Health Issues from Processed Foods

Health Issues from Processed Foods

Most people know that processed foods aren't the healthiest food options out there but many don't realize they can actually be the trigger for numerous health issues. Health issues from additives in processed foods are quite common and totally avoidable when you know what to look out for. Better yet, start consuming whole, clean unprocessed foods direct from nature to eliminate the risks.

12 Key Additives to Avoid and Their Health Risks

1. Hydrogenated fats (aka Trans Fats) are regularly found in processed foods, even those labeled as zero trans fat! in the United States if a food has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fat. Hydrogenated fats may lead to cardiovascular disease and obesity.

2. Artificial food colors. Processed foods are laden with artificial colors added to make foods seem more appealing after being processed. Artificial colors have been shown to lead to health issues such as allergies, asthma, and hyperactivity (ADD & ADHD); they are possible carcinogens.

3. Nitrites and nitrates found in most processed meats, lunch meat, bacon, etc are problematic as these substances can develop into nitrosamines in the body, which can be carcinogenic and cause health issues with the liver, bladder, and other organs often leading to toxic health effects. Studies have  also linked nitrosamines to cancer.

4. Sulfites (sulfur dioxide, metabisulfites, and others) can cause allergic and asthmatic reactions.

5. Sugar and sweeteners. These may lead to health issues like obesity, dental cavities, diabetes, and hypoglycemia as well as to increased triglycerides (blood fats) or candida (yeast).

6. Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K, and saccharin). These have been linked to behavioral health problems, hyperactivity, and allergies and they are possibly carcinogenic. The government cautions against the use of any artificial sweetener by children and pregnant women. Splenda™ (sucralose) has also been added to this list.

7. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is known for causing common allergic and behavioral reactions including headaches, dizziness, chest pains, depression, and mood swings; it is also a possible neurotoxin.

8. Preservatives (BHA, BHT, EDTA, THBQ, and others). These may cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and possibly cancer; BHT may be toxic to the nervous system and the liver.

9. Artificial flavors. These are often MSG in disguise and they may cause allergic or behavioral reactions.

10. Refined flour. Overloads your body with low-nutrient calories which may lead to health issues like obesity, carbohydrate imbalances, and altered insulin production.

11. Salt. Excess salt may lead to fluid retention and blood pressure increases.

12. Olestra (an artificial fat). This may cause diarrhea and digestive disturbances. Frito Lay now markets olestra containing foods as their Lay’s Light line.


  • Food waxes. The protective coatings applied to produce, as in cucumbers, peppers, and apples, may trigger allergies and can contain pesticides, fungicide sprays, or animal by-products.
  • Plastic packaging. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is carcinogenic and may cause immune reactions and lung irritation.

Info from Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M Haas, MD

Again, I always recommend consuming whole foods that don't have an ingredient label, meaning unprocessed foods. If you absolutely must reach for processed convenience foods, work to avoid the above top 12 additives shared above.

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