7 Artificial Ingredients & Food Additives You Should Think Twice About

Written By John Richards on Sunday, July 29, 2012 | 2:44 AM

One of the things that scares me the most as a mom is how our food is modified with artificial ingredients and additives before it hits store shelves. There are so many harmful things that are injected into perfectly healthy food, rendering them unhealthy, before they are available to use for consumption. Despite research that links these ingredients to harmful side effects like tumors, cancer, ADHD and more, the FDA is refusing to completely ban them. So, the next best thing I can is do is to try my best to avoid them. Here are seven ingredients you should always try to avoid, or eat in severe moderation. I like to carry around a list of these preservatives to make sure they’re not in any of the ingredients lists of the foods I buy!

MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate)

MSG is a common food additive that is considered a neurotoxin because it can overstimulate cells to death. It is found in many everyday foods, including deli meats and salad dressings. Heed warnings about consuming too much of it, and know the symptoms to watch for if you do, such upset stomach 15 after consuming the MSG, headaches, and arm or leg weakness. You can help eliminate MSG from your own diet by making some simple foods, like salad dressings, from scratch. 


These additives are often added to food made with fats to prevent early spoilage and extend shelf-life. They are known to cause cancer in rats, and, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers both to be safe, they are toxic in large qualities. You can steer clear of this additive by choosing natural snack brands and making your own snacks, like potato chips, from scratch.

Sodium Nitrate

This salty food additive is often used to preserve meats and fatty foods. The Mayo Clinic warns that sodium nitrate could increase your heart disease risk. You can avoid stabilizers found in processed meats by making sandwiches using proteins like fresh chicken, which you can roast yourself. 

Artificial Food Dyes

Artificial food dyes have been linked to ADHD, cancer, and allergies in kids and adults. About 15 million pounds of eight specific synthetic dyes are put into our food each year. If you can, avoid eating artificially colored foods, like gummy bears, and learn how to make natural food dyes -- it's surprisingly easy. 

Propyl Gallate

This food preservative is often found in vegetable oils, meats, soups, chewing gum, and turkey stuffing. It is banned in Britain and several other countries have restricted its use. Some studies have shown that it may cause cancer in rats. In humans, propyl gallate has been linked to cases of skin irritability and stomach problems, as well as allergic reactions that impact breathing. To avoid it, cook with organic, grass-fed meat whenever possible.


Frequently cited as one of the most dangerous neurotoxins available, aspartame is found in many sugar-free foods and is used to artificially sweetened soda, candy, and a wide variety of diet food. It is linked to depression, fuzzy thinking, headaches, seizures, and cancer — specifically lymphoma and leukemia. Keep your cabinets clean of aspartame by avoiding "diet" foods and artificial sweeteners.

Potassium Bromate

This seemingly-harmless additive is often used in baked goods to achieve a higher rise and lighter crumb. It's use has been banned in Canada and Europe because of a potential cancer link. In the U.S., the FDA has encourages bakers to use other additives, although potassium bromate has not been banned. Check the labels when you shop for baked goods; many companies, including Arnold's, Pillsbury, and Pepperidge Farm are now bromate-free.You can also try getting the kids in the kitchen and making your own baked goods from scratch.

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