Food is the 2nd most important need for humans, after oxygen. We ingest it several times a day, because it comes with vital nutrients, which give us energy and strength for performing our daily routine. With global population increasing day by day, our stores end up with larger quantities of preserved nourishment. Natural or synthetic substances, known as food additives, are added to many popular foods in order to extend their validity, improve taste, flavor, color or texture. These additives are printed on the food labels and are directly named or have specific code numbers.
In the United States the additives are directly printed on the product labels. However, if you plan to travel or live outside of the US, you should know that these added ingredients are popularly known as E numbers in the European Union or A numbers in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, the FDA also assigned additives with code numbers, but they aren’t used on the labels. In US these code figures are U numbers.
Before sharing the list with 7 of the most dangerous food additives, I would like to underline that not all preservatives are harmful. Natural and chemical additives have been successful used for centuries, in pickles for example, a process where vinegar is used to preserve vegetables. Salting is yet another natural process of preserving meat, like bacon. A chemical named, sulfur dioxide is added to wine for storing it over the years.
The health dangers and side effects debate is caused by the synthesized additives. Even the manmade ones aren’t harmful because they can be nature-identical and have the same chemical structure as a natural substance. However, the artificial ones have a totally different composition from any natural substance and can have a negative impact on our health.
7 Food Additives That You Should Avoid
It’s recommended to check the food labels whenever you buy nourishment and inform yourself about the preservatives contained by a certain product. I recommend you to avoid foods which contain the following artificial additives:
1. Tartazine (FDA: FD&C Yellow #5, EU: E102, AUS & NZ: A102): is a yellow food coloring. It’s suspected to enhance the chances of growing cancerous cells. Children have a higher risk of developing asthma, rhinitis and rushes. Countries like Switzerland, France, Norway and Finland have banned it. It’s found in candies, biscuits, salami and sausages, sauces and alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages.
2. Sunset Yellow (FDA: FD&C Yellow #6; EU: E110, AUS&NZ: A110): is a yellow and orange food dye. Lab test on rats have proven that it has a carcinogenic effect. It can cause kidney and adrenal gland tumors. Other side effects include allergies, nasal congestion, vascular spasms and stomach pain. It’s found in puddings, rolls, apricot jam, ice cream, soups, souces and others.
3. Amaranth (FDA: Red #2[DELISTED]; EU: E123, AUS&NZ: DELISTED): is a red color food dye, banned in several countries including the US because of its oncogenic effect. It can lead to eczema, asthma attacks, ADHD syndrome. It’s found in vanilla pudding, sauces, fish fingers, jellies, candies, mints, melted cheese and cheese creams.
4. Diphenyl (FDA: preservative; EU: E230; AUS&NZ: A230): is a preservative banned in the European Union due to its carcinogenic and toxic properties. It can cause allergies, nausea, vomiting, eye irritation and hormonal disorders. It’s used for citrus fruits treatment. Eat only peeled citrus!
5. Potassium Nitrite (FDA: preservative, color fixative; EU: E249; AUS&NZ: A249): is a preservative and a color fixative. It’s added to salami and sausages, cheese, food preserved through salting. If consumed in excess it causes side effects like: vertigo, nausea and headaches. It can also lead to thyroid disorders by disturbing the metabolism of iodine.
6. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (FDA: flavour enhancer; EU: E621; AUS&NZ: A621): is a flavor enhancer used in take-out foods, instant soups, chips, fizzy drinks, sausaces, chewing-gum, spices and skim milk. It has neurotoxic side effects and can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea and irregular heartbeats if consumed in large quantities.
7. Aspartame (MSG) (FDA: artificial sweetener; EU: E951; AUS&NZ: A951): is an artificial sweeter found in snacks, beverages, sweets and diet specific foods, low in sugar. The main side effect are headaches.
How To Successfully Avoid Food Additives
The most natural and easy way to avoid harmful additives is to try to include as much fresh food as possible, in your diet. Go for fresh vegetables and fruits, go organic! Opt for unprocessed meat and diary products. If possible, favor the foodstuff that specifically claims on the label that they where manufactured without the help of preservatives and dyes!