Avoid harmful food additives lurking in many food products by eating whole, organic foods.
My first food-additive health scare left an indelible mark. I was working at a golf course while going to college. After one event, the party’s hostess offered cake to the staff. Aco-worker, wildly waving a washed butpink-stained plate, saved me from takinga big bite of Red Dye #3.
I couldn’t help but wonder what that china-ruining pigment would do to me. From that moment, I have been cautious about eating artificially coloured foods. However, I have learned that we should be wary of more than just the addition of colours to our food.
Additives are used for many reasons, mostly in processed/prepared foods. If you must buy prepared foods, read the labels. In addition to the usual suspects–salt, sugar, and caffeine–which pose a risk because of their prevalence, there are many other ingredients to be wary of. These are listed in the chart on the following page.
The best way to avoid some of the dangers lurking in many food products is to eat primarily whole and, whenever possible, organic foods. You’ll make your life simpler–and definitely healthier.
|Additive||Why it’s used||Where it’s hidden||What’s the concern?*|
|acesulfame-K||sweetens||baked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, soft drinks||cancer and thyroid problems|
|artificial colouring||enhances appeal||baked goods, candy, beverages, pet food, maraschino cherries, medications||brain, thyroid, adrenal gland, and kidney tumours; may trigger urticaria (hives), asthma, and hyperactivity|
|artificial sweeteners(aspartame, saccharin)||sweetens||chewing gum, diet beverages||central nervous system disturbances; menstrual difficulties; may impair fetal brain and growth development; lymphoma, leukemia, and brain tumours|
|BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) & BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)||preserves/antioxidizes to keep fats and oils from going rancid||cereals, chewing gum, vegetable oil, potato chips, food packaging||cancer, liver, and kidney damage; behavioural problems; infertility; may weaken immune system; birth defects; may trigger asthma, rhinitis, and urticaria|
|carrageenan||stabilizes and thickens||soy milk, ice cream, yogourt, cottage cheese, condensed milk, pudding, flan, custard, whipped topping, diet shakes, instant breakfast drinks, jam, soy, and bakery products||ulcers; possibly cancer; suppresses immunity; inflammatory bowel disease|
|hydrogenated, partially, vegetable oils (trans fat)||increases shelf life; stabilizes flavour||cookies, crackers, margarine, vegetable shortening, salad dressings, breads, many manufactured foods||heart disease; breast and colon cancer; atherosclerosis; elevated cholesterol; depressed immune system; allergies|
|MSG (monosodium glutamate)||enhances flavour; preservative||breakfast sausage, some manufactured vegetarian foods, soups, salad dressings, sausages, hot dogs, canned tuna, potato chips, infant formula, low-fat milk, candy, chewing gum, drinks, over-the-counter medications||tightness in the chest, palpitations, fainting, flushing, sweating, headache, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting; may trigger asthma|
|nitrates and nitrites||preserves and makes meat red||prepared (luncheon) meats, bacon, ham, hot dogs, corned beef, smoked fish||stomach cancer|
*Based primarily on animal studies and personal accounts including allergic reactions.