condiments
  • Pickles
  • Jams and Jelly
  • Concentrated Lemon Juice

Harmful Food Ingredient to Avoid: Partially Hydrogenated OIl

Partially hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats, are used to prolong the shelf life of food, stabilize flavor and reduce costs. Made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, trans fats are the hardest to break down by the body. While raising your “bad” cholesterol and lowering your “good” cholesterol, trans fats also increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and nutritional deficiencies. Be sure to read labels when purchasing processed foods as those that contain less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving can be labeled, “trans-fat free.”

Look for Partially Hydrogenated OIl in:

  • Frozen Meals
  • Crackers
  • Popcorm
  • Margarine
  • Peanut Butter
  • Biscuit, Pancake and Cake Mixes
  • Frozen Waffles, Toaster Pastries, Pancakes

Harmful Ingredient to Avoid: High Fructose Corn Syrup

A highly processed food sweetener and preservative made from cornstarch, high fructose corn syrup delays the expiration date of food while still maintaining a great taste. If you read labels often, you will not be surprised to see this ingredient in numerous items the general public buys each week. Chemical contaminants and toxins used during manufacturing including mercury end up in HFCS and can lead to adverse reations. When eaten in excess, HFCS can also lead to diabetes, obesity, metabolic disorders, inflammation and other health issues. Regardless of what the corn industry has to say, avoid HFCS at all costs by consuming plenty of natural, whole foods.

Look for High Fructose Corn Syrup in:

  • Cereals
  • Yogurt
  • Granola Bars
  • Crackers
  • Condiments
  • Apple Sauce
  • Breads and Muffins
  • Fruit Juices

Harmful Food Ingredient to Avoid: BHA

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), is an antioxidant food additive that prevents fats and yeast from spoiling. While still allowed in foods by the FDA, The Department of Health and Human Services has pronounced it as a known human carcinogen. It is believed to be safe in small doses, but research shows its consumption may be associated with liver and kidney damage, cancer, fetal abnormalities and have negative impacts on sleep and appetite. There is also proof that some people have a hard time metabolizing BHA, which can lead to behavioral changes.

Look for Butylated Hydroxyanisole in:

  • Oil and Butter
  • Baked Goods (Muffins and Pastries)
  • Granola Bars
  • Potato Chips
  • Meat Products (Chicken Nuggets and Sausage)
  • Beer
  • Cereals

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Lifestyle / Wellness



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