Food Preservatives You Should Avoid And Why

What is in the Food You Eat? The question is not making reference to nutrients found in your food, but rather the added ingredients that are not food at all. These ingredients are referred to as food preservatives.

Food preservatives are introduced during the processing of foodsFood preservatives are introduced during the processing of foods to enhance the taste and shelf life.

Many of these added ingredients are dangerous or damaging to your health, both physically and emotionally.

There is a lot of debate and little conclusion about what are safe quantities of additives in any given processed and packaged food item.

The types of processed and packaged foods that contain artificial flavor-enhancing and preserving ingredients are those most likely to be eaten very regularly and in large amounts. These toxins may not be readily expelled by the body and the effects can be cumulative.

These food preservatives can rob your body of good health. Let's see what these food preservatives are, and what they do to the health of your body.

Avoid Ingesting The Following Food Preservatives


Butane is certainly not just used for cigarette lighters anymore.  You can also find butane in some chicken nuggets.  Butane acts as an artificial antioxidant that food manufacturers use to keep chicken nuggets fresh.

Butane is also present in other frozen and packaged foods such as crackers, cereal bars and chips. So, the next time you’re craving for some chicken nuggets, perhaps you might like to make some homemade ones.

Propylene Glycol

Because of its low chronic oral toxicity, propylene glycol is recognized as safe by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a direct food additive, including frozen foods such as ice cream and frozen desserts.

Propylene glycol is the same substance used in cosmetics, deodorant and anti-freeze for cars.

Beware of this antifreeze chemical when buying cake mixes, low-fat ice creams, dog food, salad dressings, and many more processed foods.

Although it is definitely good for your vehicle, it isn’t as good for your health.

Potassium Benzoate

Many people love drinking diet sodas as they want to quench their thirst whilst not drinking a lot of sugary calories. A diet soda is certainly sweet and bubbly yet it is also an unhealthy concoction.

When exposed to heat and light, some products that contain both potassium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can produce benzene, a known carcinogen that can cause cancer in humans.

Additionally, this food preservative is present in low-fat salad dressing, canned olives, syrups, apple cider and jams. So read your labels before purchasing.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a salt derived from benzoic acid, and is bacteriostatic and fungistatic under acidic conditions. It is most widely used in acidic foods such as salad dressings (vinegar), carbonated drinks (carbonic acid), jams and fruit juices (citric acid), pickles (vinegar), and condiments.

According to, the commonly reported side effects of sodium benzoate/sodium phenylacetate include: infection, respiratory tract disease, central nervous system disease, disorder of lymphatic system, hematologic disease, nutrition disorder, and vomiting.

Professor Peter Piper, scientific researcher on aging, molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield, conducted a test on living yeast cells with soft drinks that contained sodium benzoate.

The tests revealed that sodium benzoate caused damage to the mitochondria, which plays a critical role in the generation of metabolic energy in an eukaryotic cell.

These chemicals, the professor reports, have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.


Aspartame is the technical name for NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure among others.

As of 2008, the sugar substitute a non-nutritive, intense artificial sweetener was found in more than 6,000 products, consumed by over 100 million people worldwide. Some of these products that are consumed on a daily basis include:

  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Chewable vitamins
  • Sugar-free cough drops
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Tabletop sweeteners
  • Yogurt

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Link here to see the full list: Aspartame-Containing Foods And Beverages

Aspartame is a neurotoxin, having negative effects on the brain.

Because your immune system see's the artificial sweetener as a foreign substance, will attack it which in return, will trigger an inflammatory response.

Aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious, including seizures and death.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.

James and Phyllis Balch, authors of the book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, lists aspartame as a chemical poison.

Scientific research has identified the adverse effects of aspartame that can put an individual at risk of the following:

  • Brain Tumors/cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Mental Retardation
  • Lymphoma
  • Birth Defects
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes

Propyl Paraben

Propyl paraben has been scientifically proven to be a endocrine-disrupting chemical. The food additive acts as a weak synthetic estrogen. It can also alter the expression of genes, including those in breast cancer cells, as well as accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells.

