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13 Scary Food Additives to Avoid

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13 Scary Food Additives to Avoid

Most of the processed foods we eat are studded with mysterious additives. They extend shelf life. They create exciting flavors, colors and textures. But they don’t do great things for our health. Find out which ones to avoid, and why.

Artificial Sweeteners

Acesulfame-K: Used in candies, baked goods, chewing gum, dry beverage mixes, canned fruit, gelatin desserts, diet soda, and as a tabletop sweetener under the brand names Sunette and Sweet One. About 200 times sweeter than sugar, acesulfame-K was tested for safety in the 1970s. The tests were not conducted with gold-standard protocols; however, two rat studies suggested that the chemical could cause cancer. In addition, large doses of a breakdown product from this chemical affected the thyroid in test animals.

Aspartame: Used in breakfast cereals, soft drinks, drink mixes, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, yogurt, chewing gum, diet foods, and as a tabletop sweetener under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet. Used in more than 6,000 products worldwide, aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Studies have suggested that it might cause cancer — especially with lifelong consumption — or neurological problems. Aspartame also lowers the acidity of urine and may make the urinary tract more susceptible to infection.

Read more about why you should avoid aspartame here.

Saccharin: Used in many diet products as well as a tabletop sweetener under the brand name Sweet’N Low. About 350 times sweeter than sugar, saccharin has been shown in animal studies to cause bladder cancer; rodent studies indicate that saccharin can cause cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels and more. A major study conducted by the National Cancer Institute found that the artificial sweeteners saccharin and cyclamate are associated with higher incidence of bladder cancer. In 1977 the FDA wanted to ban saccharin; however, industry pressure has kept it in circulation.

Directory of Natural Sweeteners

Next: Dyes and Colorings

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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8:15AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012


7:00AM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Thank you!

4:07PM PST on Jan 6, 2012

Good simple information.

3:34PM PST on Nov 28, 2011

There are more very common ingredients to beware of.
See and click on "bad ingredients."
It takes you right to the proof/studies/MSDS safety data sheets of the ingredients.

1:50AM PST on Nov 12, 2011

Thanks for the info.

10:43AM PST on Nov 7, 2011

scarey stuff is right. Thanks for this info

11:16PM PST on Nov 6, 2011

Very informative and interesting article but as some other commenters have noted, NO mention of HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT or SUGAR, ALL of which can be very unhealthy or even dangerous!! SALT in excess can lead to or aggravate high blood pressure, that can KILL you, and SUGAR in excess can cause inflammation conditions which are the root of many disorders. HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP is just CRAP that is even cheaper than sugar and is highly inflammatory and risky stuff!!! STEVIA is a great natural sweetener that comes from a plant, you can just chew the leaves and they are toot sweet! Its easy to reduce salt intake, just use less and less over time and your taste buds will adjust well. Try using herbs as flavor enhancers too, they are terrific!! Of course making your own food
from whole sources is more work, but it can be enjoyable and taste even better than premade junk that contains all the garbage in this article and more!! Cheap health insurance!!

10:08AM PDT on Nov 2, 2011

You forgot to mention the coloring red 40, which has been found to increase activity level in children. When my daughter has red 40, it intensifies her emotions and makes her go out of control. I'm very happy to see that more and more mainstream food companies are using natural dyes.

10:15PM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

it amazes me what is put and engineered into our family goes as natural and wholesome as possible

11:53PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thank-you for this informative post! I've bookmarked it and intend to share with family and friends.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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