7 Horrible Food Ingredients You Should Absolutely Never Eat

Food Label

Not long ago, a seemingly radical idea arrived at the grocery store – the mandatory nutrition information label. Designed to help consumers get a clearer picture of what exactly was in their food, the idea essentially legislated food processors into being more transparent about their ingredients. Instead however, we got a lot of confusion as Big Food found ways to put questionable substances and suspected carcinogens in plain sight, right there on the nutrition label! Buried in the small print, with abbreviations and chemical chart names only a Stephen Hawking would understand, consumers were left little more enlightened than they were before mandatory labeling. To help unravel the label gibberish, here are the 7 ingredients you should always leave behind on the supermarket shelf:

1. Aspartame

If it says Equal or NutraSweet on the box, don’t put it in your cart. It’s a chemical sweetener that’s loaded with phenylalanine, which in high doses is a neurotoxin which many scientists believe can alter brain function, cause behavioral changes in adults and even mental retardation in growing fetuses when used by mothers-to-be. If that weren’t enough, side effects can also include headaches, seizures, menstrual problems and gastro-intestinal distress.

2. BHA and BHT

These two similar chemicals are used to prevent oil-containing foods from going rancid. A seemingly admirable enough use. However, they also come with some serious concerns – they’re known carcinogens, having caused cancer in lab rats, mice, and hamsters. Avoid BHA and BHT at all costs.

3. Food Coloring

Designed to make foods more attractive, food coloring has an ugly side: caramel coloring manufacturing involves the use of industrial solvents and carcinogens. Red dye number 3 is associated with tumor development. Red dye 40 and Yellow 6 are closely associated with aggressive behaviors and impulse control problems in children. I say, stay far away.

4. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is a chemically created, flavor-enhancing protein substance that’s similar to MSG, but whitewashed a bit with a healthier sounding name. The problem with HVP is that it contains hidden MSG, so you can still wind up sickening yourself with headaches, migraines, heart irregularities and so on. Two more members of the MSG family to avoid: autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed yeast extract – they too can make sensitive types feel awful.

5. Parabens

Parabens are chemical preservatives most commonly found in cosmetics and beauty products, but oddly enough, they’re also found in many baked goods, like breads, cakes, pies, pastries, cereals and some processed meats. Designed to inhibit mold growth, there’s evidence to suggest that parabens in food may play a contributing role in hormone-related problems in women, such as breast cancer, and reduced testosterone levels in men. My advice? Steer clear.

6. Partially Hydrogenated Oil

Partially hydrogenated oil and trans-fat are essentially one in the same; And most folks don’t realize that a product can claim “0g trans fat” as long as there is less than ½ gram per serving, so if you see it on the label, don’t buy it (even if it says trans fat free). Case closed. Sure the stuff makes your food less likely to spoil, but it clogs your arteries, raises bad cholesterol and lowers the good cholesterol and who needs that?

7. Nitrites

Left unadulterated, meat will start to spoil and look pretty unappetizing quickly. Add some refrigeration and a layer of nitrites, and the shelf life, not to mention the fresh-looking red color, lengthens significantly. But what happens to the nitrates when humans ingest it? Well, not only can nitrites trigger headaches and allergic reactions, research indicates that a daily habit of nitrate-laden cured meats can increase risk of cancerous tumors. While I don’t recommend eating foods with nitrites, if it’s unavoidable, then start you meal with antioxidants Vitamin C and E to protect your body. (Note: Naturally occurring nitrites, like those in some vegetables don’t cause health woes, so feel free to eat your veggies!)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT BONUS:

While carefully reading labels can help you make somewhat better choices, here’s a more radical and much simpler approach: stop buying foods with labels on them and make the switch to whole, natural, organic or local, grower-to-table foods. You’ll get exactly what your body needs and virtually none of the dangerous additives your body is better off without.

For more ideas on how to treat your body to additive free foods, take a look at my top 9 Superfoods.

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  • Madeline Hildreth, DC

    1. Aspartame
    If it says Equal or NutraSweet on the box, don’t put it in your cart. It’s a chemical sweetener that’s loaded with phenylketonuria (PKU) which many scientists believe can alter brain function, cause behavioral changes in adults and even mental retardation in growing fetuses when used by mothers-to-be. If that weren’t enough, side effects can also include headaches, seizures, menstrual problems and gastro-intestinal distress.

  • Madeline Hildreth, DC

    Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a genetic disorder that renders the liver unable to metabolize phenylalanine.

  • Luh Diah Pusparinirini

    Better we consume fresh food not in canes with contain many substances as your articles, before we are cooking directly frash meat or vegetables from food market same as take fresh fruits

  • Loryn

    Phenylketonuria (PKU) is not an ingredient it is a genetic disorder test for at birth. Proof reading before posting is very important as you do have many loyal followers.

  • bob

    If all these items are so harmful why hasn’t the F.D.A. stepped in?????

  • Regina

    My daughter has had PKU since birth. In her case it’s a blood disorder which has to much protein in her blood, she can’t eat any protein at all and can cause mental and physical problems.

  • Thank you for the correction, you’re right. Phenylalanine is the ingredient and can affect people with PKU. Appreciate your response!

  • Jenny Sansouci

    Hi, thank you for your correction, you’re right. Phenylalynine is the ingredient that affects people with PKU. Appreciate your response!

  • Anonymous

    Hi, thank you for your correction, you’re right. Phenylalynine is the ingredient that affects people with PKU. Appreciate your response!

  • Pretty simple – “follow the money”.

  • msg60

    Really??? Are you that naive??

  • zimmer
  • Helen Elias

    msg60, bob is just trying to learn and you insulted him for asking a questions …to try to make yourself look better. Let me tell you something . It makes you look uglier.

  • nativam

    Thanks, her two comments contradict each other and left my mind spinning. But your statement, “it(sic) is a genetic disorder test for at birth” is bad grammar following faulty punctuation. You didn’t proof read either. But I could make sense of what you meant, so thanks.

  • j

    phenylalanine is an essential amino acid

  • j

    phenylalanine is an essential amino acid

  • Ucleden

    Quote from Sciencebasedmedice.com :

    Aspartame has been found to be safe for human consumption by the regulatory agencies of more than ninety countries worldwide, with FDA officials describing aspartame as “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved” and its safety as “clear cut.”

    When the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food evaluated aspartame, they found over 500 papers on aspartame published between 1988 and 2001. It has been studied in animals, in various human populations including infants, children, women, obese adults, diabetics, and lactating women. Numerous studies have ruled out any association with headaches, seizures, behavior, cognition, mood, allergic reactions, and other conditions. It has been evaluated far more extensively than any other food additive.

    When new rat studies by the Ramazzini Foundation in Italy appeared to show an association with tumors, the European Food Safety Authority examined Ramazzini’s raw data and found errors that made them discredit the studies. Their updated opinion based on all the data available in 2009 said there was no indication of any genotoxic or carcinogenic potential of aspartame and that there was no reason to revise their previously established ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) for aspartame of 40 mg/kg/day. Studies have shown that actual consumption is well below that limit.

    People who are absolutely convinced they get adverse effects from aspartame have been proven wrong. For instance, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of people who reported having headaches repeatedly after consuming aspartame. When they knew what they were consuming, 100% of them had headaches. In a double blind crossover trial, when they didn’t know what they were getting, 35% had headaches after aspartame, and 45% had headaches after placebo.

  • Ucleden