10 Harmful Food Preservatives And Their Side Effects

Written by Ameya C • 

Did you know that your favorite canned tuna contains harmful preservatives that can lead to complications? Did you know that instant or ready-to-eat food is one of the worst things you can have to eat? Well, it’s true! Preservative agents are usually added to a food to prevent bacteria growth and spoilage of the food, but sometimes these chemicals can induce harmful reactions or even be noxious and toxic on their own.

There are numerous harmful effects of food preservatives which you should be aware of. So, would you like to know what the ten most harmful preservatives are? Then read this post.

Stay aware. Stay cautious.

Harmful Food Preservatives And Their Side Effects

1. Propyl Gallate

Propyl gallate is generally used in meat products, pickles, sauces and even chewing gums. It is a harmful preservative that can cause complications at birth and even lead to liver damage in the long run. It can also lead to many other problems including breathing ailments and is banned in many countries (1).

2. Sulfites

These compounds are usually used to preserve dry fruits, canned fruits, corn syrup, pepper, canned olives and wine and vinegar. These compounds lead to varied side effects like palpitations, allergic reactions like asthma and rhinitis (2). Sulfites also induce joint pain, headache, and can even cause cancer in some cases.

[ Read: Benefits Of Organic Vegetables ]

3. Brominated Oils

These oils are used to preserve bottled juice for extended periods of time. Brominated juice is used quite widely and can lead to potential damaging and serious side effects. Brominated oils can trigger changes in heart tissue, kidney damage, thyroid swelling, increase fatty deposits in your liver and can even cause withered testicles. Many countries have insisted that brominated oils be banned for preserving bottled drinks (3).

4. Propylene Glycol And Carboxymethylcellulose

These two preservatives are regular additives of ice cream. Propylene glycol is usually used as an antifreeze and a paint remover. It is the more sinister chemical out of these two preservatives, and many countries have discontinued its use. The other preservative mentioned here, carboxymethylcellulose, is a stabilizer. It is usually used in salad dressing, cheese spread, and chocolate milk. A study on rats concluded that carboxymethylcellulose instigates tumor production. CNS depression is one of the major side effects of propylene glycol (4).

5. Mono-Glycerides And Di-Glycerides

These chemicals are usually used to preserve foods like cakes, pies, cookies, bread and peanut butter. Mono and Di-Glycerides also help preserve other foods like roasted nuts, veggies packed with sauce and even margarine. Monoglycerides regularly feature on the list of bad or unhealthy fats (5).

[ Read: Is It Safe To Freeze Food In Plastic Containers ]

6. Sodium Nitrate

This is another harmful food preservative used to preserve meat. Sodium Nitrate is added to most forms of processed meat like bacon, ham, and sausage. This nitrous acid is quite dangerous for the body and can lead to stomach cancer. European nations like Norway and Germany have banned sodium nitrate’s use as a food preservative (6).

7. Maleic Hydrazide

This preservative is usually added to potatoes to keep them from sprouting. It is a known chemical inhibitor and can even lead to cancer.

8. Bromates

This is the most commonly used preservative in white flour and bread. It can induce diarrhea and destroys nutrients.

9. Citric Acid (Made Using Sulfuric Acid)

Citric acid is an essential nutrient that is found in abundance in most citrus foods. However, citric acid created using sulfuric acid is quite harmful and can lead to allergic reactions. This product makes citric acid dangerous for you if you are prone to allergies. Consider using naturally occurring citric acid; it is the more natural and safer option.

10. Benzoates

These preservatives are usually added to pickle, margarine, fruit puree and juices. Benzoates can induce allergies and even lead to brain damage.

These food preservatives increase the shelf life of food in grocery stores, but the effects of preservatives on human health vary. Now that you know about the harmful effects of food preservatives and their names, remember to check those ingredients carefully when you do shop for processed food.

To warn our fellow readers about any other toxic preservatives, leave a comment below.

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Ameya C


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