(CBS Charlotte) — When you purchase packaged and/or processed foods at the grocery store, are you mindful about the added ingredients that food companies include in your food?
Food additives are extra ingredients that extend the shelf life of food products, in addition to “enhancing” the appearance and flavor of the food you eat. But, are these food additives harmful to your health?
The fast-paced culture in America contributes to our need to have everything immediately. Most American families today spend most of their grocery money on processed foods that contain harmful ingredients. Furthermore, in our country, we eat more processed foods than any other country in the world.
Not surprisingly, the United States has the highest rate of obesity in the entire world. For some reason, since so many Americans eat processed foods, having unhealthy substances added to our food has become acceptable. Very few Americans seem to question the use of these ingredients, or the potentially harmful effects they have on the human body.
Here are some food additives that are worth examining and avoiding whenever possible:
- Potassium Bromate — Potassium Bromate is typically found in products such as flour and various breads. This additive increases volume, but it has been linked to causing cancer in animals.
- Sulfur Dioxide — The FDA considers sulfur dioxide toxic, however, traces of the additive can still be found in packaged meats, vinegar, soft drinks, and dried fruit. Ingesting this additive can cause breathing difficulty, in addition to low blood pressure.
- BHA and BHT – Both of these additives are preservatives and can generally be found in products such as cooking oil, gum, chips, and cereal. These preservatives improve the shelf life of food products, however, these additives have been linked to behavioral changes, and may also cause cancer.
- Sodium Nitrate — This additive can be found in cold cuts, hot dogs, and a plethora of processed meats. Sodium Nitrate has carcinogenic properties and the compound can be extremely damaging to internal organs, such as your liver or pancreas. Sodium Nitrate is thought to be so harmful to your health that the USDA nearly succeeded in banning its use in the 1970′s — however, the USDA was outnumbered by the food industry and ultimately, sodium nitrate is still used in processed meats today.
- Food Dyes — Americans seem to have this notion that if a product is on store shelves, it must be safe for human consumption. Truth be told, this notion is far from reality — especially where food dyes are concerned. In fact, many popular food dyes have been banned in many other countries due to their damaging effects on the body. Certain food dyes, such as Blue #1 and Blue #2 have been linked to chromosomal damage. Other dyes are thought to cause behavioral problems in children, in addition to reducing your IQ.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup — This additive occupies the bulk of calories that Americans consume on a daily basis. Consuming High Fructose Corn Syrup alters your good and bad cholesterol levels, in addition to contributing to weight gain and the development of diabetes.
- Aspartame and Artificial Sweeteners –Artificial sweeteners are sold in stores throughout the country under brand names such as Nutrasweet and Equal. Aspartame also has carcinogenic properties and accounts for more adverse food reactions than any other food product sold on store shelves. Consuming artificial sweeteners can lead to neorological health issues, in addition to brain tumors and various diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s and lymphoma.
While it’s probably not feasible to eliminate these substances from your diet completely, it is wise to reduce the frequency that you consume these products. Consuming these food additives sparingly, will reduce the likelihood of developing adverse health conditions associated with these substances.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte