The Scariest Ingredients Lurking In Your Food

Food is a common necessity in our everyday life. We constantly have to make decisions about food for both ourselves and our families. While trying to decipher the labels while standing in the aisles of the grocery store, one might establish that many of the foods we consume are indeed made of some unexpected ingredients, and some that are just unpronounceable in the English language.

There are hundreds of little known facts about food out there, but we have picked the ones we think are both a bit intriguing and undoubtedly scary at the same time. Either way, we think that these facts are absolutely worth knowing about. So if you think you’re up for it, here we go.

Sodium Nitrate (also called Sodium Nitrite)

Why it’s Scary– This is a preservative, coloring, and flavoring commonly found in processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts and smoked fish. Studies have shown that it reacts with the body’s digestive acids to form a cancer-causing agent called nitrosamines.

Aspartame (aka NutraSweet/Equal)

Why it’s Scary– In scientific terms, this is a chemical combination of two amino  acids and methanol. It’s better known by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, which are sweeteners found in countless “diet” desserts, drink mixes, and soft  drinks. Aspartame was once thought to be a safe artificial sweetener, but it is now believed to cause cancer and neurological problems such as dizziness and hallucinations.


Why it’s Scary-This artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is often found in chewing gum and soft drinks. When tested in the laboratory, it caused cancer in rats.

Artificial Food Colorings

Why it’s Scary– There are food colorings being used that are linked with cancer in animal testing as well as behavioral disorders in children. These include  Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 and Yellow 6.  Amazingly, these colors have been banned in the United Kingdom yet remain in many American foods. They can easily be avoided by choosing natural foods that aren’t chemically or colorfully enhanced.


Why it’s Scary -Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is an amino acid used as a flavor  enhancer in many soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees and restaurant food. This nasty additive can tinker with the nervous system causing side effects like migraines and overeating in some individuals. MSG appears on labels under several aliases, including yeast extract and calcium caseinate. It’s even been found on the labels of organic products! Here’s a list of the common aliases for MSG.

Trans Fats

Why it’s Scary– Trans fats cause heart disease. It’s a proven fact. Before purchasing any packaged food, check the ingredients list. Even if the label boasts “0g trans fats” BEWARE… The product may still contain up to a 0.5g of trans fats per serving, if you see the words partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list. It’s important to avoid even the smallest amount because it can raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, making you susceptible to all kinds of health problems!

Sodium Benzoate

Why it’s Scary -Sodium Benzoate is a preservative used in many foods and beverages. This ingredient is known to cause hives, asthma and other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. New research shows that it may also cause  behavioral disorders in children. One more reason to avoid this harmful  ingredient: When used in beverages that also contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) it forms benzene, a known carcinogen. Some drink manufacturers are still using this toxic duo, so you may have benzene lurking in your favorite drink!

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Why it’s Scary -High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined artificial sweetener which has become the number one source of calories in America. It is found in almost all processed foods. HFCS packs on the pounds faster than any other ingredient, increases your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects. Found in: most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals.

Potassium Bromate

Why it’s Scary– An additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals. Even small amounts in bread can create problems for humans.

BHA and BHT (E320)

Why it’s Scary- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body. Found in: Potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening


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