12 Common Food Additives — Should You Avoid Them?


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12 Common Food Additives — Should You Avoid Them?: Take a have a look at the ingredients label of nearly any food in your kitchen pantry and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a food additive.

They are used to reinforce the flavor, look or texture of a product, or to increase its shelf life.

Some of these substances have been related to adverse health results and should be averted, while others are protected and will be consumed with minimal risk.

Here are 12 of probably the most common food additives, plus suggestions for which of them to keep out of your diet.

1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a common food additive used to accentuate and improve the flavor of savory dishes.

It’s found in a range of processed foods like frozen dinners, salty snacks and canned soups. It’s also usually added to foods at eating places and quick food places.

MSG has been a subject of heated controversy since a 1969 examine of mice found that large amounts brought about dangerous neurological results and impaired growth and improvement (1Trusted Source).

However, this additive is prone to have little to no impact on human brain health because it’s unable to cross the blood-brain barrier (2Trusted Source).

MSG consumption has also been related to weight gain and metabolic syndrome in some observational studies, though different analysis has found no affiliation (3Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

That being said, some people do have a sensitivity to MSG and might expertise signs like headaches, sweating and numbness after eating a large amount.

In one examine, 61 people who reported being MSG-sensitive got both 5 grams of MSG or a placebo.

Interestingly, 36% skilled an adverse response to MSG while only 25% reported a response to the placebo, so MSG sensitivity could also be a official concern for some people (6Trusted Source).

If you expertise any negative side results after consuming MSG, it’s best to keep it out of your diet.

Otherwise, if you happen to’re capable of tolerate MSG, it may be safely consumed in moderation with out the risk of adverse side results.


MSG is used to reinforce the flavor of many processed foods. Some people might have a sensitivity to MSG, but it’s protected for many people when used in moderation.

basket of french fries
Magida El-Kassis/Stocksy United

2. Artificial Food Coloring

Artificial food coloring is used to brighten and improve the looks of every part from candies to condiments.

In current years, although, there have been many concerns about potential health effects. Specific food dyes like Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have been related to allergic reactions in some people (7Trusted Source).

Additionally, one evaluate reported that artificial food coloring might promote hyperactivity in children, though one other examine confirmed that some children could also be extra delicate than others (8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

Concerns have also been raised concerning the potential cancer-causing results of certain food dyes.

Red 3, also often called erythrosine, has been proven to increase the risk of thyroid tumors in some animal studies, inflicting it to get replaced by Red 40 in most foods (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

However, a number of animal studies have found that different food dyes should not related to any cancer-causing results (12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

Still, extra analysis is required to judge the safety and potential health results of artificial food coloring for people.

Regardless, food dyes are found primarily in processed foods, which should be limited in a healthy diet. Always go for whole foods, that are greater in important nutrients and naturally free of artificial food coloring.


Artificial food coloring might promote hyperactivity in delicate children and can cause allergic reactions. Red 3 has also been proven to increase the risk of thyroid tumors in animal studies.

3. Sodium Nitrite

Frequently found in processed meats, sodium nitrite acts as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria while also including a salty flavor and reddish-pink shade.

When uncovered to high heat and in the presence of amino acids, nitrites can flip into nitrosamine, a compound that may have many negative results on health.

One evaluate confirmed {that a} greater intake of nitrites and nitrosamine was related to the next risk of stomach most cancers (14Trusted Source).

Many different studies have found an analogous affiliation, reporting {that a} greater intake of processed meats could also be linked to the next risk of colorectal, breast and bladder most cancers (15Trusted Source16Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

Other studies recommend that nitrosamine publicity might also be linked to the next incidence of sort 1 diabetes, though findings are inconsistent (18Trusted Source).

Still, it’s best to keep your intake of sodium nitrite and processed meats to a minimum. Try swapping out processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and ham for unprocessed meat and healthy sources of protein.

Chicken, beef, fish, pork, legumes, nuts, eggs and tempeh are just some delicious high-protein foods you can add to your diet in place of processed meats.


Sodium nitrite is a common ingredient in processed meats that may be transformed right into a dangerous compound referred to as nitrosamine. A greater intake of nitrites and processed meats could also be linked to the next risk of a number of types of most cancers.

4. Guar Gum

Guar gum is a long-chain carbohydrate used to thicken and bind foods. It’s broadly used in the food business and will be found in ice cream, salad dressings, sauces and soups.

Guar gum is high in fiber and has been related to a large number of health benefits. For instance, one examine confirmed that it reduced signs of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating and constipation (19Trusted Source).

