10 Food Additives to Avoid

Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid

Eating a completely whole food, unprocessed diet is unrealistic for most busy families. But as parents, we want to make the best choices for our children, especially when it comes to their health and nutrition. So what is the first step that you can take to reduce your children’s exposure to potentially harmful food additives and preservatives?
Here is our list of the top ten food additives you should try to eliminate from your children’s diet. These were chosen based on scientific evidence that supports a link between the additives consumption, and conditions such as hyperactivity, allergies, eczema, or cancer. They were also chosen because of the frequency of which they are found in highly processed foods. Avoid these, and you will naturally move towards a more real food diet.
(Please remember that along with these additives you should also cut back on foods containing lots of refined sugars, trans fats, sodium, and caffeine, especially for kids!)
  1. Artificial Colors - Synthetic chemicals used to add color to processed food. Examples are Blue 1 & 2, Green 3, Red 3 & 40, Yellow 5 & 6. Numerous studies have linked artificial colors to such conditions as allergies, hyperactivity, and tumors. Perhaps the most influential study to support this claim is the Southampton Study, conducted at the University of Southampton in the UK.
  2. Artificial Flavors - A chemical mixture produced in a lab to mimic a particular flavor. When food is mass produced and dehydrated, canned, or frozen, much of it’s natural flavor is lost. Manufacturers use artificial flavors to add the flavor back in cheaply. If a food contains artificial flavors, it is typically a good indicator that the food is highly processed and has low nutritional value. Did you know that the artificial strawberry flavor is made by mixing almost 50 different chemicals?!?
  3. Artificial Sweeteners - Includes aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low) and acesulfame K. Countless studies have reported links to cancers, neurological dysfunction, and other health risks. In fact aspartame accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined!
  4. BHA / BHT - These are preservatives that keep fats and oils from going rancid, and can be found in foods such as cereals, potato chips, enriched rice, and potato flakes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Doesn’t sound like something you want your kids to eat, does it?
  5. Carrageenan - Used in ice cream, syrup, or cottage cheese as a thickening, gelling, or stabilizing agent. It is derived from seaweed. Some studies have linked consumption to intestinal inflammation, although small amounts in food are considered safe.
  6. High Fructose Corn Syrup - Created using a highly processed method. The corn producers do have it right when they say that HFCS is no worse for you than any other type of sugar. True - sugar is sugar, after all. However, consider how many processed, pre-packaged food products on the shelves contain some type of corn syrup today, most of which were made from genetically modified (GMO) corn. If you choose to only eliminate corn syrup sweeteners from your diet you would probably cut out about 80% - 90% of processed food on the market today. It’s a great place to start!
  7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - Brings out the flavor in foods which allows food manufacturers to use less “real ingredients” and save money. It is a controversial food additive that causes sensitivity in many people including headache, nausea, wheezing, and changes in heart rate.
  8. Sodium Benzoate - A preservative used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. Some people have a sensitivity which causes asthma, hives, or other allergic reactions. When used in beverages containing Vitamin C, a reaction occurs producing benzene, a chemical that causes cancer.
  9. Sodium Nitrate / Nitrite - A common preservative in lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, and cured meats. Nitrites can break down into nitrosamines, which are chemicals known to cause certain cancers.
  10. TBHQ - A preservative found in found in many snack foods such as cookies, crackers, cereals, as well as vegetable oils. Studies have shown that in higher doses it may be carcinogenic, especially for stomach tumors. The FDA deems it safe in small amounts, so consumption should be monitored.


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