Most of us scan the ingredients on a food package fairly quickly when we’re out shopping. After all, we have other things to do! Even though we think we know what we’re reading, there could be unhealthy contents of a product that manage to fly under the radar.
It’s important to know what the ingredients are, especially if you have a health condition that could be triggered by them.
1. Hidden Sugars
Too much sugar, of course, can be a problem for anyone—whether you’re diabetic, or trying to control your weight. However, while sugar might be listed fourth or fifth on a label, lulling you into a false sense that there’s not a lot of sugar in the product, take another look.
2. Sodium Benzoate
This is a preservative to help inhibit the growth of mold in soda, but benzene “ is a known carcinogen that is also linked with serious thyroid damage.”
The source explains that “dangerous levels” of this preservative (and its close cousin potassium benzoate) can build up if the product is exposed to heat, or when the ingredients are mixed with Vitamin C. It’s best to avoid these products altogether.
3. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
The additive MSG has been linked to many minor ailments from headaches to nausea, but you won’t have any idea you’re eating it when MSG isn’t directly printed on the label. It says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require manufacturers to disclose MSG if it’s a by-product of another ingredient.
4. Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate
There’s some good news and bad news with sodium nitrite, so in keeping with tradition, we’ll give you the bad news first. Older studies show that this additive—which is effective in protecting meats from going rancid, and also helping keep harmful bacteria like listeria at bay
5. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
This preservative Is a potential cancer-causer, although it says the FDA has approved it. Its main purpose is to help you not get food poisoning, which seems minor in comparison to the potential risks.
The source says it’s literally found in hundreds of foods (from ice cream to cereal), and can be disguised as other names, including BHT.
6. Food Coloring
Apparently even some of the additives meant to give foods a certain color can have a negative impact on your health. The top-5 worst food coloring to watch out for include Blue 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.
Some of these additives have been banned in other countries (apparently some contain benzene that has been removed from gasoline, but not food), and can be carcinogenic.
7. Potassium Bromate
Although this additive has been banned in many countries including Canada, Europe and China and in some part of Africa.The ingredient has apparently been linked to cancer in mice, but some sources note it’s only a real problem if the bread is not baked properly, as the bromate tends to dissipate in the baking process.