Most food manufacturers use plenty of unhealthy and even suspicious ingredients in order to extend the shelf life of their food items.
This means that you need to stay away from these toxic ingredients at all costs, if you are to protect your health.
Here are the top 10 offenders (not ranked according to the level of harm they cause):
1. Monosodium Glutamate ( MSG)
MSG is an amino acid typically used to enhance the flavor of processed foods.
It is well-known excitotoxin, which has been scientifically shown to negatively affect the nerve cells, overexciting them, and eventually leading to the point of cell death. Regular consumption of foods containing MSG damages a significant amount of brain cells, which may cause various neurological disorders. Additionally, eating MSG regularly has been also found to increase appetite and eventually lead to obesity and weight gain.
MSG can be found by different names, including Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Vegetable Protein Extract, Barley Malt, Calcium Caseinate and Malt Extract.
It is typically found in foods like canned meats, low-fat yogurt, potato chips, canned soups, frozen entrees, flavored crackers, and salad dressings.
Aspartame is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners. Just like MSG, it is an excitotoxin which causes effects like dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Aspartame contains 10% methalon, a substance which has been found to break down into formaldehyde and formic acid when metabolized in the body. The first one is said to be a powerful carcinogen and nerve toxin, which is the reason why aspartame accounts for more adverse effects than any other food additives.
It is known under the name of Spoonful, Natrataste, AminoSweet, Canderel, and Equal. It is found in more than 6,000 products, including mints, instant breakfast, frozen desserts, gelatins, diet and sugar-free sodas, and sugar-free chewing gums.
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
HFCS is a highly refined sugar which is obtained by the separation of corn starch from the corn kernel. Then, the corn starch is converted into corn syrup through acid hydrolysis.
This ingredient has been shown to contribute to weight gain and diabetes as well as raised LDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. A 2009 study done by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found mercury in 9 out of 20 HFCS samples. Mercury is a heavy metal which has been scientifically shown to be toxic to the brain.
HFCS can be also found under the names of glucose/fructose (syrup), high-fructose maize syrup inulin, corn sugar, fruit fructose, and iso-glucose. It is typically found in products like cereals, breads, soups, pizza sauces, condiments, lunch meats, and salad dressings.
4. Agave Nectar
This processed sweetener is obtained from the agave plant. Contrary to popular belief, agave nectar is highly detrimental ingredient and it contains the highest amount of fructose among all commercial sweeteners.
It has been shown to significantly increase insulin resistance, which is the first step towards the development of type II diabetes. When broken down in the liver, it is converted into fat and eventually leads to problems like inflammation, fatty liver disease, weight gain, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar levels.
It is commonly found in energy bars and cereals, ice cream, ketchup, and various sources. It is sold as a stand-alone sweetener, too.
5. Artificial Food Coloring
Artificial food colorings were initially obtained from coal tar-and are now synthesized from petroleum. Many of them have been banned due to their adverse effects in lab studies.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) study on food colorings, “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet it is still in the food supply.”
A 2007 British study has also found that many of the common food colorings and preservatives like sodium benzoate decreased attention spans and increased hyperactivity in children.
They are known under the following names: FD&C Red No.40, Allura Red AC, Yellow 5 and 6, FD&C Green Number 3, Fast Green, FD&C Blue #1, Brilliant Blue FCF, Bright blue, Blue # 2, Ingtotine, Royal Blue, and many more.
They are typically found in candies, baked goods, puddings, bread, jams, deli meat, sherbet, sorbet, fast food, ice cream, condiments, frostings, and energy bars.
6. BHA and BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are commonly used preservatives designed to extend shelf life by preventing oxidation.
Being oxidants, they are shown to create cancer-causing compounds in the body. BHA is considered potentially carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.
These ingredients are found in cereals, hot dogs, meat patties, potato chips, vegetable oils, beer, butter, sausage, and chewing gum.
7. Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate
These chemicals are used to preserve meat as they are quickly converted to nitrosamines, which are linked to an increased risk of various cancers. According to a 2007 analysis by The World Cancer Research Fund, eating 1.8 oz of processed meat daily increases risk cancer by up to 20 percent.
These ingredients are also known under the names of Chile saltpeter and soda niter, and are found in bacon, salami, ham, corned beef, hot dogs, Pate, canned meat, smoked salmon, jerky, dried fish, and cured meats.
8. Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromated is a form of bromide and is used to increase the volume of flours, rolls, and breads.
This ingredient has been shown to cause cancer in animals and since 1991 the FDA has requested bakers to stop using it!
It is also known as potassium salt, bromated flour, “enriched flour.”, and bromic acid. You can find it in most baked goods, including Sunbeam, Home Pride, and Wonder Bread.
9. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
This is a genetically-engineered version of growth hormones produced by cows. “rBGH milk” is packed with insulin-like growth factor, which has been shown to cause breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Feeding cows with this hormone has been found to increase the risk of mastitis, antibiotic resistance, and spread of infections like MRSA.
This ingredient is also known as Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) and is found in all dairy products, with an exception of those labeled “No rGBH or rBST.”
10. Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils are highly processed oils which are typically bleached and deodorized. Consequently, they are deprived of the vitamins and minerals found in the seeds, creating a product which goes rancid quickly.
They are packed with omega-6 fats, which diminish the effects of omega-3 fats, increase inflammation in the body, lead to impaired insulin response, and cause DNA damage. Most of the refined vegetable oils are hydrogenated, which means that they increase the risk of heart disease and various cancers.