Weekly Clincial Service Dose: 5 Food Additives You Should Avoid
Processed food, hidden dangers
Food that is processed has been changed, in some way, from its natural state.
It is often more convenient and less expensive.
Processed foods have often have been treated with additives – substances that add color, enhance flavor or increase shelf life, they are not all bad.
Some foods need them to prevent the food from spoiling and preserve their nutritional value.
Consuming small amounts of additives may be safe, but the health risks add up if you rely heavily on processed foods.
A diet rich in processed foods has been linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
Additives to think twice about
- Sodium nitrites. These additives help stabilize, color and flavor meat, and prevent harmful bacterial growth. But when meat is heated at high temperatures or combined with stomach acid, sodium nitrite produces nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are linked to an increased risk of pancreatic and colorectal cancer.
- Sulfites. Sulfites are a preservative many people are sensitive to that can severely Aggravate Asthma Their use on fresh fruits and vegetables is banned in the United States, but sulfites are present in other foods. (Avoid products listing sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, sodium bisulfite or sodium sulfite on the label.)
- Trans fats. The FDA has banned Trans Fats in food because they increase the risk of Heart Disease. Manufacturers use these partially hydrogenated oils to improve the shelf life and consistency of cookies, crackers and other packaged foods.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG). This enhances flavor and texture in foods, soups and in other processed foods. People sensitive to MSG can experience nausea, breathing problems and other reactions. MSG adds extra sodium that can also elevate Blood Pressure.
- FD&C yellow no. 5 and no. 6. These artificial coloring agents, used in candy and cereal, can cause severe allergic reactions in those with asthma. Some research also suggests a link with hyperactivity in children, but this has not been proven
How to avoid unhealthy additives
To be safe, it’s wise to choose foods that are in their natural state and color. The best way to eat healthy is to:
- Look to the farm. Fill up on fresh foods and minimize processed foods. Shop at your local farmer’s market or sign up for community-supported agriculture deliveries of fresh produce.
- Do frozen if you can’t do fresh.
- Be your own chef. Cook your own meals so you know what you’re eating. Avoid prepackaged, precooked meals.
- Read the Label. Check the list of ingredients before adding food to your grocery cart. Don’t buy products with known additives, and beware of any ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Have a question? Contact us at AskANurse@DirectPathHealth.com