Saccharin

Food Additives. Say that ten times fast and the absurdity becomes even more obvious. If something truly is food, then why does it need any additives? There are plenty of excuses—from preservation to enhanced flavor—all equally as unfounded as the practice of adulterating food in the first place. Yet there seems to be no end in sight to the science of tinkering with food, even as research links more and more additives to health and environmental risks. Here are the worst offenders.

HFCS: High Fructose Corn Syrup (or “Corn Sugar” if you’re a corn industry lobbyist) replaced sugar in sodas and snack foods some 30 years ago just as incidences of obesity and type II diabetes began to rise. The corn syrup industry will tell you that the body cannot recognize the difference between HFCS and other sugars, but don’t take the risk, unless the research doesn’t convince you.

Artificial Sweeteners: So you’ve made the decision to start avoiding HFCS. Congratulations. But don’t celebrate with a Diet Coke. Those artificial sweeteners (Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose) with healthy sounding names like NutraSweet or Equal are highly processed chemicals that can actually have a negative effect on your metabolism and have been linked to cases of cancer, tinnitus, headaches and neurological disorders.

Benzoate Preservatives: Freshness is important, especially as we throw away hundreds of millions of tons of food every year—nearly 40 percent of the world’s food supply goes uneaten (really!). But preservatives like BHT, BHA and TBHQ can throw off estrogen levels in women, lead to behavioral issues, allergies, asthma, cancer and other serious illnesses.

Hydrogenated Oils: Used to stabilize products intended to sit on shelves for long periods of time and to produce a consistent, unnatural flavor, trans fats are created in a lab for a fraction of the cost of natural oils or fats. They’re also known to raise bad cholesterol levels while decreasing healthy levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

MSG and artificial flavors: Monosodium glutamate is found in lots of restaurant food, snacks, frozen and canned goods and can often be labeled as “natural flavor,” but its effects are anything but natural: headaches, nausea, allergies and rapid heart rate. Other artificial flavors are also linked to health risks such as thyroid disorders, allergies and behavioral issues.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fructose-corn-syrup/AN01588

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/artificial-sweeteners

http://blog.foodfacts.com/index.php/2011/05/11/bht/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/msg_qa-qr-eng.php

http://life.gaiam.com/article/10-worst-food-additives-where-they-lurk

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