Top 6 Synthetic Chemicals and Additives to Avoid in Foods

Madeline: Posted 17/02/2015

It is interesting to go to the grocery store and take a close look at the labels on many of the food products that are available for purchase. The Standard American Diet has shifted to include many processed foods, and this change has led to more health problems because most of the processed foods contain dangerous ingredients and additives. If you want to boost your health, then you need to make a change to your dietary habits.

Keep in mind that there are over 20,000 food chemicals and additives that are allowed by the FDA, making it nearly impossible to identify and avoid every potential ingredient that could be dangerous to your health. The best option is to eliminate processed foods completely, or be careful to stick with a few trusted brands.

Here are 6 common synthetic chemicals and additives that you should be avoiding:

° Common Food Dyes: Food dyes or artifical colors are found in just about everything, because they make the food look “good.” These ingredients are banned in other locations, such as Europe, but they are commonly used by major food producers in the United States. It has been found that food dyes are linked with a number of health problems, including tumor growth, kidney damage, thyroid problems, and hyperactivity. There are nine food dyes approved by the FDA that U.S. manufacturers can use to enhance the color of their food. The three most common FD & C (Food, Drug & Cosmetic) food dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. You can find these dyes in rainbow-colored cereal, cupcakes, and candies that contain artificial colors. Even salad dressing, dairy, beverages, soups, and snacks often contain synthetic dyes.

° Natural Flavor: If you see an ingredient listed as “natural flavor,” it can be very deceiving. Most people assume that natural means that it is healthy, but the term can be used for a wide variety of ingredients. Natural only means that the ingredient originated from a natural source, but it could still be dangerous to your health. According to the FDA, “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”  Although these flavorings are derived from natural sources, they are often highly processed and therefore, not so “natural.” There are approximately 500 flavorings which are derived from natural sources. Even if organic, you should still be concerned about the ingredient because it doesn’t source where it comes from.

° Soy Lecithin: Often used as an emulsifier, soy lecithin can be found in tea bags, salad dressings, and a variety of other common products. One of the biggest problems with soy lecithin is the fact that it is usually loaded with pesticide residues that are leftover from the soy processing. Soy lecithin is usually genetically modified, and it has been linked with many allergy problems.

° Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO): Brominated vegetable oil is a complex mixture of triglycerides derived from plants, and the ingredient is added to a variety of processed foods. For example, when BVO is added to soft drink with a citrus flavor, it prevents separation of the drink when it is being distributed. BVO was created originally to be a flame retardant used for clothing and bedding, and then it was discovered that it could be used as an emulsifier, so manufacturers started adding it to food.

° Mono Sodium Glutamine (MSG): Commonly added to a variety of foods, MSG can be very dangerous to your health. It is often used in broth and soup, as well as Asian sauces and products. This flavor enhancer can lead to a number of health problems, including fibromyalgia, poor attention, headaches, weakness in the legs and arms, and obesity. Do you know that more than 40 different ingredients contain the chemical in monosodium glutamate (processed free glutamic acid)? Yep! The FDA does not require manufacturers to label these foods MSG unless the “added ingredient” is 99% pure MSG. Whenever protein is broken down in the body, glutamic acid is freed from a protein (in which it naturally occurs), and you have the potential of free glutamic acid building up in the blood and a possible toxic MSG reaction. Here are the names of ingredients that contain processed free glutamic.

° BHA/BHT: Two ingredients that should be avoided include Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole, which are preservatives that have been linked with hyperactivity in children. These ingredients are considered carcinogenic, but they are still allowed in the foods in the United States. What kinds of foods? You name it and it most likely is in it. Here are some, just to name a few: gum, cereals, fast food, drink mixes, snack foods, pet food, etc. BHA & BHT can also be  found in food packaging, animal feed, cosmetics,  pharmaceuticals, rubber, and plastics. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Report on Carcinogens, 12th Edition, reports that BHA is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from animal studies.

The following are some examples of foods where you can find these common artificial chemicals and additives:

How to Avoid These Ingredients

The best way to avoid these harmful chemicals and additives is by cooking your own food at home, because then you will know everything that is added to your meal. Stick with a diet that is focused around whole, natural ingredients such as lean meat, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. When you are cooking for your family, you will be able to control the meals that are being served.

Real ingredients are always better, because you know that they haven’t been altered or ruined during the processing. Stick with foods that are in their natural, true colors, and stay away from things that have been loaded with preservatives to keep them fresh. It is better to eat real ingredients in their natural form, rather than foods that have been so processed that they no longer resemble the original ingredients that were added.

If you need to buy pre-packaged foods, then you should always buy organic, read the ingredient label and look for the most natural ingredients as possible. Reading the ingredient label will help you to understand if the food is harmful to your health, and you can choose food brands that you trust. If you see ingredients on the label that you don’t recognize or anything that you wouldn’t normally have in your kitchen cupboards, then stay away!



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