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Hidden food additives

March 11, 2009

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Can you say butylated hydroxyanisole or acesulfame-K? If you ask most people to pronounce the ingredients on a bag of chips or a soda they will not be able to. It is these food additives that lead to many preventable health problems.

A recent article outlines the top food additives you should avoid. Are any of them hidden in your food?

Olestra: a.k.a. Olean is a synthetic fat found in some potato chips and prevents fat from getting absorbed in your digestive system. It can also inhibit vitamins found in fruits and vegetables from being absorbed. 

Sodium nitrate: used to preserve color and flavor in meat products like bacon, ham, smoked fish and luncheon meats. This preservative prevents the growth of healthy bacteria and has also been linked to various types of cancer.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT): used to preserve foods like cereals, chewing gum and potato chips. Both are antioxidants that may cause cancer.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG): an amino acid used to flavor soups, salad dressings and restaurant food. It can cause headaches and nausea and other health problems.  

Most of these additives are used to preserve and enhance the flavor of packaged foods. You don’t need to eat bland food, but rather by eating fewer packaged foods and opting for ingredients you can pronounce like vegetables, whole grains and fruit you will maintain or improve your health.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.