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7 Artificial Ingredients & Food Additives You Should Think Twice About

By Kelsey Banfield |

Unbromated flour

One of the things that scares me the most as a mom is how our food is modified with artificial ingredients and additives before it hits store shelves. There are so many harmful things that are injected into perfectly healthy food, rendering them unhealthy, before they are available to use for consumption. Despite research that links these ingredients to harmful side effects like tumors, cancer, ADHD and more, the FDA is refusing to completely ban them. So, the next best thing I can is do is to try my best to avoid them. Here are seven ingredients you should always try to avoid, or eat in severe moderation. I like to carry around a list of these preservatives to make sure they’re not in any of the ingredients lists of the foods I buy!

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7 Dangerous Artificial Ingredients & Food Additives to Avoid

MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate)

MSG is a common food additive that is considered a neurotoxin because it can overstimulate cells to death. It is found in many everyday foods, including deli meats and salad dressings. Heed warnings about consuming too much of it, and know the symptoms to watch for if you do, such upset stomach 15 after consuming the MSG, headaches, and arm or leg weakness. You can help eliminate MSG from your own diet by making some simple foods, like salad dressings, from scratch.
Make buttermilk ranch dressing, perfect for salads or as a dip

Photo: Brooke McLay

Some more interesting posts:

8 Fun & Effective Ways to Introduce New Foods to Picky Eaters

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Read more from Kelsey on Kelsey’s blog!

Follow Kelsey on Facebook and Twitter for updates


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About Kelsey Banfield


Kelsey Banfield

Kelsey Banfield is the food writer and the founder of The Naptime Chef. She writes a daily food column for Babble Food and her food writing has also appeared in the places like Parents magazine, and Martha Stewart Living. Kelsey lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and daughter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Kelsey's latest posts →

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14 thoughts on “7 Artificial Ingredients & Food Additives You Should Think Twice About

  1. joan says:

    I agree with the premise of the article–in addition to too much fat and too many calories, the American public consumes way too many artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. But the banner ad for Cool Whip above the blog post seems a bit out of place given the subject matter!

  2. Sandi says:

    Do you actually have any practical suggestions for people who have to work for a living as well as take care of a family? I’d rather not spend what little time I have whipping up vegetable cake my kids (and I) won’t eat, nor do I have time to make my own potato chips (which I don’t buy either). While the information about hinky food additives is always welcome, your suggestions for substitutions are ridiculous.

  3. Sandi says:

    Never mind. It’s pretty obvious that you aren’t writing this for someone in the $50,000-75,000 income bracket. Must be nice.

  4. Janet Darbey says:

    MSG actually brings on my celiac symptoms very quickly. Great article. Thank you!

  5. naptimechef says:

    Hi! Sandi, actually the ingredients for simple homemade salad dressings, potato chips (potatoes & oil), natural syrup (sugar & water), homemade bread, a single beet to make red dye are nearly half the cost of the store-bought stuff. Plus, if you buy the ingredients you can make nearly twice as much as what you can buy at the store for the same price!

  6. Janet says:

    For me it’s not the cost, but the time it takes to make homemade chips, bread, etc. I’d love to be able to do it, but I would rather spend the little time I get with my child with her and not in the kitchen. I do make some homemade items and then make them in bulk and freeze the extra portions, but it isn’t always possible. The part on the bromate free bread brands is more helpful than telling me to make my own bread, I’m glad you added that part in.

  7. Michelle says:

    I absolutely LOVE how just about every one of these “can cause cancer”. Yeah, so can walking outside, breathing the air, and taking in sunshine. So unless you want to live in a bubble… you are exposing yourself to cancer causing agents daily. Do we need to limit the use of these products.. yes. Wholeheartedly yes! Do we need to ban them altogether… no. Everything is fine in moderation. What’s happening is that people have forgotten about commons sense and want something to blame. If you want to make your own dies and food colorings, bake your own bread and make your own salad dressing, FANTASTIC! But some of us grew up on store bought bread, bottled salad dressing and more blue dye than you wish to know and guess what? So far… 34 years and never been diagnosed with cancer. I’m gonna eat what I want to eat (in moderation) and enjoy life. If cancer doesnt’ get me, the speeding car or the stray bullet will.. and i”ll go happily, diet mt dew in hand! :)

  8. AuroraLawson says:

    well, actually the first one says it all. Explains why I get a massive headache and feel like I’m going to throw up. The worst one was the three day headache from msg, and waking up on the third day to scared family members and paramedics. (I still had the headache and had my first ever seizure. I still have the seizures but that over dose was the trigger.) I am a low budget head of house hold, and if I have to go out of the way to stay alive, and keep my family healthy as well, it’s something I’m going to do. doesn’t matter about the money. It’s just common sense.

    Nice recipe!

  9. Cassie Virgin says:

    They use tricks to make you think stuff is healthy. Autolyzed yeast is another word for MSG.

  10. Not Cool With Cool Whip says:

    As Joan noted, this article is a little out of place with the Cool Whip banner ads (and sponsored recipes) on this site. The best way to avoid aspartame is to stay away from sugar-free foods, like sugar-free Cool Whip. And this is the first such list I’ve seen that doesn’t include high fructose corn syrup as something to avoid. Surely that’s not because HFCS is one of the first three ingredients in Cool Whip?

    We know ads are a necessary evil but perhaps Babble could draw the line at sponsored content that pushes junk food as family-friendly.

  11. Jen says:

    I have started shopping at Whole Foods Market and it has helped me make better choices

  12. Julie says:

    Very good article and no, this stuff is not fine in moderation! They are toxins and they have no business being in real food. I make everything from scratch now and yes, I work. If you have time to shop, you have time to prepare food. Maybe the people who feel their children need to eat chips can find some suitable snacks that would be healthier alternatives…..Ridiculous whining! I even make my own marshmallows! Took all of 10 minutes……

  13. elisa says:

    great article! thanks for all the tips and tricks….it really is simple to keep the junk out of our food, just read read read!

  14. Elaine Henderson says:

    I am in my upper 60′s yrs. old, I can remember a teacher telling us and writing it on the blackboard that msg was equivalent to – now it was either baking soda or baking powder. Does anyone know which it is? This is serious because I love baking, as many do and whichever should be avoided. My recollection sends me to baking powder.

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