As it turns out, modern science has given us no shortage of food ingredients that (while initially deemed perfectly safe) turn out to be potentially quite harmful. This is because products are often developed and implemented into foods long before adequate research can be performed on their overall long-term health effects.
Luckily, most such harmful products are removed quickly. Others, however, can be caught up in prolonged legal and regulatory battles before a clear decision is made on their safety. These are the products that the health-conscious consumer should avoid at all costs.
List of More Food Additives to Avoid
Perhaps the largest group of food ingredients to avoid is the artificial sweeteners. It seems that when one group of claims is settled or adequately disputed, another one pops right up. Many that are now permanently banned were linked to cancer, and while there is no overwhelming evidence that the remaining ones are necessarily outright carcinogenic, there are other still worrying claims.
For example, many people consume sodas flavored with artificial sweeteners in order to cut their caloric intake. Unfortunately, research has suggested that such artificial sweeteners directly lead to higher calorie consumption down the road, generally as soon as the very next meal. Believe it or not, normal sugar is very likely better for you than artificial sweeteners. The trick, as always, is proper moderation.
Avoid BHA and BHT, both of which are common preservatives found in everything from chewing gum to vegetable oils. While it helps prevent food from going rancid, changing flavor and shifting colors, it also seems to have negative effects on the neurological system. Both BHA and BHT seem to possibly alter behavior and even increase the risk of cancer.
Sulfur Dioxide, which has been outright banned in the use of raw vegetables and fruit, is still being used in prepared and frozen foods. It can lead to bronchial problems, hypotension (unusually low blood pressure), and even anaphylactic shock. Sulfur Dioxide also prevents the body from properly absorbing Vitamins B1 and E. It can be found in everything from beer to vinegar and potato products.
Potassium Bromate, which is an extremely common ingredient in practically every bread product, has been linked to several harmful health effects. Used to increase volumes in grain based products, Potassium Bromate has been shown to lead to various cancers in animals, and even small amounts can present problems.
Potassium Nitrate, commonly used in meat products (especially cured meat products) has been shown to have carcinogenic properties. Additionally, it can lower the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, which is a decidedly dangerous effect on human health. Extended and chronic Potassium Nitrate consumption has been shown to have a potentially destructive effect on the adrenal gland.
Food Additives to Avoid: Conclusion
While many of these products are still being extensively researched, they are at the very least best avoided for now. Some may eventually be cleared as healthy whilst others will be found to be even more harmful than initially suspected. In the end, the only way to be a health conscious consumer is to read the labels carefully and understand what it is exactly that you are eating.