What You Should (But Don’t) Know About Widely Used Food Additives

The concept of food additives and preservatives may seem modern, but it’s actually as old as time itself. For millennia, our ancestors had to pickle, dry, ferment, smoke, and cure their foods to make them last longer.

Of course, now we have easier and more convenient ways to safely store our food. However, there are still many types of food additives used to preserve flavor or enhance appearance.

Keep reading to learn about the most common types of food additives and preservatives.

1. Artificial Food Coloring

Every time you see a bright piece of candy or a colorful condiment spread, you’re likely looking at artificial food coloring. These food dyes are derived from natural or artificial ingredients to enhance the appearance of food.

Although food dyes are generally recognized as safe, researchers have noticed allergic random in some people. There’s also evidence to suggest that certain dyes can cause hyperactivity in children.

2. Artificial Sweeteners

Many experts believe that sugar is the leading cause of the world’s global health crisis. In response, many manufacturers now use artificial sweeteners in their food products.

The most common types include sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin. Although these artificial sweeteners may help some people lose weight or manage their blood sugar levels, they can also cause headaches and other side effects.

Are artificial sweeteners really safer or healthier than natural sugar? The jury is still out on this one.

3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Why do McDonald’s french fries and cheap Chinese takeout taste so darn good? Chances are it’s because these items are loaded with MSG.

This powerful flavor enhancer lurks in everything from canned soups to frozen dinner to your favorite salty snacks. It’s been a major subject of controversy for over 50 years since studies first suggested it could be harmful to human health.

People who are sensitive to MSG may experience headaches, numbness, or sweating after consuming it. Still, most experts list MSG as a generally safe food additive.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup

Of all the different types of food additives, high fructose corn syrup is probably the one you’ve heard the most about. This sweetener made from corn is present in many processed foods, from breakfast cereals and candies to juices and sodas.

This simple sugar sounds harmless enough, but it’s been linked to a wide array of health problems. Studies show a direct correlation between fructose and diabetes, weight gain, and inflammation.

Unlike some of the other hotly contested additives on our list, this one is widely recognized as harmful to your health. Try to limit your exposure to high fructose corn syrup and instead choose unprocessed foods with no added sugars.

Get Familiar With These Types of Food Additives

Unless you grow your own food, it’s almost impossible to eliminate all these types of food additives and preservatives from your diet. 

Keep in mind that not all of them are harmful to your health. Your best bet is to do your research, read labels carefully, and choose the products you feel comfortable eating.

Now that you know more about the main types of food additives, what’s next? Keep browsing our site for more interesting articles like this one!