Here is a list of 7 food additives and preservatives that should be avoided. Trans fats, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial food coloring, sodium nitrite, guar gum, fructose, and carrageenan are all common ingredients in processed foods that can have adverse health effects. Trans fats have been a nutrition buzzword for the past 15 years or so. They are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature.
This process is called hydrogenation and it increases the shelf life of processed foods. Trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is best to avoid foods that contain trans fats. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly used in Asian cuisine.
It has been the subject of heated controversy since a 1969 study on mice discovered that large quantities caused harmful neurological effects and affected growth and development. In one study, 61 people who reported being sensitive to MSG received 5 grams of MSG or a placebo. Interestingly, 36% experienced an adverse reaction to monosodium glutamate, while only 25% reported having a reaction to the placebo, so MSG sensitivity may be a legitimate concern for some people. Artificial food coloring is used to brighten up and improve the appearance of everything from candies to condiments.
However, in recent years, there have been a lot of concerns about possible health effects. Some specific food colorings, such as blue 1, red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6, have been associated with allergic reactions in some people. In addition, one review reported that artificial food colors may promote hyperactivity in children, although another study showed that some children may be more sensitive than others. Some animal studies have shown that red 3, also known as erythrosine, increases the risk of thyroid tumors, causing it to be replaced by red 40 in most foods.
However, several animal studies have found that other food colorings are not associated with any carcinogenic effects. Still, more research is needed to assess the safety and possible health effects of artificial food coloring for humans. In any case, food colorings are mainly found in processed foods, which should be limited in a healthy diet. Always opt for whole foods, which are high in important nutrients and are naturally free of artificial food colors. Sodium nitrite is often found in processed meats and acts as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria and add a salty flavor and a reddish pink color. A review showed that a higher intake of nitrites and nitrosamine was associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer.
Many other studies found a similar association and reported that a higher intake of processed meats could be related to a higher risk of colorectal, breast and bladder cancers. Other studies suggest that exposure to nitrosamine may also be related to a higher incidence of type 1 diabetes, although the results are inconsistent. Guar gum is high in fiber and has been associated with a multitude of health benefits. For example, one study showed that it reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating and constipation. A review of three studies also revealed that people who ate guar gum along with a meal had a greater sense of fullness and ate fewer calories when they ate snacks throughout the day.
Other research suggests that guar gum may also help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, high amounts of guar gum can have adverse health effects such as gas, bloating or cramps in some people. Fructose is often used as an artificial sweetener in processed foods such as soft drinks and candy bars. In one study, 32 people consumed a drink sweetened with glucose or fructose for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, the fructose-sweetened drink caused a significant increase in abdominal fat and blood sugar levels in addition to a decrease in insulin sensitivity compared to the drink sweetened with glucose.
Laboratory and animal studies have also found that fructose can cause inflammation in cells which is believed to play a central role in many chronic conditions such as heart disease cancer and diabetes. Carrageenan is an additive derived from seaweed used as an emulsifier or thickener in many processed foods such as ice cream yogurt cheese sauces salad dressings etc An animal study showed that exposure to carrageenan increased fasting blood sugar levels and glucose intolerance especially when combined with a high-fat diet Test-tube and animal studies have found that carrageenan also triggers inflammation Carrageenan is also believed to have a negative impact on digestive health and may be associated with the formation of ulcers and intestinal growths A small study found that when people in remission for ulcerative colitis took a supplement containing carrageenan they experienced an earlier relapse than those taking a placebo. In general it is best to avoid trans fats monosodium glutamate artificial food coloring sodium nitrite guar gum fructose and carrageenan whenever possible as they can all have adverse health effects when consumed in large quantities or over long periods of time.