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Preservative Perils

woman reading labels in grocery store

Become a label reader. Become aware of everything you put into your body.

Have you ever looked at the list of ingredients on the packaging of items you buy at your local market? Some of them you can’t even pronounce – let alone describe what they are. Should this concern you?

Many of those funny sounding names and abbreviations are food preservatives, and just because they’re on the shelves doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe.

Naturally, the safest way to keep unwanted preservatives out of your system is to eat a diet that consists mainly of organic fruits and vegetables. However, if you eat processed foods, become mindful of some of the most common food preservatives:

  • BHT, BHA and Propyl Gallate – These are used to keep fats and oils in food from spoiling. In laboratory rats, they have been found to cause cancer. These preservatives usually show up in potato-based snacks, chewing gum, vegetable oil and cereal packaging.
  • Aspartame – A sugar substitute used in beverages and found in diet foods, such as soft drinks and sweetened snacks. This artificial sweetener has been linked to an increase in lymphoma (cancer), leukemia and brain tumors.
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils – Found in products such as crackers, cookies, baked goods, and salad dressings, the process used to make these oils results in the creation of trans fats – prime fodder for the development of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Food Dyes – Blue Dyes 1 and 2, Red Dye 3 and Yellow Dye 6 have been linked to the formation of various types of tumors throughout the body. Read food and pet food labels carefully to avoid these dyes.
  • Sulfites (Sulphites) – These are used to prevent discoloration in certain dried fruits and frozen potatoes. However, they can destroy B1 vitamins in the food and may cause hives and difficulty breathing, particularly in those with a history of asthma and allergies.
  • MSG – Used to flavor food, MSG may cause headaches, nausea/vomiting, and difficulty breathing in those who are sensitive to it.

Become an educated consumer. Read food labels in order to avoid the negative effects of eating foods that contain some of the more dangerous preservatives. Naturally, the best strategy is to eat fresh foods. Try to limit your shopping to the perimeter of the supermarket where there are fewer processed foods.