20 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Food

Stop counting calories and start counting chemicals.

There is nothing I love more than lists to help me remember things. This one is a pretty long list of ingredients you should not be eating; but it is vital to help you be in the best health and just feel good about what you’re putting in your mouth. Cancer is on the rise, it is now said that 1 in 2 people will have some form of cancer in their lifetime. Those odds are down right INSANE. And no wonder it’s so hard to lose the belly fat, our body wasn’t made to process this “stuff” they are putting into food.

Before we get started, here are several practical tips to help you make change in your home:

If your budget is a concern (as in you can’t throw away something because you can’t afford to replace it), then finish it up and avoid the ingredient when you replace it.
Getting your family on board can take time, slowly make the changes instead of going cold turkey.

1. Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavorings are derived from chemicals made in a laboratory and offer no nutrition and are a magnet for processed foods. They show up in almost everything today, including bread, cereals, flavored yogurt, soups mixes, and cocktail mixers, so they can be hard to avoid. Even products that say it was made with “natural flavoring” should have their label checked prior to consumption. Every single artificial flavor in the food industry has some kind of detrimental health effect. These include neurotoxicity, developmental, reproductive toxicity and cancer.

2. Enriched Wheat

Used in many snack foods. A refined starch that is made from toxic ingredients. That means niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron are added after these and other key nutrients are stripped out in the first place during the refining process. That applies to whether it’s wheat, rye, or other grains. Enriched flour is really just refined flour that has had a few nutrients re-added to it, but not enough to make any food made from this nutritionally worthy.

3. Hydrogentated or Fractionated Oils

Fractionating oil is a process most often used on palm and palm kernel oil that involves heating the oil, then cooling it quickly so that it breaks up into fractions. The key thing is that the filtration process separates out most of the liquid part of the oil, leaving a high concentration of solid unhealthy fat behind which is very toxic for consumption.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Flavor enhancer that can cause headaches. Linked in animal studies to cause nerve damage, heart problems and seizures.

5. Sugar

The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar. Sugar is loaded into your soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods. Sugar changes metabolism, critically alters the signaling of hormones and causes significant damage to the liver and raises blood pressure — the least understood of sugar’s damages. 

6. Potassium Benzoate and Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate can convert into lethal carcinogenic poison when combined with absorbic acid. Studies have shown the benzoate was damaging an important area of DNA in the “power station” of cells known as the mitochondria. “These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.”

Potassium benzoate often shows up in certain foods such as apple cider, low-fat salad dressings, syrups, jams, olives, and pickles. It is just as hazardous as Sodium Benzoate so READ YOUR LABELS!

7. Artificial Coloring

  • Red40 Found in many foods to alter color. All modern food dyes are derived from petroleum. A carcinogen that is linked to cancer in some studies. Also can cause hyperactivity in children which probably why every child is being diagnosed with ADHD. And it’s banned in most European countries.
  • Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, have been linked to cancer in mice.
  • Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats.
  • Green 3, added to candy and beverages, has been linked to bladder cancer.
  • Yellow 6, added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy, has been linked to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney.
  • Caramel coloring: In soft drinks, sauces, pastries and breads. When made with ammonia, it can cause cancer in mice. Food companies not required to disclose if this ingredient is made with ammonia.
  • Brown HT: Used in many packaged foods. Can cause hyperactivity in children, asthma and cancer.
  • Orange B: A food dye that is used in hot dog and sausage casings. High doses are bad for the liver and bile duct.
  • Bixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
  • Norbixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
  • Annatto: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.

8. High Fructose Corn Syrup

Sweetener made from corn starch. Made from genetically-modified corn. Causing obesity, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and insulin resistance. This one we have known for years that it not good for us and many companies have chosen to stop putting it into their products. However they have added different garbage to make it sound better.

9.Artificial Sweeteners

  • Saccharin: Carcinogen found to cause bladder cancer in rats.
  • Aspartame: An excito toxin and thought to be a carcinogen. Can cause dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and stomach problems.
  • Acesulfame potassium: Used with other artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and ice cream. Linked to lung and breast tumors in rats.
  • Sucralose: “Splenda”. Can cause swelling of liver and kidneys and a shrinkage of the thymus gland.
  • Agave nectar: Sweetener derived from a cactus. Contains high levels of fructose, which causes insulin resistance, liver disease and inflammation of body tissues.

