It is no accident that virtually every supermarket has the same layout. The perishables are always along the outside walls, and the nonperishables are found in the various aisles on the inside of the store. Freshness and expiration dates really matter to the grocery store, and a constant vigilance to those items ensures patrons that their safety is kept as a number-one concern.

The food that makes it to the inside of the store is a whole different story. In these processed foods, shelf life means everything. You should avoid the chemicals employed to extend shelf life at all costs. You can and should become a label reader to stay on the look out for these additives.

Here is a list of the ten most common food additives you should avoid:

Artificial Sweeteners

Whether the packet is blue, pink, or yellow, you are exposing yourself to aspartame (NutraSweet), sodium saccharine (Sweet’N Low), or sucralose (Splenda). Rather than describing the ways these sugar substitutes can adversely affect you, I’ll give you an idea of what sugar substitutes you should consider that do not have the potential side effects of the previously mentioned three items.

Agave nectar — 0 calories
The nectar is a product of the agave cactus with a taste and texture similar to honey. Agave is sweeter than sugar, so proponents suggest that you can use less to achieve a similar sweetness. It contains more fructose than table sugar, which according to a recent study is more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

Stevia leaf extract (Truvia) — 20 calories
Derived from the Stevia plant and deemed to be the natural alternative to artificial sweeteners, refined Stevia products (Truvia) won approval by the FDA in 2008. It is sold in most grocery stores.

Sutalin — 12 calories
This was recently introduced by a company called Boresha, and is a natural sweetener derived from white grape juice powder, pear fruit juice powder, and monk fruit extract.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
HFCS is a highly refined artificial sweetener, which has become the #1 source of calories in America. It is found in almost all processed foods. HFCS puts the pounds on faster than any other ingredient. It increases your LDL (bad cholesterol) and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and many restaurant foods. It is an excitotoxin–a substance that overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. It has been associated with depression, eye damage, fatigue, headache, and obesity.
Trans Fat
Trans fats are used to enhance and extend shelf life of food products, and are among the most dangerous substances you can consume. It is found in deep-fried fat foods, and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetables oils. Trans fats are known to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes and to increase inflammation.
Common Food Dyes

Artificial coloring found in soda, fruit juices, and salad dressings are known to cause behavioral problems in children, and lead to significant reduction in IQ. In animals, it has been linked to the development of cancer. The most offensive dyes are:

Blue dye #1 and Blue dye #2

Red dye #3 (banned in 1950 for use in foods and cosmetics but continued to be used until supplies ran out)

Yellow dye

Sodium Sulfite
This is a preservative used in wine-making and processed foods. According to the FDA, one in a hundred people is sensitive to sulfites in food. It is associated with asthma, as well as headaches, breathing, and rashes. They have, in severe cases, led to death by provoking the anaphylaxis of the respiratory system.
Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite
This is used as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring enhancer in bacon, ham, hot dogs, lunch meats, corned beef, smoked fish, and other processed meats. The ingredient, which sounds harmless, is highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. The USDA attempted to ban it in 1970, but it was vetoed by the food industry that claimed they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetables oils. This preservative keeps food from changing color, flavor or becoming rancid. The substances affect the neurological system of the brain, alter behaviors, and have the potential to cause cancer.
Sulfur Dioxide
Sulfur additives are toxic, the FDA has prohibited their use on raw fruit and vegetables in the United States. Adverse reactions include bronchial problems–particularly in those who are prone to asthma, hypotension, flushing, tingling sensations, and anaphylactic shock. They are found in beer, soft drinks, dried fruit juice, wine, vinegar, and potato products.
Potassium Bromate
This is an additive used to increase volume in some white flour, bread, and rolls. It is known to cause cancer in animals.

Shopping in the periphery of your supermarket will keep you clear of most but not all of these hazardous products. It is important to start reading labels to check that the food you are consuming is free of these dangerous additives. Focusing on buying and eating organic remains the goal; however you should also start trying to eliminate these additives from your diet today.

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