Verda Vivo

Verda Vivo means “Green Life” in the universal language of Esperanto.

12 Food Additives to Avoid July 16, 2009

Potato Chips

Thanks to Jean Wiess, regular contributor to MSN Health & Fitness, for compiling the following list of food additives that should be avoided. Seven of the twelve additives have been linked to an increased risk in cancer.

The best way to avoid these food additives is to avoid packaged foods and make it yourself. Prepared foods provide Questionable Convenience at best. They are more costly and do not provide significant time savings for the money. In addition, you could be exposing yourself and your family to these beauties:

  1. Sodium nitrite * – Commonly added to bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef to stabilize the red color and add flavor. Sodium nitrite is used primarily in fatty, salty foods. Without nitrite, hot dogs and bacon would look gray. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?
  2. BHA & BHT * –  Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are antioxidants used to preserve common household foods by preventing them from oxidizing. Both keep fats and oils from going rancid and are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration still permits BHA to be used in foods. This synthetic chemical can be replaced by safer chemicals (e.g., vitamin E), safer processes (e.g., packing foods under nitrogen instead of air), or can simply be left out (many brands of oily foods, such as potato chips, don’t use any antioxidant).
  3. Propyl gallate * – Prevents fats and oils from spoiling and is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. This additive is sometimes found in meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum.
  4. Monosodium glutamate – An amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and restaurant food. It is commonly associated with Asian foods and flavorings. The use of MSG allows companies to reduce the amount of real ingredients in their foods, such as chicken in chicken soup. Ingredients listed as “hydrolyzed soy protein” and “autolyzed yeast” may also contain MSG. Causes headaches and nausea in some people, and animal studies link it to damaging nerve cells in the brains of infant mice.
  5. Trans fats – Trans fats are created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil. These “partially hydrogenated oils” are used most often for deep-frying food, and in baked goods. Margarine and vegetable shortening may also be made with partially hydrogenated oil. Manufacturers have modified processed products to reduce trans fats. Restaurants, particularly fast food chains, still serve foods loaded with trans fats. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, and Red Lobster are some of the large chains that have largely eliminated trans fat or soon will. Trans fats are believed to increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  6. Aspartame * – Additive found in low-calorie desserts, gelatins, drink mixes, and soft drinks. Also known by the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal. Controversial since it was initially approved by the FDA in 1974. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest “lifelong consumption of aspartame probably increases the risk of cancer. People—especially young children—should not consume foods and beverages sweetened with aspartame”.
  7. Acesulfame-K * – Artificial sweetener found in soft drinks, baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends that people avoid use of acesulfame-K due to lack of testing concerns.
  8. Food colorings (Blue, Red, Green, Yellow) *Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, are considered low risk but have been linked to cancer in mice. Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats. Green 3, added to candy and beverages, though rarely used, has been linked to bladder cancer. Studies have linked the widely used yellow 6—added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy—to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. Artificial food color is also suspected of causing increased hyperactivity in children.
  9. Olestra – A synthetic fat that blocks absorption of fat in your digestive system. It also blocks the absorption of vitamins while in your system. Olestra enables manufacturers to offer greasy-feeling low-fat snacks, but consumers would be better off with baked snacks, which are safe and just as low in calories. Found in some brands of potato chips. Be prepared to wear a diaper if you eat a whole bag.
  10. Potassium bromate * – Additive to increase volume in white flour, breads, and rolls. Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States.
  11. White sugar – Too much sugar leads to problems with weight control, tooth decay and blood sugar levels in diabetics. It also replaces good nutrition.
  12. Sodium chloride (salt) – Excessive amounts of salt can affect cardiovascular function, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

* Linked to an increased risk of cancer.


  1. Center for Science in the Public Interest: Food Additives
  2. 12 Food Additives to Remove From Your Diet
  3. WebMD: The Truth About 7 Common Food Additives

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17 Responses to “12 Food Additives to Avoid”

  1. cheaplikeme Says:

    Nice list! MSG causes headaches and insanity in me …

  2. […] Vivo published a list of 12 food additives to avoid, from diaper-requiring Olestra to artery-clogging trans fats to a plethora of […]

  3. hokya Says:

    thanks for the list

  4. matt k Says:

    You forgot High Fructose Corn Syrup, the most notorious chemcial additive of all…

  5. Verda Vivo Says:

    Absolutely. I avoid HFCS like the plague!

  6. Lip Stain Says:

    Oh yes.I avoid the five whites too.Milk,egg,salt,sugar and refined flour.

  7. Micah Says:

    This is a great post.. Very informative… I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your every post that’s why I think I’d come here more often. Keep it up! By the way, you can also drop by my blogs. They’re about Vegetable Gardening and Composting. I’m sure you’d find my blogs helpful too.

  8. cpcable Says:

    Thanks for the short-list! In all honesty, it makes my head hurt to think about the specifics of all these additives and what they’re doing to my body. So, I just try to avoid all of them. I like things that don’t have ingredient lists. Like carrots.


  9. Thank you for this list. My new years resolution is to really eat healthy and be more proactive about saving the environment in my own way. I really admire you and thanks for putting this site.

  10. Magic Jack Internet Phone Says:

    Wow, what a great list. I used to eat whatever sounded good, l loved potato chips. I would eat bag after bag and never gave a thought of to what is used to make them. All the salt and fats I knew wasn’t good for me but until I came back from the DR. with high blood pressure medication I didn’t pay much attention. Anyway thanks for this list and explanations of these ingredients that food co. put in their products. You just can’t go by the label, you need to know what to watch out for, so thanks again.

  11. Andy Says:

    Thanks for all the great posts. Many of the advice are directly beneficiary to me, my family, my economy, AND the environment.

    Besides organic food, I believe organic clothing and interior decorating can also benefit our health and the environment. There are many nasty chemicals in clothing, shoes, furniture, electronics. I have heard that some European environmental agencies recommend that everything(!) you buy, should be left outside for 5 days to release the products’ toxic gasses

  12. Tandblekning Says:

    That’s why read the labels. Brown sugar is better than while sugar, choose all-natural or organic foods!

  13. Blanca Says:

    yes i have to agree with this list , although i did not know that lunch meats and hotdogs we so unhealthy for you . Professor boron has been teaching us to eat healthier and to work out every week even if we just walk. thank you for your helpful information.

  14. Healthy food Says:

    Hallo, great list not all so easy to avoid but it helps choosing.
    I know how importent it is to eat healty food. I was tired for years till i started to make and drink green smoothies with fruits and vegetables from the green shop. I and the rest of my family feel so much better.
    Again thanks for the list great post !
    green smoothie

  15. Goodness yes.I keep away from the five whites too.Milk,egg,salt,sugar and refined flour.

  16. You have great information and I love the way you put it all together…Thank you so much!!

  17. Pol Bishop Says:

    Great article, mate! I am researching various foods and their effects on human body and this will prove very helpful info. Thanks and keep up the good work!

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