If you eat any food out of a box or package, you may be eating dangerous food additives and not know it unless you are reading the ingredient label. Food additives are incorporated into many processed foods to extend their shelf life. However, many additives promote disease after you ingest them. Some of them are even associated with causing cancer! Check out the list to see if any of these additives are in your food.
The Environmental Working Group, the same group that released the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list for pesticides, has just released their Dirty Dozen guide for food additives. The additives making the list are:
- Sodium Nitrites and Nitrates. A preservative found in processed and deli meats.
- Potassium Bromate. An additive in bread and other baked goods.
- Propyl Paraben. A preservative in tortillas, muffins and food dyes.
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). A preservative in breakfast cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter spreads, meat, popcorn and chips.
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). A preservative similar to and often used with BHA.
- Propyl Gallate. A preservative used to prevent fats and oils from spoiling. It is found in sausage, frozen pizza, and other processed foods containing fat.
- Theobromine. An additive found in some chocolate.
- Natural and Artificial Flavors. It is best to avoid these as there is no way of knowing exactly what they are. Strawberry artificial flavor, for example, can have up to 50 chemical ingredients. Natural flavor could mean it contains monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Artificial Colors. These are food dyes blue, red, green, and yellow, which are often used in beverages, baked goods, candy, cherries, fruit cocktail, sausage, and Jello.
- Diacetyl. This is used as a butter flavoring in microwave popcorn. It is also used to flavor dairy products, including yogurt and cheese, and it is used in foods with maple, strawberry, and raspberry flavors.
- Phosphates. These are in more than 20,000 products, including fast food, baked goods, and processed meats.
- Aluminum Additives. Sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate, and many other aluminum additives are found in processed foods.
The best way to avoid these ingredients is to eat primarily a whole food diet that contains little, if any processed foods. If you do buy anything that comes in a box, jar, or other packaging, be sure to check the ingredient label.