10 Of The Worst Food Ingredients To Never Eat Again

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10 Of The Worst Food Ingredients To Never Eat Again
10 Of The Worst Food Ingredients To Never Eat Again. Background image – © DeoSum – fotolia.com (under license)

(Note – image is for illustrative purposes only, see the article below for the full list) It goes without saying that the food we eat greatly affects our health – but with the amount of additives found in food sold to consumers, this is usually a tall order. When you go grocery shopping, get into the habit of reading the labels carefully and consider carefully the scientific reports on the following:

1. Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate is added to food to prevent the growth of pathogenic microbes, like fungi. A recent study published in 2015 revealed that sodium benzoate caused mutation and cytotoxicity through the formation of micronuclei and chromosome breaks – both characteristics found in cancer cells. [1] Another study in 2014 linked the intake of sodium benzoate-containing beverages to ADHD-like symptoms in college students. [2]

2. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)

BHA is used to prevent oils and fats from going rancid and is added to butter and chips. Similar to the results of the sodium benzoate study in 2015, a 2013 study revealed both cytotoxic and DNA fragmentation properties of BHA when used on human cells. [3] BHA also potentiates the harmful effects of propylparaben, a preservative found in most cosmetics. [4]

3. MSG (Monosodium glutamate)

Not only is MSG a preservative found in chips and other snacks, it is also used in cooking to enhance the flavor of certain dishes. While the FDA declares MSG as safe to consume, many others disagree and a recent study in 2013 revealed contraindicating results. The study revealed that MSG could cause kidney damage through the formation of kidney stones, along with increasing the levels of serum creatinine. [5]

4. Artificial Sweeteners

Although artificial sweeteners like aspartame are popular among diabetics and people watching their weight, a 2014 study revealed how people who regularly used AS experienced a sharp spike in glucose levels followed by a lengthy decline after consuming sugary food – a characteristic found in diabetes or other metabolic disorders. The study found out the AS altered the body’s gut bacteria, increasing the number of gut bacteria that fed on AS and have been linked with obesity. [6]

5. Potassium Bromate

Widely used in bread products, potassium bromate has been linked to tumor formation in the kidneys, abdomen, and thyroid, which is why it is banned in certain places like Canada and Europe. [7] A more recent study revealed that potassium bromate caused damage and oxidative stress in human red blood cells, causing the cells to lose or break – which can contribute to numerous immunity disorders and cancers. [8]

6. High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup found in most carbonated beverages has been linked to a variety of conditions like diabetes, liver disease, and obesity. [9][10][11] Not only is soda a source of empty calories, it can cause diseases as well.

7. Artificial Coloring (blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6)

There have been many studies on artificial food coloring and its effects on children, particularly their behavior. Studies in 2009 and 2012 reveal that AFC has effects on hyperactivity in children, as well as links to ADHD. [12][13]

8. Acrylamide

Acrylamide isn’t an “ingredient”, per se, but it can be found in certain food products (e.g. French fries, coffee, breakfast cereal) after going through high-heat processing. It also happens to be classified as a probable human carcinogen by the IARC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Two studies in 2011 focused on the carcinogenic effects of acrylamide, linking it to prostate cancer and cytotoxicity, a condition that causes cancer. [14][15]

9. Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrite is popularly used as a preservative in the food industry to prevent the growth of bacteria, prolonging the shelf life of the food product. While it is regarded as safe in small amounts, research has proven that SNT is not completely excreted by the body. About 60 percent remains circulating in the blood, forming nitrogen compounds that damage tissue and cause various diseases. [16]

10. BPA

It’s not exactly an ingredient… but it sure can end up in your food: Bisphenol A or BPA is used to line the inside of cans used to contain food. While certain canned goods that don’t use other preservatives on this list, the cans themselves can cause food to be contaminated with BPA. BPA is known as an EDC – or endocrine disrupting chemical. Intake of BPA in high doses can cause the body’s hormones to go haywire, which science has indicated can cause obesity and diabetes. [17] Note that the new “replacement” – BPS – which is sometimes found in products marked “BPA free” may also have problems. In short, you are better off with fresh foods if possible.


[1] Pongsavee, M. (2015). Effect of Sodium Benzoate Preservative on Micronucleus Induction, Chromosome Break, and Ala40Thr Superoxide Dismutase Gene Mutation in Lymphocytes. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4346689/

[2] Beezhold, B., Johnston, C. & Nochta, K. (2014). Sodium-benzoate-rich beverage consumption is associated with increased reporting of ADHD symptoms in college students: a pilot investigation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22538314

[3] Vandghanooni, S., et. al. (2013). Cytotoxicity and DNA fragmentation properties of butylated hydroxyanisole. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23413972

[4] Martin, J., et. al. (2014). The antioxidant butylated hydroxyanisole potentiates the toxic effects of propylparaben in cultured mammalian cells. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25086368

[5] Sharma, A., et. al. (2013). Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Consumption Is Associated with Urolithiasis and Urinary Tract Obstruction in Rats. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784461/

[6] Suez, J., et. al. (2014). Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbia. https://readcube.com/articles/10.1038/nature13793

[7] Kurokawa, Y., et. al. (1990). Toxicity and carcinogenicity of potassium bromate – a new renal carcinogen. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1567851/

[8] Ahmad, M. (2014). Potassium bromate causes cell lysis and induces oxidative stress in human erhythrocytes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22012894

[9] Goran, M., Ulijaszek, S. & Ventura, E. (2013). High fructose corn syrup and diabetes prevalence: a global perspective. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23181629

[10] Chung, M., et. al. (2014). Fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or indexes of liver health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25099546

[11] Bocarsly, M., et. al. (2010). High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20219526

[12][No authors listed]. Artificial food colouring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19882794

[13] Eugene Arnold, L., Lofthouse, N. & Hurt, E. (2012). Artificial Food Colors and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Symptoms: Conclusions to Dye for. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/

[14] Capuano, E. & Vincenzo, F. (2011). Acrylamide and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF): A review on metabolism, toxicity, occurrence in food and mitigation strategies. https://sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643810003798

[15] Wilson, K., et. al. (2011). Dietary acrylamide and risk of prostate cancer. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.26383/full

[16] Khan, W., et. al. (2013). Protective effect of polyunsaturated fatty acids on sodium nitrite induced nephrotoxicity and oxidative damage in rat kidney. https://researchgate.net/profile/Md_Wasim_Khan/publication/216206296 (PDF)

[17] vom Saal, F., et. al. (2012). The Estrogenic Endocrine Disruption Chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) and Obesity. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306519/

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