A evaluate of three studies also found that people who took guar gum together with a meal had increased emotions of fullness and ate fewer calories from snacking all through the day (20Trusted Source).

Other analysis means that guar gum might also assist lower levels of blood sugar and cholesterol (21Trusted Source22Trusted Source).

However, high amounts of guar gum might have adverse results on health.

This is as a result of it could possibly swell 10 to twenty times its size, potentially inflicting points like obstruction of the esophagus or small gut (23Trusted Source).

Guar gum might also cause mild signs like gas, bloating or cramps in some people (24Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, guar gum is usually thought of protected in moderation.

Additionally, the FDA has set strict tips on how much guar gum will be added to foods to minimize the risk of negative side results (25).


Guar gum is a long-chain carbohydrate used to thicken and bind foods. It has been related to better digestive health, lower levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, in addition to increased emotions of fullness.

5. High-Fructose Corn Syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn. It’s often found in soda, juice, sweet, breakfast cereals and snack foods.

It’s rich in a kind of easy sugar referred to as fructose, which might cause severe health points when consumed in high amounts.

In specific, high-fructose corn syrup has been linked to weight gain and diabetes.

In one examine, 32 people consumed a drink sweetened with both glucose or fructose for 10 weeks.

By the tip of the examine, the fructose-sweetened beverage brought about vital will increase in belly fat and blood sugar levels, plus decreased insulin sensitivity compared to the glucose-sweetened beverage (26Trusted Source).

Test-tube and animal studies have also found that fructose can set off inflammation in the cells (27Trusted Source28Trusted Source).

Inflammation is believed to play a central role in many chronic conditions, including heart disease, most cancers and diabetes (29Trusted Source).

Additionally, high-fructose corn syrup contributes empty calories and added sugar to foods with none of the important vitamins and minerals that your body wants.

It’s best to skip sugary snacks and foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup.

Instead, go for whole, unprocessed foods with out added sugar, and sweeten them up with Stevia, yacon syrup or fresh fruit.


High-fructose corn syrup is related to weight gain, diabetes and inflammation. It’s also high in empty calories and contributes nothing but calories to your diet.

6. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are used in many diet foods and beverages to reinforce sweetness while reducing calorie content material.

Common types of artificial sweeteners include aspartame, sucralose, saccharin and acesulfame potassium.

Studies present that artificial sweeteners can assist in weight loss and assist handle blood sugar levels.

One examine found that people who consumed a supplement containing artificial sweeteners for 10 weeks had a lower intake of calories and gained much less body fat and weight than these consuming common sugar (30Trusted Source).

Another examine confirmed that consuming sucralose for 3 months had no impact on blood sugar control in 128 people with diabetes (31Trusted Source).

Note that certain types of artificial sweeteners like aspartame might cause headaches in some people, and studies present that certain individuals could also be extra delicate to its results (32Trusted Source33Trusted Source).

Still, artificial sweeteners are usually thought of protected for many people when consumed in moderation (34Trusted Source).

However, if you happen to expertise any negative side results after using artificial sweeteners, verify ingredients labels carefully and limit your intake.


Artificial sweeteners might assist promote weight loss and blood sugar control. Certain types might cause mild side results like headaches, but they’re usually thought of protected in moderation.

7. Carrageenan

Derived from red seaweed, carrageenan acts as a thickener, emulsifier and preservative in many various food products.

Common sources of carrageenan include almond milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, coffee creamers and dairy-free products like vegan cheese.

For a long time, there have been issues concerning the safety of this common food additive and its potential results on health.

One animal examine confirmed that publicity to carrageenan increased levels of fasting blood sugar and glucose intolerance, especially when mixed with a high-fat diet (35Trusted Source).

Test-tube and animal studies have found that carrageenan triggered inflammation, as effectively (36Trusted Source37Trusted Source).

Carrageenan is also believed to negatively impact digestive health, and could also be related to the formation of intestinal ulcers and growths (38Trusted Source).

One small examine found that when people in remission from ulcerative colitis took a supplement containing carrageenan, they skilled an earlier relapse than those that took a placebo (39Trusted Source).

Unfortunately, present analysis on the effects of carrageenan is still very limited and extra studies are wanted to know the way it might have an effect on people.

If you do resolve to limit your intake of carrageenan, there are plenty of sources on-line that may enable you to discover brands and products which are carrageenan-free.


Test-tube and animal studies have found that carrageenan might cause high blood sugar and might cause intestinal ulcers and growths. One examine also found that carrageenan contributed to an earlier relapse of ulcerative colitis.

8. Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a preservative usually added to carbonated drinks and acidic foods like salad dressings, pickles, fruit juices and condiments.

It has been usually recognized as protected by the FDA, but a number of studies have uncovered potential side results that should be thought of (40).

For instance, one examine found that combining sodium benzoate with artificial food coloring increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old children (41Trusted Source).

Another examine confirmed {that a} greater intake of beverages containing sodium benzoate was related to extra signs of ADHD in 475 faculty college students (42Trusted Source).

When mixed with vitamin C, sodium benzoate can also be transformed right into a benzene, a compound that could be related to most cancers improvement (43Trusted Source44Trusted Source).

Carbonated beverages contain the very best focus of benzene, and diet or sugar-free beverages are much more liable to benzene formation (43Trusted Source).

One examine analyzing the focus of benzene in a range of foods found cola and cole slaw samples with over 100 ppb of benzene, which is over 20 times the utmost contaminant level set by the EPA for drinking water (45Trusted Source).

To minimize your intake of sodium benzoate, check the labels of your food carefully.

Avoid foods that contain ingredients like benzoic acid, benzene or benzoate, especially if mixed with a supply of vitamin C such as citric acid or ascorbic acid.


Sodium benzoate could also be related to increased hyperactivity. If mixed with vitamin C, it might also type benzene, a compound that could be related to most cancers improvement.

9. Trans Fat

Trans fats are a kind of unsaturated fat which have undergone hydrogenation, which will increase shelf life and improves the consistency of products.

It will be found in many types of processed foods like baked goods, margarine, microwave popcorn and biscuits.

A number of potential health dangers have been related to trans fat intake, and the FDA even just lately determined to revoke their GRAS (usually recognized as protected) standing (46Trusted Source).

In specific, a number of studies have linked the next intake of trans fat to the next risk of heart disease (47Trusted Source48Trusted Source49Trusted Source).

One examine found that eating foods high in trans fat increased a number of markers of inflammation, which is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease (50Trusted Source).

Research also shows there could also be a connection between trans fat and diabetes.

A large examine with 84,941 girls even confirmed {that a} high intake of trans fat was related to a 40% greater risk of developing sort 2 diabetes (51Trusted Source).

Cutting processed foods out of your diet is the simplest and handiest way to lower your trans fat intake.

You can also make just a few easy switches in your diet, like using butter instead of margarine and swapping out vegetable oils for olive oil or coconut oil instead.


Eating trans fat has been related to many negative results on health, including inflammation, heart disease and diabetes.

10. Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a common additive that’s used to thicken and stabilize many types of food such as salad dressings, soups, syrups and sauces.

It’s also sometimes used in gluten-free recipes to assist improve the feel of foods.

Xanthan gum has been related to a number of health benefits.

One examine found that consuming rice with added xanthan gum resulted in lower levels of blood sugar than consuming rice with out it (52).

Another examine also found that eating xanthan gum for six weeks reduced levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, plus increased emotions of fullness (53Trusted Source).

However, current analysis on the potential benefits of xanthan gum is still limited.

Furthermore, consuming large amounts of xanthan gum might also be linked to digestive issues, such as increased stool output, gas and tender stools (54Trusted Source).

For most people, although, xanthan gum is usually protected and effectively tolerated.

If you do expertise negative signs after eating xanthan gum, it’s best to reduce your intake or take into account eliminating it out of your diet.


Xanthan gum might assist reduce levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. In large amounts, it might cause digestive points like gas and tender stools.

11. Artificial Flavoring

Artificial flavors are chemicals designed to imitate the taste of different ingredients.

They can be utilized to mimic a range of totally different flavors, from popcorn and caramel to fruit and past.

Animal studies have found that these artificial flavors might have some regarding results on health.

One examine found that the red blood cell production in rats was considerably reduced after they have been fed artificial flavorings for seven days.

Not only that, certain flavors like chocolate, biscuit and strawberry have been also found to have a poisonous impact on their bone marrow cells (55Trusted Source).

Similarly, one other animal examine confirmed that grape, plum and orange artificial flavorings inhibited cell division and have been poisonous to bone marrow cells in mice (56Trusted Source).

However, keep in thoughts that these studies used a much extra concentrated dose than you would possibly discover in food, and further analysis is required to find out how artificial flavoring in the amounts found in foods might have an effect on people.

In the meantime, if you wish to limit your intake of artificial flavoring, verify the ingredients label of your foods.

Look for “chocolate” or “cocoa” on the ingredients label quite than “chocolate flavoring” or “artificial flavoring.”