10. BHA and BHT

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are used to preserve common household foods. Any processed food that has a long shelf life is often filled with BHA. They are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. They are oxidants, which form potentially cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.

11. Propyl Gallate

Another preservative, often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. It is sometimes found in meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum. Animals studies have suggested that it could be linked to cancer.

12. Sodium Chloride

A dash of sodium chloride, more commonly known as salt, is the culprit that the mainstream media and medical community claim we should stay away from. They’re right, but only because it’s not real salt. Common table salt (sodium chloride) has almost nothing in common with traditional rock or sea salt. If a food label lists salt, or sodium chloride as an ingredient, that’s the bad stuff and you need to avoid these foods wherever possible.

13. Soy

Although it’s often acknowledged as a healthy, cholesterol-free, cheap, low-fat protein alternative to meat; it is NOT healthy for you. Any foods that list soy in any form as an ingredient should be avoided. Soy protein, soy isolate, and soy oil are present in about 60 percent of the foods on the market and have been shown to impair fertility and affect estrogen in women, lower sex drive, and trigger puberty early in children. Soy can also add to the imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

The only soy products fit for human consumption should be organic or fermented. I can guarantee you will never find this type of soy in any processed foods. The majority of soy is GMO and you can’t get around this.

14. Corn

We are at the point where all corn products, including fresh corn should be avoided. The percentage of genetically modified corn is super high. You will never know if you are actually consuming organic corn. Modified cornstarch, dextrose, maltodextrin, and corn oil should all be avoided. All are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation, cancer, and heart disease.

15. Potassium Sorbate

As one of the most common preservatives in the food industry, it is difficult to find an ice cream without potassium sorbate. However, it is not only recommended to avoid this chemical, it’s important to eliminate it from our food.

16. Polysorbate 80

Polysorbate 80 has been found to negatively affect the immune system and cause severe anaphylactic shock. Studies have shown that Polysorbate 80 causes infertility. It accelerates maturing, causes changes to the vagina and womb lining, hormonal changes, ovary deformities and degenerative follicles. What is very suspicious about this ingredient is its addition to vaccines. Scientists are obviously aware of its ability to cause infertility yet it continues to appear in children’s vaccines. You will also commonly find this in a child’s favorite treat, ice cream.

17. Soy Lecithin

Soy Lecithin has been lingering around our food supply for over a century. It is an ingredient in literally hundreds of processed foods, and also sold as an over the counter health food supplement. However, most people don’t realize what soy lecithin actually is, and why the dangers of ingesting this additive far exceed its benefits. Look out for this emulsifier in ice creams, chocolate and many processed creams.

18. Canola oil

Canola or rapeseed oil is poisonous to living things and is an excellent insect repellent. It is an industrial oil, not a food. It is a genetically modified plant designed through intensive breeding and genetic engineering techniques. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find products that do not contain Canola oil. Please do not buy any food product containing canola oil.

19. Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites

No that’s not a typo. If you are still eating meat, These two different preservatives are found in processed meats like bacon, lunch meat, and hot dogs. They’re some of the worst offenders, and they’re believed to cause colon cancer and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes. Protect your health by always choosing fresh, organic meats. The are saying that meat is now worse than smoking cigarettes.

20. Carrageenan

Stabilizer and thickening agent used in many prepared foods. Can cause ulcers and cancer.

The fastest and easiest way to stay clear of these products is to:

  • Avoid fast foods
  • Avoid soda and sugary drinks & juice
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Know what you’re eating!

Another great link to reference is my food labels 101, explaining the difference between GMO, Non-GMO, conventional and organic foods.

Here is a list version you can screenshot or copy and paste to your notes when grocery shopping.

  1. Artificial Flavors
  2. Enriched Wheat
  3. Hydrogentated or Fractionated Oils
  4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  5. Sugar
  6. Potassium Benzoate and Sodium Benzoate
  7.  Artificial Coloring
  8. High Fructose Corn Syrup
  9. Artificial Sweeteners
  10. BHA and BHT
  11. Propyl Gallate
  12. Sodium Chloride
  13. Soy
  14. Corn
  15. Potassium Sorbate
  16. Polysorbate 80
  17. Soy Lecithin
  18. Canola oil
  19. Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrites
  20. Carrageenan

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