I’m sure most of you know by now that just because a product is on your grocery store shelf, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. We all try to avoid processed candy, cookies and foods we are absolutely certain are not healthy for us or our children. But what some of you may not know is that many ingredients found in packaged and processed foods are REALLY bad for your health and in some cases downright scary!
Many packaged foods contain additives and preservatives; are made with genetically modified ingredients (always look for the non-GMO-certified label if you are not sure). These items have detrimental effects on the body, especially if consumed in excess. It is important to not only read nutritional labels for protein, carbs, sugar and fats, but to read the full list of ingredients as well. In this way, you will learn which foods are beneficial to your health and which are not. There are almost always healthier versions of your favorite packaged foods that do not contain these harmful ingredients. By shopping at health food stores such as Whole Foods or online at www.Vitacost.com you have the ability to make better choices for you and your family. While they may be a little more expensive, the health benefits you will get are well worth it.
The following, while not a complete list, are common food additives to avoid whenever possible:
Acesulfame Potassium, Acesulfame-K (Ace-K)
Protein powders, Bodybuilding powders, “diet” products. Usually combined with Aspartame to mask its chemical aftertaste.
Due to containing methylene chloride, may cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight, hypoglycemia and possibly cancer.
Acacia Gum (Gum Arabic)
Chewing gum, candies, frosting, soft drinks & related beverages
Asthma attacks, skin rashes, pregnancy and fetal development problems.
Ice cream and other frozen desserts, salad dressings, cheese spreads and dips
Pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Aspartame (brand name Nutrasweet), E951
Diet and sugar-free soft drinks, gum, candy, instant desserts (Jello, puddings), sugar-free gum, drink mixes (Crystal light, Kool Aid), cough syrup
Mental confusion, rashes, depression, anxiety, headaches, nausea, seizures, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, insomnia.
Margarine, beer, pickled vegetables, soft drinks, jelly, jams, fruit juice, barbecue sauce
Asthma attacks, rashes, irritation of eyes and mucuos membranes, hyperactivity in children, neurological disorders
BHA and BHT
Chewing gum, candy, enriched rice, most major grocery store brands of cereal, shortening, desserts & deli meats.
Elevated cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility, immune disorders, increased susceptibility to carcinogens, behavioral problems in children.
Calcium Disodium EDTA
Mayonnaise, dressing, canned beans, canned potatoes
Blood in urine, intestinal upset, kidney damage, muscle cramping.
Common Food Dyes/Food colouring, especially Yellow #5 (Tartrazine; E102)
Candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit cocktails, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, ices, bakery products, American cheese, packaged macaroni & cheese
Hyperactivity & behavioral problems in children (ADD/ ADHD), asthma, migraine headaches, kidney and adrenal damage, allergic reactions
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, cereals, cookies
Increases LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, contributes to the development of obesity and diabetes.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), autolyzed yeast extract
Chinese food, salt substitutes, soups, condiments, bouillon cubes, spices & seasonings, potato chips, frozen dinners, lunch meats
Allergic reactions, headaches, eye inflammation, brain edema, central nervous and vascular system problems, obesity (shuts off the feeling of being full), depression and fatigue.
Sodium Benzoate & Potassium Sorbate
Soft drinks, packaged spreads such as hummus, tahini, etc., Yogurts
Allergic reaction; “chemical” taste in foods.
Sodium/Potassium Sulfite or Metabisulfite or Sulphites
Dried fruits (if does NOT contain, label must state “sulphite free” or “unsulphited”), wine
Headaches, asthma attacks, allergic reactions such as flushing, redness, itchiness.
Hot dogs, smoked fish, smoked meats & luncheon meats ie. Pastrami, salami, corned beef
Birth defects, cancer – nitrates can combine with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a highly carcinogenic substance.
“Diet” foods, cake mixes and snacks, low-calorie beverages, diet soft drinks
Shrunken thymus, enlarged liver/kidneys (shown in lab rats who consumed Splenda)
Sulphur Dioxide, E220
Beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, wine, vinegar, potato products
Bronchial problems, asthma, flushing, tingling sensations, destruction of vitamins B1 & Vitamin E in the body.
Tertiary butydroquinone (TBHG)
Candy bars, baking sprays, fast foods
Childhood behavioral problems.
Trans Fat, Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
Margarine, chips, crackers, baked goods & fast foods
Increases LDL “bad” cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL “good” cholesterol, increased risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes, contributes to increased inflammation.
Please feel free to print this list and take it with you when shopping at you local grocery store; look through the food items in your fridge and pantry to see which items contain these ingredients and slowly switch them for healthier products. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions regarding this list or if you think other ingredients should be included.