Processed Food

There’s a lot of unnatural stuff in our food; more than you might think at first, certainly. If you’re health conscious, you probably try to keep away from processed foods, instead including more natural foods in your diet. You probably steer clear of high fructose corn syrup as well, as it is a subject of controversy. Given that it contributes to obesity, which itself creates a number of risk factors, it seems wise to limit our intake of it (and other sugars as well). However, there are other artificial ingredients and additives in our foods that we should be aware of.

10. Sodium Nitrites

Sodium Nitrites

Basically a form of salt, sodium nitrites are generally used in processed foods, though they are also known to occur in a number of other products, including dyes, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides. When it comes to processed foods, particularly processed meat, sodium nitrite functions as a preservative; it fights off the growth of bacteria and keeps the meat in that warm reddish pink shade. Aside from the high salt content, which is enough to cause higher blood pressure and other circulatory complications, sodium nitrite can transform into carcinogenic chemicals known as nitrosamines. This process can occur during the curing process, or even during digestion.

9. Caramel Coloring

Caramel Coloring

Did you think that colas were naturally that dark brown, caramel-edged color? Believe it or not, this very common food coloring additive poses a potential risk of cancer. While it is not specified as dangerous according to the FDA, certain food items and beverages have high enough doses of caramel coloring that, if they are consumed over long periods of time, may potentially generate carcinogenic effects. The regulations for warnings, along with the actual amount of caramel coloring used in a given product, vary from region to region across the United States. If you’re concerned, check for warning labels.