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Snack Food Confidential: The Truth About 9 Common Food Additives

Common Food Additives Explained

As food production has become increasingly industrial, a lot of strange ingredients have popped up in our foods. Tongue-twisters like phenylalanine and poloxamer 407 are commonplace, but the truth is, many of us don’t even know what they are. The folks over at The Daily Meal have rounded up some of the most common offenders, and we’ve added on a few of our own. Head below the jump to learn what’s really in your snack foods.

 

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  • Red #40 1 of 9
    Red #40
    The Center for Science in the Public Interest has called for a ban on this common dye, citing the link between food dyes and hyperactivity in some children. Look for red #40 in grocery store favorites from soda to waffles.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Mindmatrix
  • Corn Syrup Solids 2 of 9
    Corn Syrup Solids
    This common ingredient sounds strange, but it's really just powdered corn syrup. While corn syrup probably isn't too bad for you in moderation, foods that list corn syrup products in the first few ingredients should be avoided.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Tomas Moravec
  • Coconut, Palm Kernel, and Soybean Oils 3 of 9
    Coconut, Palm Kernel, and Soybean Oils
    This trio of commonly added oils are actually quite different from one another. What they have in common is the confusion and uncertainty surrounding them. In the past, conventional wisdom was that saturated fats like coconut and palm should be avoided, but recent studies have complicated the picture suggesting that their stability and high smoke point may make them better for you. Conversely, because it's an unsaturated fat, soybean oil has been considered good for you, but with its instability and low smoke point it may actually be worse for cooking.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Drmarathe
  • Phenylalanine 4 of 9
    Phenylalanine
    Commonly found in the form of aspartame, this artificial sweetener is found in thousands of products, including sugar free gum. For those suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic disorder, phenylalanine cannot be broken down by the body, and the build up of phenylalanine can cause brain damage or mental retardation. Others who should avoid this additive are those with sleep disorders, anxiety, tardive dyskinesia, or those taking certain medications.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Tim Vickers
  • Acetic Acid 5 of 9
    Acetic Acid
    Acetic acid is an organic compound and the main component of vinegar. It's used to regulate acidity in foods. It's also used in glue, film, and acetate.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: W. Oelen
  • Hydrogenated Oil 6 of 9
    Hydrogenated Oil
    Hydrogenation is a process by which liquid vegetable oils are made into solid fats like margarine, which makes them useful for baking. However, the trans fats that can be result are probably really unhealthy. So unhealthy, in fact, that they've been banned in Denmark.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Scott Bauer
  • Sorbitol 7 of 9
    Sorbitol
    Although it's perfectly fine in small naturally-occurring amounts in stone fruits, as an additive sorbitol can be a strong laxative that can even cause people to need to be hospitalized. Something to think about before you chew that sugar-free gum.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Kemikungen
  • Sodium Caseinate 8 of 9
    Sodium Caseinate
    Derived from milk, sodium caseinate is an essential ingredient in making cheese. As an additive, it can be used to boost the amount of protein in a food, making it popular with bodybuilders. But did you know it's also great for making paint and glue?
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Chedid
  • Poloxamer 407 9 of 9
    Poloxamer 407
    Poloxamer 407 is a chemical used to combine oils and water, which seems nice and all, but there's some evidence that by coating certain cells in the liver, it can also raise cholesterol, which is not so nice.
    For more interesting food additives, head over to The Daily Meal
    Image credit: Wikipedia

 

For more from The Daily Meal, check out Make This, Buy That, 11 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, and 10 Ways to Make Food Last Longer.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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