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Keep These Eight Off Your Plate

Subtract food additives from your diet

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Keep These Eight Off Your Plate

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.

AdditiveWhy it’s usedWhere it’s hiddenWhat’s the concern?*
acesulfame-Ksweetensbaked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, soft drinkscancer and thyroid problems
artificial colouringenhances appealbaked goods, candy, beverages, pet food, maraschino cherries, medicationsbrain, thyroid, adrenal gland, and kidney tumours; may trigger urticaria (hives), asthma, and hyperactivity
artificial sweeteners(aspartame, saccharin)sweetenschewing gum, diet beveragescentral 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 rancidcereals, chewing gum, vegetable oil, potato chips, food packagingcancer, liver, and kidney damage; behavioural problems; infertility; may weaken immune system; birth defects; may trigger asthma, rhinitis, and urticaria
carrageenanstabilizes and thickenssoy milk, ice cream, yogourt, cottage cheese, condensed milk, pudding, flan, custard, whipped topping, diet shakes, instant breakfast drinks, jam, soy, and bakery productsulcers; possibly cancer; suppresses immunity; inflammatory bowel disease
hydrogenated, partially, vegetable oils (trans fat)increases shelf life; stabilizes flavourcookies, crackers, margarine, vegetable shortening, salad dressings, breads, many manufactured foodsheart disease; breast and colon cancer; atherosclerosis; elevated cholesterol; depressed immune system; allergies
MSG (monosodium glutamate)enhances flavour; preservativebreakfast 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 medicationstightness in the chest, palpitations, fainting, flushing, sweating, headache, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting; may trigger asthma
nitrates and nitritespreserves and makes meat redprepared (luncheon) meats, bacon, ham, hot dogs, corned beef, smoked fishstomach cancer

*Based primarily on animal studies and personal accounts including allergic reactions.

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