Are Any of these 7 "Must Avoid" Food Additives Hiding in Your Pantry?

Posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Susan Ohtake, CPT

Be honest. Are you purchasing prepackaged food items for lunch or as something quick to eat when you're on the go? If so, I completely understand. As a busy mom, I totally get how important it is to make the best use of your time. However, what I want to let you know is how bad some prepackaged items are due to food additives. I'll cover 7 additives that you should absolutely stay away from. You might be surprised...these are hiding out in many common foods.

7 "Must-Avoid" Food Additives

Food additives are substances used to enhance the flavor and appearance of food, as well as prolong its shelf life. These substances have been used for centuries, but there comes a time that you have to ask, what is it really adding to my life?

Potassium Bromate

Commonly used in white flour, rolls, and bread, potassium bromate is an additive that causes cancer in animals. This additive helps condition the flour so that the bread rises while baking. Next time you go to the store to purchase bread, check the food label to see if potassium bromate is included on the list. It'd be worth it to put an item back that has it and find something that doesn't cause kidney and thyroid tumors.


This food additive might blow your mind because so many people use it daily. Saccharin and other artificial sweeteners can help promote weight loss and control blood sugar. However, research also suggests that saccharin causes tumors in rats. If you're looking to substitute sugar, then consider using stevia instead. Saccharin is 'Sweet 'n Low', so you'll want to swap it out if this is what you currently use in your coffee.


Also known as NutraSweet and Equal, this artificial sweetener is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen. Individuals that regularly consume this often suffer from headaches. Over time, it can interfere with your short term memory and lead to diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and fibromyalgia. You can also find aspartame in diet and sugar free sodas, jello, sugar free gum, baking goods, and Kool-Aid.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

BHT and BHA are food additives typically found in potato chips, vegetable oils, candy and jello. They are responsible for keeping foods from changing colors, changing flavors, and becoming stale. Unfortunately, it also has some neurological effects too. These unfortunately common additives alter behavior and have the ability to cause cancer.


Obtained from red seaweed, carrageenan acts as a preservative, emulsifier, and thickener in various food products. You'll commonly see it listed on the food labels of ice cream, coffee, vegan cheese, and almond milk. An animal study found that exposure to carrageenan increased levels of fasting blood sugar and glucose intolerance. This additive is also not good for your digestive health and linked to intestinal ulcers. Fortunately, many of the products listed above can also be found in carrageenan-free versions.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Of all of the food additives, MSG has probably gotten the most attention in the last decade. MSG is known for greatly enhancing food flavors in processed foods. Studies have found that routine consumption of MSG could cause eye damage, fatigue, headaches, depression, confusion, and obesity. Check for this amino acid the next time you pick-up a frozen dinner, canned soup, or lunch meats.

Trans Fat

This food additive is used to prolong the shelf life of food items and considered to be one of the most dangerous to ingest. In fact, researchers at Harvard University were able to link trans fat with heart attacks and heart disease. It's a very common food additive that many people use daily, but don't know it. In some parts of the world, trans fat is banned if it exceeds a certain limit, which gives you an idea of how bad it is. Double check your food labels when going shopping for chips, crackers, and margarine.

Be On the Lookout!

I probably seems like your grocery list just got shorter. But there's a silver lining here!

Your fitness journey is also very much a wellness journey. While exercising is a key part, so is the food that you consume to fuel your body. I don't know about you, but I'm not just taking care of my body so I look great in skinny jeans. For me, it's also about feeling my best and staying healthy.

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