Food additives help our favorite snacks last longer, taste better, and look more enticing. Despite these benefits, most additives pose harmful risks to your health. And with the consumption of processed, packaged, and takeout food on the rise - it's likely you encounter some of the most common additives on a daily basis.
Here are 6 harmful ingredients, what they're made from, where you'll see them, and why you shouldn't eat them.
Vegetable Oils and Seed Oils
Seed oil is an edible oil derived from plant seeds. These include sesame seed oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grape seed oil, and rice bran oil.
Industrial seed oil production requires a rigorous process involving high temperatures, chemical extraction, and synthetic additives. What remains is a nutritionally deficient product that has been oxidized, has trans fat, and is loaded with toxic chemicals. Most restaurants cook with seed oil because it's cost effective.
Seed oils contribute to inflammation, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (AKA trans fat)
Hydrogenated vegetable oil is a man-made product "created by forcing hydrogen gas into vegetable fats under extremely high pressure". Sure, it improves consistency and lengthens shelf life of food, but trans fat is harmful to the human body. In fact, the FDA recently repealed its GRA status (generally recognized as safe).
You will find trans fat in items such as margarine, frozen dinners, cookies, cakes, fast food, nondairy creamer, and take out from restaurants.
Trans fat contributes to inflammation, clogged arteries, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn is highly subsidized by the USDA, making it cheap and accessible. That's why we find it in just about everything, especially under the guise of high fructose corn syrup. This is a sweetener made from corn, much sweeter than sugar.
It's found in food items like soda, juice, candy, and cereals - to name a few.
It's a major contributor to diabetes, weight gain, obesity, and inflammation.
Xanthan gum is a common thickener and stabilizer. If you're gluten-free, it's likely you're consuming xanthan gum on a regular basis.
It's also found in syrups, ice cream, salad dressing, soups, fruit juices, and even toothpaste.
Food dye is used to improve the appearance and appeal of your food. Likelihood is you frequently consume food dye, but it's most important to be on the look out for the following: yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1, red 3, and red 40.
Red 3 has proven to cause cancer in animals and all five listed above are believed to be carcinogenic in humans and cause allergic reactions. Some sources believe food dyes have contributed to ADD in children, as well.
These dyes can be found in items such as cookies, condiments, chips, soda, and cereal.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
BHA is a petroleum-derived antioxidant "used to preserve fats and oils".
It's found in food products such as butter, meats, cereals, chewing gum, beer, instant mashed potatoes, and packaged snack foods. It's also found in cosmetics, petroleum products, and wax packaging.
BHA has been proven to cause cancer in rats. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services declared BHA "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen". Additionally, the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption deemed BHA a category 1 substance because it "interferes with hormone function".
These ingredients are not only unhealthy, they're dangerous. They contribute to chronic diseases, increase risk of heart attacks, and may even lead to infertility.
So next time you reach for that bag of potato chips, remember what you're really eating. And if you do eat them, make sure you're checking the food label so that you're aware of their contents. You'll thank yourself later!