Some animal studies have found that artificial flavoring could also be poisonous to bone marrow cells. More analysis is required to judge the effects in people.

12. Yeast Extract

Yeast extract, also referred to as autolyzed yeast extract or hydrolyzed yeast extract, is added to certain savory foods like cheese, soy sauce and salty snacks to boost the flavor.

It’s made by combining sugar and yeast in a heat atmosphere, then spinning it in a centrifuge and discarding the cell partitions of the yeast.

Yeast extract contains glutamate, which is a kind of naturally occurring amino acid found in many foods.

Much like monosodium glutamate (MSG), eating foods with glutamate might cause mild signs like headaches, numbness and swelling in people who’re delicate to its results. (6Trusted Source).

Additionally, yeast extract is relatively high in sodium, with about 400 milligrams in every teaspoon (8 grams) (57Trusted Source).

Reducing sodium intake has been proven to assist lower blood pressure, especially in people who’ve high blood pressure (58Trusted Source).

However, most foods only contain a small amount of added yeast extract, so the glutamate and sodium in yeast extract are unlikely to cause much of a problem for many people.

As of 2017, yeast extract is still recognized as protected by the Food and Drug Administration (59).

If you do expertise negative results, take into account limiting your intake of processed foods with yeast extract and including extra fresh, whole foods to your diet.


Yeast extract is high in sodium and contains glutamate, which can set off signs in some people. Yet as a result of only small amounts of yeast extract are added to foods, it’s unlikely to cause issues for many people.


  1. Preservation Power: Food additives are like the knights in shining armor of the pantry – they fight off mold, bacteria, and other nasties, keeping our food fresh and safe to eat.
  2. Flavor Fiesta: Some food additives are flavor wizards – they’re like the fairy godmothers of taste, sprinkling magic dust to enhance the flavors of our favorite foods.
  3. Texture Temptation: Food additives are texture magicians – they’re like the behind-the-scenes crew of a blockbuster movie, working tirelessly to give our snacks that perfect crunch or creamy smoothness.
  4. Colorful Creativity: Food additives are the artists of the kitchen – they’re like the painters with a palette of hues, turning bland dishes into vibrant works of culinary art.
  5. Convenience Champions: Food additives make life easier – they’re like the personal assistants of the kitchen, streamlining cooking and meal prep so we can spend less time slaving over a hot stove and more time enjoying our creations.
  6. Allergy Awareness: Some food additives can actually be lifesavers – they’re like the superhero sidekicks, alerting us to potential allergens in our food and helping those with dietary restrictions navigate the culinary landscape.
  7. Economic Efficiency: Food additives help reduce food waste – they’re like the financial advisors of the grocery store, helping us stretch our food budget by extending the shelf life of our purchases.


  1. Questionable Quality: Not all food additives are created equal – some are like the black sheep of the culinary family, hiding behind fancy names and misleading labels while wreaking havoc on our health.
  2. Health Hazards: Some food additives have been linked to health issues – they’re like the trickster villains of a fairy tale, lurking in our food and causing everything from headaches to stomachaches.
  3. Misleading Labels: Food additives can be deceptive – they’re like the master illusionists of the grocery aisle, hiding in plain sight behind vague terms like “natural flavors” and “artificial colors.”
  4. Taste Tyrants: Some food additives overpower the natural flavors of food – they’re like the obnoxious party guests who crash the party and hog all the snacks, leaving us with a bland and disappointing spread.
  5. Allergic Reactions: Food additives can trigger allergic reactions – they’re like the pranksters who swap out the salt for sugar, leaving unsuspecting diners with more than just a bad taste in their mouths.
  6. Regulatory Red Tape: The regulation of food additives can be a bureaucratic nightmare – it’s like trying to navigate a maze with blindfolds on, with confusing guidelines and loopholes aplenty.
  7. Environmental Impact: The production and disposal of food additives can have environmental consequences – they’re like the eco-villains of the kitchen, leaving a trail of pollution and waste in their wake.

In the saga of food additives, the pros and cons are as mixed as a fruit salad. So, next time you’re faced with a label full of mysterious ingredients, trust your instincts and proceed with caution – after all, you never know what tricks those sneaky additives might have up their sleeves!

The Bottom Line (12 Common Food Additives — Should You Avoid Them?)

While certain food additives have been linked to some fairly scary side results, there are plenty of others that may be safely consumed as part of a healthy diet.

Start studying the ingredient labels when grocery shopping to take control of your diet and decide what’s actually being added to your favourite foods.

Additionally, try reducing again on processed and packaged foods and incorporating more fresh ingredients into your diet to minimize your intake of food additives.


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