As people become more educated about the foods that they are eating – and about the dangerous consequences of consuming processed foods with their plethora of chemical additives – it is becoming increasing clear that preservatives are of great concern. While these food additives benefit the food industry by lengthening shelf life, they unfortunately do not benefit the human body. Below are some of the preservatives to really watch out for.
This is an industrial food dye which is used to lend an attractive color to some sodas, candies, cereals – and even shampoos. However, its side effects are not nearly so attractive. Tartrazine has been linked to a variety of health problems include exacerbation of asthma, reduction in sperm count and even cancer. (1)
BHT stands for butylated hydroxytoluene, a real mouthful. It is a waxy, chemical substance which prevents food spoilage and is a common ingredient in many products like meats, potato chips, baked goods and cereals. It has been banned in Europe because of studies which have linked it to cancer and tumor formation. (2)
Arsenic is not deliberately added to foods. However, it can be found in various feeds and drugs given to domesticated animals, and if the manure from these animals is used for crop fertilizer (which is frequently is), the arsenic can enter into the food chain. Rice, produce, and meats like poultry and pork are particular vulnerable to this. (3)
This is a preservative as well as a bleaching agent used to give white flour its distinctive color, so it is also found in baked goods and pastries that have white flour in their ingredients. It has been linked with asthma development, a weakened immunity and disruption of the endocrine system which regulates hormones. (4)
Brominated Vegetable Oil
This chemically altered oil is popular as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, especially citrus-flavored drinks. However, it too can have serious health consequences if consumed, including cardiac and renal damage and elevated cholesterol levels, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. (5)
This common preservative is found in a variety of processed meats, especially hot dogs and lunch meats. It was linked to cancer cell growth as early as the 1970s but is still legal because of pressure put on the FDA by the meat industry.(6)
Read the food labels when shopping for the week. It will truly surprise many people how widespread some of these additives are, in spite of the fact that they have been linked to a variety of serious or even fatal health conditions. The best solution to this is to eat in the whole foods manner with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, make foods from scratch whenever possible and buy organic. These steps will go a long way to limiting exposure to these unhealthy chemicals.