Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's In Your Diet Wednesday - Most Dangerous Food Additives

I often post about what we put in our bodies, and as a person involved in the health field, I should be very vigilant about my diet and most times I am.  I'm also as guilty as the next person when grabbing a quick snack or hitting the drive-thru in a rush to get things done.  All of my life, I've been a voracious reader of books, and with the ease of the internet, I read endless stories about general health, various conditions, and local / national news.

Part of the reason I love "What's In Your Diet Wednesday" is because even when I'm in a hurry and making lunch or going out to eat at a restaurant or the dreaded drive-thru, it makes me stop and think about what I'm eating.  When I stay informed and read current diet information, it helps me to make better choices about 80% of the time.  For me that is a BIG deal!! 

So I hope that you can take this information with you in the back of your busy mind, to make better choices in your daily life.

Read this article from
In Pictures: Most Dangerous Food Additives

Modern cuisine is heavily laced with additives for coloring, flavoring and preserving our food. Some of these additives are harmless, some questionable and others are downright dangerous. Here are nine you should avoid.

The sweetener found in Equal and NutraSweet and thousands of other food products has many critics. Though certified by the FDA, aspartame has been shown in many studies to have a correlation with cancer. Furthermore, the controversial FDA approval of aspartame prompted a congressional investigation.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Commonly referred to as trans fats, these plant oils have had hydrogen atoms added to them to make them more saturated, extending their shelf life and making them easier to bake with. Most health experts agree that these fats increase the risk of coronary artery disease and raise bad cholesterol levels. New York City recently banned the use of artificial trans fats in its restaurants.

Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrite is most often used as a preservative. Eating meats preserved with it--such as hot dogs, bacon and breakfast sausages--can increase the risk of cancer because nitrite can form carcinogenic compounds when exposed to hot environments like a frying pan or acidic environments like the digestive system.

Artificial Coloring

Many artificially colored foods use synthetic dyes. Over the years, the FDA has banned many dyes while certifying others for use in our baked goods, beverages and candies. Still, some health groups maintain that the approved dyes Blue 1 and 2, Red 3, and Yellow 6 pose a cancer risk, and that further research needs to be done.


The additive olestra is better known by its brand name, Olean, which is used in fat-free Frito Lay potato chips. Despite being approved by the FDA, for many years foods containing olestra were labeled with a warning that the additive may cause abdominal cramping and gastrointestinal problems, as well as inhibit the absorption of essential vitamins.


This controversial natural sweetener substitute has been off and on the FDA's list of banned additives. It is currently permitted as a dietary supplement but not as a food additive. The World Health Organization found it not to be carcinogenic, but said further study should be done.


The oldest artificial sweetener is used in Sweet 'N' Low and found in many diet foods and sodas. Saccharin first had its health risks investigated by the USDA in 1907 when Theodore Roosevelt was in office. Since then, there have been numerous studies linking it to cancer, and in 1977 the FDA proposed banning it. An FDA-mandated label is no longer required, but saccharin is still considered by many to be a possible carcinogen.


Sulfites are chemicals that are used to keep cut fruits and vegetables from discoloring, as well as prevent bacterial growth and fermentation in wine. Once considered safe, they've since been found to occasionally cause fatal allergic reactions. In the 1980s, Congress urged the FDA to ban sulfite use on raw fruits and vegetables, and the FDA has been broadening its ban on the additives ever since.


These two chemicals slow the rate of autoxidation in food, preventing changes in color, smell and taste. Some studies have shown BHA to be carcinogenic. The jury is out on BHT.

Let us know how you feel.  Have you had any adverse effects from consuming these additives?  Personally we don't agree with the Stevia comments, even though the WHO and FDA are noncommittal, we use Stevia and think it's a great alternative to sugar in most cases.  What do you think?  Any foods or additives that you would add to or take away from this list? Tell us in the comments section.......

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