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.
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.
Next: Dyes and Colorings