Food Additives & Ingredients That Should Be On Your Radar!

I am always amazed at the ingredients found in foods found at the grocery store!  Have you ever read the list of ingredients found in your ice cream, candy, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, salad dressing or cereal?  The list of non-food chemicals and other unhealthy ingredients astounds me and I thought you should be aware of them.  I have only listed a few that have recently come to my attention, there are many more!

Food Additives That Should Be On Your Radar

Polysorbate 80, short for Polyoxyethylene-sorbitan-20-monooleate, is a viscous liquid used as an emulsifier or surfactant in processed food products.  This means it is a binding agent for oil and other liquids like water.  It is found in food products such as salad dressing, other condiments, chewing gum and ice cream.  It is also found in medicines, soap and skincare products

According to studies polysorbate 80 has been linked to infertility in mice and severe ovary deformities in rats.  It has also been shown to be an irritant to those with Crohn’s disease, causing intestinal permeability (1).  Is polysorbate 80 something you really want in your salad dressing or ice cream?

MSG or monosodium glutamate is the salt form of glutamate which is an amino acid.  It is responsible for creating the fifth taste sensation, umami  which is  the hearty, savory flavor that makes food taste even better. As human beings we are very sensitive to glutamate, having glutamate receptors throughout our bodies from the tips of our tongues to our hearts.  It is also thought that MSG is an "excitotoxin" or neurotoxin that has a degenerative effect on the brain and nervous system and some studies have linked it to obesity.  Other symptoms related to ingestion of MSG are: shortness of breath, headache, heart palpitations, nausea, etc.

MSG can be found under many different names in food products:  sodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein, textured protein, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, and may even be called spice.  Unless you are buying organic soya sauce, you can almost be sure it is the major ingredient in your soya sauce.  One popular ramen noodle soup base I looked at lists MSG as the second ingredient right after salt.

Propylene Glycol is synthetic product derived from petroleum.  It is used as a solvent and carrier of flavour or colour in the food and beverage manufacturing processes, to make drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets.  It is also a thickener, clarifier and stabilizer in food and beverage such as beer, salad dressings or baking mixtures.  Oddly enough it is also found in anti-freeze.  The Material Safety Data Sheet on propylene glycol lists its potential acute health effects as:  Hazardous in case of ingestion. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, permeator), of eye contact (irritant), of inhalation.

 Sodium benzoate  is a preservative. It is the sodium salt of Benzoic acid. Benzoic acid is synthesized commercially from toluene. Toluene is produced in the gasoline making process and the making of coke (carbon fuel produced by distillation of coal) from coal. Therefore, sodium benzoate is a petroleum derivative.  

Vegetable oils are highly processed and many chemicals are used in their manufacturing as shown in the following chart from  The human body wasn’t made to incorporate polyunsaturated fats as building blocks in our cells, but by consuming them our bodies have to incorporate them into our cells.  Polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and oxidize easily either before consumption or in the body.  These oxidized fats cause inflammation in the body and contribute to hardening of the arteries.  They also cause an imbalance in the Omega 3, 6, 9 ratios within the body which I talk about in my post about healthy fats.  We often purchase these oils in large plastic containers, which are not used quickly enough and the oil becomes rancid.  Oil of any kind, including olive oil, should never be stored in plastic, because oil can absorb noxious substances from the plastic.

Sugar, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, cane sugar are all names for sugar.  I think it is safe to say that there are very few of us who do not consume too much sugar.  The World Health Organization recommends adults consume no more than 10 g or 2 ½ of sugar/day.  There is likely more in your morning coffee or cereal or the jam you spread on your toast every morning!  Sugar is responsible for inflammation within the body and as a result contributes to chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis to name the big ones.  It is found in almost every manufactured food product out there.  I have not touched of HFCS as I believe it is a blog on its own!

Do you try and avoid food additives?