Common Food Additive Guide

Many of the processed food products available in the market today contain some kind of food additive. They are being added in to serve a certain purpose. Food additives can either help extend the shelf life of the products, enhance their flavor or appearance. But unfortunately, these food additives may also be affecting your health. Here is a basic guide of the common food additives and how they might affect your health.

Aspartame

This additive is used as a zero-calorie alternative artificial sweetener in foods. It is about 180 times sweeter than table sugar and is usually added in diet sodas. But through the years there have been complaints comprising mainly of experiencing neurological symptoms such as headaches and dizziness that might be attributed to the use of this artificial sweetener. Although human studies may have shown that aspartame may be harmless, there are a few animal studies that may suggest this artificial sweetener as a possible carcinogen.

Artificial Flavoring

This category usually covers a variety of chemicals used to imitate the flavor of certain fruits, for example along with other types of food. They are being used in a wide range of processed food products such as cereals, beverages and desserts. Although the FDA may have considered such chemicals as safe as well as being labeled under the artificial flavoring banner, it may be more difficult for people to pinpoint what the reactions the specific chemicals may cause.

BHA And BHT

The abbreviation for Butylated HydroxyAnisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene, BHA and BHT are primarily used to preserve fats and oils in processed food to make them last longer. They are antioxidants derived from petroleum products. Among the two, BHA is considered the most risky since animal studies have shown it to cause cancers in the stomachs of mice, rats and hamsters. BHA is also being labeled as a possible human carcinogen.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Also more commonly known as trans fat, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is created by forcing hydrogen gas into vegetable fats under extreme pressure. They are being used in food processing because they cost less and have longer shelf lives. They can be found in almost all processed foods using vegetable oil as an ingredient. But recent studies have linked trans fat to heart disease. This has led some food companies from trying to avoid its use although others continue using it on their products.