5 Gnarly Food Preservatives to Avoid

Preservatives help keep processed food products fresh, or in the case of foods like ice cream, help to thicken them. However, not all of them are good for you. Here are five that you should avoid: benzoic acid, potassium sorbate, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, and BHA.

1. Benzoic acid (sodium benzoate)

Benzoic acid (sodium benzoate) is derived from the chemical benzene. It is used as to help prevent yeast growth, which can cause food to spoil. Short term studies of rats found disorders of the central nervous system after feeding high doses of benzoic acid. Other effects observed included reduced weight gain and changes in organ weights.

Read more about why sodium benzoate is so scary

2. Potassium sorbate

Potassium sorbate is derived from sorbic acid as a potassium salt. It is used to prevent mold, fungi and yeast growth. It is considered to be safe for human consumption, but has been linked to various side effects, including diarrhea and asthma

3. Polysorbate 80

Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in certain foods, including ice cream. Studies have linked it to infertility and anaphylactic shock.

4. Carrageenan

Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed, and is used to improve food texture. It is often used as a vegan alternative to gelatin. It can be found in a variety of food products, including dairy and plant based milks such as coconut milk. Studies have linked it to gastrointestinal problems and cancer.

5. BHA

BHA is short for butylated hydroxyanisole, and is added to prevent oxidation in foods with fats and oils. Based on evidence from studies on lab animals, it is considered to be a possible human carcinogen. In other words, it could cause cancer.

Read more about the preservative BHT

[Editor's Note: If you want to eliminate preservatives from your diet for good, click here to sign up for Naturally Savvy's Preservatives Get Healthy Challenge.]

Image: Johnathan Nightingale

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By Gina-Marie Cheeseman| February 02, 2015
Categories:  Eat
Keywords:  EatFood and Nutrition

About the Author

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer armed with a passion for healthy living and a degree in journalism. Hailing from the dry, sunny Central San Joaquin Valley, she hasn't let the heat fry her brain!

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