Eating a diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods is the best way to avoid your exposure to harmful food additives. However, most people do eat some processed foods from time-to-time. It’s important to know which ones are terrible choices, and which ones are okay. Read the labels on your food, and keep an eye out for these 10 food additives. They’re not the only ones out there, but they’re the ugliest of them all.
1. Brominated Vegetable Oil. Often used as a flavor booster in soft drinks and sodas, brominated vegetable oil keeps flavors in suspension. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to kidney damage, birth defects and poor thyroid function.
2. Artificial Sweeteners. There are many artificial sweeteners, but the most common are aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. These highly processed chemicals have been linked to neurological conditions including brain tumors, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s. Some are also thought to contribute to depression, anxiety attacks and dizziness.
3. Hydrogenated and Partially-Hydrogenated Oils. Used in many processed cakes, cookies and snacks, these ingredients contain harmful trans fats that have been linked to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. They’re also associated with an increased risk of colon and breast cancer.
4. Potassium Bromate. Although the state of California lists potassium bromate as a chemical known to cause cancer, it is still widely used. Look for potassium bromate in flour, breads, and crackers. It’s used as a bleaching agent to whiten flour.
5. Olestra. Appearing in many “low-fat” products, Olestra is an indigestible fat substitute. Unfortunately, its side effects are far worse than the consequences of eating natural fat. Olestra causes anal leakage, gas, cramps, inadequate vitamin absorption and, when eaten regularly, an increased risk of prostate cancer and blindness.