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Top 10 Most Toxic Food Additives

Top 10 Most Toxic Food Additives to Avoid and Why

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! This week we will discuss the top 10 most toxic food additives and why we should avoid them.

Food additives are used to enhance the flavor, appearance and texture, or extend the shelf life of a product. Some food additives have been associated with dangerous health effects and should be avoided.

Many of the foods on our shelves need little to no preparation before it is ready to eat. These convenient foods contain additives that are known to harm the human body. 

Most of the ingredients that you should avoid fall in one of three areas: food additives, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors.

Top 10 Most Toxic Food Additives

  1. Sodium Nitrate

  2. Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (PHO)

  3. Yellow #5 and Yellow #6

  4. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

  5. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

  6. Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)

  7. Blue #1 and Blue #2

  8. Sodium Phosphate

  9. Red #3 and Red #40

  10. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch.

Sodium Nitrate

What is it?

Sodium nitrate is a food additive commonly used as a preservative and color fixative in cured meats and poultry. Sodium nitrate is used to prevent bacterial growth and maintain the pinkish color.

What is it found in?

Sodium nitrate is used in bacon, beef jerky, ham, hot dogs, sausage, salami, and smoked fish.

Why should you avoid it?

Sodium nitrate can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Sodium nitrate has been linked to the development of heart disease and diabetes. Sodium nitrate can damage cells and morph into molecules that cause cancer.

hand holding a muffin
Photo by Daniela Crucez.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

What is it?

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (PHO) is a vegetable oil that is solid at room temperature. This is made by forcing hydrogen gas into vegetable fats under extremely high pressure. This fat is low cost and has a long shelf life. 

What is it found in?

PHO can be found in commercial baked goods, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, nondairy creamers, fast food items, and soups.

Why should you avoid it?

PHO contains trans fat that can raise cholesterol and result in health complications. PHO can promote heart disease and heart attacks.

four lollipops
Photo by alleksana.

Yellow #5 and Yellow #6

What is it?

Yellow #5, also known as Tartrazine, is one of the most commonly used food dyes in the U.S. Yellow #6, also known as Sunset Yellow, is a food dye commonly used in drug dosage forms. Both dyes are produced from petroleum products.

What is it found in?

Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 are found in candy, ice cream, chips, soda, condiments, and cereal.

Why should you avoid them?

Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 contain cancer-causing contaminants. Both dyes are linked to learning and concentration disorders in children.

toast with butter
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole

What is it?

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a food additive used as an antioxidant in products that contain fats or oils. BHA is used to preserve these fats and oils.

What is it found in?

BHA is found in butter, beer, vegetable oils, nut products, and crackers.

Why should you avoid it?

BHA has been linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity. BHA is listed in California’s Proposition 65 as a possible carcinogen. BHA can cause cancer.

hand holding a potato chip
Photo by Tim Samuel.

Monosodium Glutamate

What is it?

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive. 

What is it found in?

MSG is found in ketchup, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, salad dressings, mustard, chili, and chips.

Why should you avoid it?

MSG has been associated with various forms of toxicity. MSG has been linked with obesity, metabolic disorders, and neurotoxic and detrimental effects on the reproductive organs.

bowl of cereal with milk
Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene

What is it?

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a lab-made chemical food additive used as a preservative.

What is it found in?

BHT is found in frozen foods, cereal, dried and processed meat, rice products, and potato flakes.

Why should you avoid it?

BHT consumption can cause enlargements in the liver, inflammatory effects in the lungs, renal dysfunction, and a decrease in potassium levels.

blue lollipop
Photo by Somben Chea.

Blue #1 and Blue #2

What is it?

Blue #1, also known as Brilliant Blue, is an artificial blue dye commonly used in food. Blue #2, also known as Indigotine, is a synthetic version of indigo made from petroleum products.

What is it found in?

Blue #1 and Blue #2 are found in jelly, candy, beverages, condiments, canned peas, and baked goods.

Why should you avoid them?

Blue #1 and Blue #2 are linked to brain cancer and can cause hypersensitivity reactions.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva.

Sodium Phosphate

What is it?

Sodium phosphate is a food additive that intensifies flavors, keeps meats moist and tender, and prevents crystals from forming in canned tuna. 

What is it found in?

Sodium phosphate is found in fast food, deli meat, processed meat, canned tuna, and baked goods. 

Why should you avoid it?

High levels of sodium phosphate consumption can cause kidney damage and possibly death.

hand holding a red drink
Photo by Egecan Köse.

Red #3 and Red#40

What is it?

Red #3, also known as Erythrosine, is a synthetic dye. Red #40, also known as Allura Red, is an azo dye. Red #40 is the most commonly used food dye in the U.S.

What is it found in?

Red #3 and Red #40 are used in cereal, soda, pudding, frozen yogurt, baked goods, maraschino cherries, fruit juices, and chocolate candy.

Why should you avoid them?

Red #3 and Red #40 have been linked to allergy development, neurobehavioral effects, aggression, and mental disorders in children.

lemon lime soda
Photo by Tara Winstead.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

What is it?

Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is a food additive used to keep citrus flavoring from separating in sodas and other beverages. Bromine itself is a flame retardant used in rocket fuel. 

What is it found in?

BVO is found in Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fresca, Fanta, Powerade, and pre-mixed cocktails.

Why should you avoid it?

BVO can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. These include the moist lining of the nose, mouth, lungs, and stomach. High levels of BVO consumption can cause headaches, memory loss, and impaired balance or coordination.

Be the Change with BeachCandy Swimwear 

Here at BeachCandy we strive to do better each season. And after almost 12 years in business, we are working towards being the change we wish to see in our world. We are currently working towards a natural fiber future to end our toxic relationship with synthetic fabrics. Join us in our journey to a cleaner brand and planet.

Check out our most recent Wellness Wednesday blog: 5 Top Ecological Projects from Around the World.

Shop our historic swim sale as we will be discontinuing all current BeachCandy styles and designs. 

Written by Emma Suarez.

Follow BeachCandy Swimwear On Instagram

This blog provides general information and discussions about wellness and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This blog does not constitute the practice of any medical, nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. We cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions or make specific treatment recommendations through this blog or website.

Suggestions of changes to diet or exercise may not be suitable for everyone. Please consult with your doctor before attempting any changes to decide whether or not such changes would be right for you.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials.
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