Food Additives To Avoid for Healthy Eating

If you are concerned about your health and the health of your family then you need to be aware of certain dangerous food additives. Although food manufacturers contend that certain food additives are needed to prevent food poisoning from occurring or preserving the shelf life of food, there is growing evidence that food additives can lead to problems with health. It is therefore important for us to carefully scan food labels on our food shopping trips to determine what additives are contained in it.

food additives

checking food labels

Here is a list of food additives to avoid for healthy eating:

1. Colours

These are used by food manufactures to add colour or restore colour to foods. They have been linked to hyperactivity in children, causing allergic reactions and even cancer. The foods that mostly contain these are sweets, soft drinks, cordials and cake. The Colour code numbers that have been linked to health problems are Blue 2, Red 3 and 40, and Yellow 5 and 6. Most of these are coal tar based dyes but Yellow 5 also contains benzene, a known carcinogenic

2. Preservatives

Preservatives are contained in foods such as soft drinks, processed meats, bread, wine and dried fruit.

Preservatives that are negative to our health contain carcinogens. These carcinogens are linked with causing cancer. A recent analysis of 800 worldwide research studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer ( IARC ) found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer”.The IARC has recommended that one should limit their intake of processed meats such as sausages, bacon, ham and frankfurts. The food preservatives sodium nitrite (250) and sodium nitrate (251) – typically found in processed cured meats like ham and bacon – are both listed as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the IARC, because they can be converted into nitrosamines in the stomach and nitrosamines increase the risk of cancer.

3. Antioxidants

The antioxidant in question is BHA and is usually found in spreads, margarines, walnuts, instant mashed potato and salad dressings. Antioxidants are generally safe at low levels, but if you decide you want to leave them out check the labels for BHA “butylated hydroxyanisole (320)”. Research studies on this have been inconclusive to date but have discovered that high doses causes tumor cell growth in animals.

4. Artificial Sweeteners

These sweeteners can be many times sweeter than sugar itself. The most common artificial sweetener is High Fructose Corn Syrup mainly found in sodas and flavoured drinks and which has been linked to obesity. Artificial sweeteners are typically found in ‘low sugar” or “diet’ versions of products. There are many scientific studies linking artificial sweeteners with cancer. The ones to avoid are saccharin, aspartame and cyclamate.

5. Flavour Enhancers

These are referred to as glutamate and are usually found in soup packets, flavoured noodles, savoury snacks and sauces. The most infamous glutamate is MSG. Although for most people glutamates are harmless, for people who are allergic should carefully read the labels.



As can be seen above most of of the food additives mentioned above are in foods and drinks which have undergone elements of processing. To adequately fuel our bodies through healthy eating we should select our foods mainly from the fresh food and vegetables and fresh meat sections of food supermarkets and greatly limit our purchases from the processed food sections. 

James Kelly

High Wycombe, Western Australia, 6057


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