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The Most Common Food Additives: Which Ones to Avoid and Why

Here in the U.S. and around the world, food additives are a dangerous and unfortunate way of life. They’ve been used for many generations to keep food from spoiling as fast and to enhance the colors and flavors of food. But with so much of the American diet centered on processed food, many families are eating just as many additives as actual food.

Here are some of the most common additives that are found in modern food and which ones should be avoided as much as possible.

Artificial Sweeteners

Think twice next time you see those little blue and pink packets sitting next to the creamer in your favorite coffee shop. Artificial sweeteners made with aspartame are marketed as diet-friendly alternatives. However, studies have shown that aspartame may also be a carcinogen and cause a variety of adverse reactions. These include short-term memory loss, chronic fatigue, and even mental disorders. Avoid diet sodas and other foods and drinks that contain this food additive.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup

Many food additives add sweetness to make foods more appealing to the standard palate. One such additive is high fructose corn syrup, which is very high in calories and very common in processed foods. This additive increases the bad cholesterol in your body and contributes significantly to weight gain and obesity. It is commonly found in flavored yogurts, canned vegetables, and cereal.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Chinese food has been notorious for MSG, but this additive is also used to enhance flavor in soups, frozen entrees, and chips. This substance is known to damage cells and lead to a variety of negative side effects, such as headaches, depression, and weight gain.

Food Dyes

Colorful food might look fun and inviting, especially to kids, but all those colors may cause more harm than good. These additives have been linked to behavioral problems in children and reduce IQ rates. Dyes aren’t just used for Easter eggs either. They’re commonly found in candy, macaroni and cheese, and carbonated beverages. Some colored dyes seem to be more problematic than others, however. Ones to avoid include Blue #1 and #2, Red #3 and #40, and yellow #6.

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Sodium Nitrate

Sodium nitrate is often used as a preservative to keep the flavor inside processed meats. You’ll find this additive in packaged hot dogs and lunch meats, for example. Studies have linked this additive to cancer and organ damage in the human body.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole

Although there are many more food additives that have no nutritional value and are even potentially harmful, the last one we’ll mention here today is butylated hydroxyanisole. This additive is commonly used to preserve everything from potato chips to vegetable oil and chewing gym. It has been linked to brain damage and cancer in research studies and should be avoided as much as possible.

Choose Real Foods, Not Additives

Trying to cut food additives out of your life can seem overwhelming because so many foods contain them. The easiest way to avoid food additives is to focus your diet on fresh, organic, and whole foods that come from trusted sources. That’s why it is beneficial to shop at local farmer’s markets and buy your supplements and homeopathic remedies from people you can trust. Always read the labels of foods you buy and cook meals at home so that you get to choose each ingredient that goes into your family’s meals.

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