I’d like to first state that I truly do believe that we owe a lot to science when it comes to the preservation and flavor enhancements of our food. But some of the advancements in food science, in the name of “progress”, can actually end up hurting us. I’ll be the first to admit that I occasionally rely on the convenience of packaged foods and don’t plan on drastically changing that, but I am talking about repeated reliance on processed, pre-packaged foods that can lead to an overexposure to unnatural and unnecessary chemicals.
While some packaged foods on the market today are admirably full of healthful ingredients (like my favorite new discovery, NatureBox snacks,) many more are filled with chemical additives, preservatives and sweeteners that have been linked to health and behavioral problems ranging from diabetes and heart disease to ADHD and even autism.
Here are 6 of the worst offenders:
1. Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate
Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring in bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, corned beef, smoked fish, and other processed meats. This ingredient has been found to form nitrosamines, some of which are human carcinogens—studies have shown an increased risk of rectal, esophageal, and gastric cancers and consumption of foods containing nitrates/nitrites. There is also a link between increased nitrates and Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
Commonly found in diet or sugar-free sodas, sugar-free gum, drink mixes, table top sweeteners, breath mints, ice tea, and even toothpaste, some of the documented effects of consuming artificial sweeteners include behavioral problems, hyperactivity, allergies, and possibly carcinogenic effects. The use of any artificial sweetener by children and pregnant women is not recommended, as the lasting effects are not well studied.
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrées, lunch meats, seasonings, and many restaurant foods. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance that overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects, which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity.
4. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) & Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
BHA and BHT are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor, or becoming rancid. It has been shown to affect the nervous system, alter behavior, and has the potential to cause cancer.
5. Hydrogenated Fats/Trans Fats
Hydrogenated oils are used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products. They are found in deep-fried fast foods and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Numerous studies show that trans fat increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes; and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes, and other health problems.
6. Artificial Food Colorings
Artificial food colorings used to dye icing, candies, yogurt, cereal, and macaroni and cheese have been linked to many health risks, with children being more vulnerable than adults. Risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. Despite these concerns, about 15 million pounds of these petroleum-based dyes continue to be used in food each year in the United States.
Avoid products that contain names with numbers. Make sure to read labels and pass on products listing Red No. 3, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5, Yellow No. 6, Citrus Red No. 2, Green No. 3, Blue No. 1, and Blue No. 2.
Those are six of the worst food additives out there that you should try to avoid….but don’t forget to cut back on sugar and salt, which cause more harm than all the other additives combined.
If you’re like me and you really want to avoid unhealthy food additives but just aren’t sure what to put in their place, I have a great idea to share with you today! They’re called NatureBoxes and they’re chock full of nutritionist-approved, healthy snacks! Such a great thing for a snacker like me!
I was introduced to NatureBox snacks when I attended BlogHer ’13 last summer. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry for a snack, I usually end up reaching for something that’s not entirely healthy because I don’t have any healthy options on hand. NatureBox solves this problem by delivering a new shipment of unique, healthy snacks straight to your door every month.
Every box comes with at least five large packs of snacks ranging from dark cocoa almonds to guacamole bites. I think my favorite so far have been the peanut butter nom noms, (trust me, they live up to their name!) but I love discovering treats I’ve never tried before each time a new box arrives!
And NatureBox nutritionists have ensured the snacks contain no high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, or artificial flavors.
Another thing I like….they donate one meal for every box they sell. The meals, provided through food banks across the United States, go towards feeding the 14 million children who live in hunger.
We get healthy treats, hungry children get meals. That is one good thing indeed!
Whether you’re trying to avoid harmful food additives, or you just like delicious, nutritious snacks (like me!)….NatureBox is well worth a try.
Here are a couple of ways you can give them a try:
Promotion is good for 50% off any of our 3 box sizes. Valid only on the 1st month’s box. New customers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.
This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.