WHAT Are We Eating? The 5 Most Toxic Food Additives & How to Avoid Them

Country Mouse City Spouse: WHAT Are We Eating? The 5 Most Toxic Food Additives & How to Avoid Them

WHAT Are We Eating?

The 5 Most Toxic Food Additive & How to Avoid Them

Country Mouse City Spouse

Pick up just about any box or package of food in your kitchen and you will see that lovely daunting nutrition label looking back up at you. We all know how to count calories and how to see how big a serving size is (even if we do not stick to it) but have you ever read through that list of actual ingredients that most of us cannot pronounce and actually wonder, “What IS that?”

I know a lot of people I speak to about my garden seem to view it as a way to be more frugal and save on food costs to their household.  While this is a very big selling point, it is not the only reason that I have such an immense garden each year.  I love the fact that I actually know and have to apply every chemical that touches my food, so I can choose what I put on my family’s plates.

Seed of the Month Club: Get Started Growing Your Own Organic Vegetables!

But if growing your own is not an option, I want to help you to learn what to look for and avoid when you are reading labels at the store.  Just avoiding these 5 food additives can make a huge difference in the health of your family!

Artificial Sweeteners

AKA: Acesulfame Potassium/Acesulfame-K
Sugar Alcohols

Granted, we do want to reduce our sugar intake considering that according to the USDA is crazy high.  The recommended amount of sugar per person daily is approximately 40g- which is one can of soda.  Imagine having 1 can of soda and then no more sugar from ANY source the rest of the day. That’s what is healthy.  But, the solution is NOT sugar substitutes either.

The side effects of artificial sweeteners are horrific: increased risk of cancer; links to causing leukemia, lymphoma, and breast cancer; increases the strength of other carcinogens that we may have exposure to; and digestive problems; to name a few.

So how do you avoid these?  Stick to true, real sugar whenever you can.  Better yet, you can make healthier options by turning to other natural sweeteners such as honey, stevia or agave nectar.  Maintain your moderation on all these also, over indulgence on healthy food is still unhealthy.

 Chemical Preservatives

AKA: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHH) & Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Propyl Gallate
Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite

It is a wonderful thing that science has given us in the ability to preserve food.  We can freeze, dehydrate, can, smoke… the list of at-home preservation methods is immense.  Big business wants to extend the amount of time that they have to make a profit by even longer, so they have scientists developing preservatives that will make it last even longer.  (Remember the joke about a Twinkie being edible after 50 years?  It’s really not that far from fact.)

Side effects of these chemical preservatives include- carcinogenic effects, including pancreatic and stomach cancer.

Not all products contain the “Big Three” mentioned above.  Be on task and check your foods and try to avoid cooking with anything preserved with these chemicals.

 Unnatural Flavor Enhancers

AKA: Artificial and Natural Flavors
Partially Hydrogenated Oil
Olestra (Olean)

Most of the time, there is a trade-off between shelf life and flavor.  The longer something sits on a shelf waiting to be sold, the less likely that it will retain it’s original, naturally yumminess.  How do they solve this issue?  Why, flavor enhancers, of course!!

Side effects of these flavorful chemical compounds include- the risk of higher cholesterol levels, increase your risk for obesity and heart disease, and gastrointestinal distress, ranging from gas to severe diarrhea.

How to avoid it?  For the most part, if a label says, “Artificial and Natural Flavors” by itself, you’re relatively safe.  Paired with another of the enhancement chemicals, you really should avoid them.  As with all things, a healthy, well-rounded diet has plenty of natural flavors so it’s easier to avoid the artificial ones.

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Artificial Colors

We all remember the freak-out involving M&M’s and the tainted red candies.  Turns out it was not necessary, but I think that Mars made the right decision to stop production in the midst of chaos.  Nature creates a whole host of colors, which can be used as a dye, but once again, it goes back to preservation of shelf-life.  Artificial colors last longer.

Side effects can be allergic reactions, tumors, and hyperactivity in children.  An interesting side note: If a product contains artificial color, then chances are that it contains very little nutritional value.  The best way to avoid artificial colors is to eat real food.

Chemical Stabilizers

AKA: Gums
Potassium Bromate

Once again, these are simply added to our food to lengthen it’s shelf life.  (Have you noticed how desperate they are to not lose any profit to spoilage or waste here?)  Typically, the biggest culprits are “convenience foods” that can be made from scratch, but with our hectic lives, we tend to choose the easy way. (For good reason- no judging here.)

These can cause allergic reactions- sometimes severe- and cancer.  Potassium Bromate has even been banned in the European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, South Korea, Peru, Sri Lanka, China, and India.

How to avoid these?  Diligent label reading.  Make sure you are checking all of your store-bought (outside the store’s true bakery) bread purchases for this nasty compound that the FDA is willing to gamble our health away on.

Make sure in your quest to be healthy you remember just how much impact your food has.  You may be getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals with a side of carcinogens.

I hope this helps you to make more informed choices in what you put on your dinner table.

For your further research:
Sugary Drinks | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of …

Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet | The Nutrition Source …

Aspartame: The Most Dangerous Substance on the Market


Hard to Swallow: The Truth About Food Addictive by Doris Sarjeant & Karen Evans

Read It Before You Eat It by Bonnie Taub-Dix

Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternative to Conventional Snacks by Andrea Donsky & Randy Boyer

What to Eat by Marion Nestle

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Tricks of the Pharma Industry documentary

Country Mouse City Spouse: WHAT Are We Eating? The 5 Most Toxic Food Additives & How to Avoid Them


  1. AmeriBev
  2. Amy

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