In 2013 scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health linked propyl paraben to impaired fertility in women.

Studies found that rats fed the FDA's maximum limit for propyl paraben in food had decreased sperm counts. At this dose researchers also noted small decreases in testosterone, which become significant with higher exposures.

Propyl paraben is used as a preservative in foods such as tortillas, muffins and food dyes. People can be exposed to it either as a direct additive or as result of contamination during food processing and packaging.

Samples of processed foods collected from 2008 to 2012 found propyl paraben in more than half of the marketed beverages, dairy products, meat and vegetables.

In a federal study, 91% of Americans tested had detectable levels of propyl paraben in their urine.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Nitrites and nitrates are commonly used as coloring agents, preservatives and flavoring. They are used as preservatives in cured deli meats like bacon, salami, sausages and hot dogs.

Nitrites are able to form from nitrates, which react with amines, a naturally occurring component of protein. This reaction forms nitrosamines, which have been reported as cancer-causing compounds.

Nitrosamines can form in nitrite or nitrate-treated meat or in the digestive tract.

Ingestion of nitrates by infants has been shown to lower levels of oxygen in the blood, leading to the potentially fatal blue-baby syndrome. And several studies have shown that consumption of nitrate-contaminated water can cause cancers in animals.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer reported to the World Health Organization (2010) that ingested nitrites and nitrates are human carcinogens.

The National Cancer Institute reported in 2012 on the  risks of colon, kidney, and stomach cancer among people with higher ingestion of water nitrate and higher meat intake compared with low intakes of both, a dietary pattern that results in increased NOC formation.

The Institute also reported that other studies have shown modest evidence that higher nitrate intake can increase the risk of thyroid cancer and ovarian cancer among women, and elevate the risk of pancreatic cancer among men and women.

Some nutritious foods like leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, cabbage, celery and some root vegetables, such as beets, naturally contain high concentrations of nitrates. But human studies on nitrate intake from such vegetables have found no association with any known cancers.

Potassium Bromate

Potassium bromate is an oxidizing agent used to strengthen bread products, which help it to rise during baking.

In 1990 the journal Environmental Health Perspective reported that potassium bromate is carcinogenic in rats and nephrotoxic (damaging or destructive to the kidneys) in both humans and animals when given orally. Potassium bromate also induces renal cell tumors, mesotheliomas of the peritoneum, follicular cell tumors of the thyroid, and can damage DNA.


BHT (butylated hydroxytoulene) and BHA (butylated hydroxyanysole) are both petroleum-derived antioxidants that slow down oil rancidity. For this reason they are both used to preserve foods that contain oils and fats. They not only protect the flavor, but also make for a longer shelf life.

bha and bht used in foods to protect flavorThe two compounds act synergistically and are often used together.

Some scientific studies have shown BHA to be carcinogenic in rats, and the National Institutes of Health's National Toxicology Program concludes that BHA can be "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

The Department of Health and Human Services has reported BHT and BHA as known carcinogens. And the FDA still allows them in processed food preparation.

BHT has also been shown to cause developmental effects and thyroid changes in animals, suggesting that it may be able to disrupt endocrine signaling.

A 1981 study on the neurobehavioral of rats exposed to BHT throughout development reported negative effects on the rat’s motor skills and coordination before they were weaned.

A wide variety of foods contain both BHT and BHA, including chips and preserved meats. It is also added to fats and to foods that contain fats and is allowed as a preservative in flavoring.


Phosphates are frequently added to unhealthy highly processed foods, including fast foods. Medical studies have shown that people with high phosphate levels and who have chronic kidney disease, were linked to heart disease, and including early death.


Read The Labels To Avoid Food Preservatives

Read the packaged food LabelKnowing about the existence of food preservatives in the foods you buy is the first step towards making your diet a healthier one.

The biggest step is applying that knowledge. Read the labels and leave the artificial additives on the shelf, and chose a more natural option.

To improve your family’s dietary health, avoid packaged or processed foods as much as possible. Opt for natural and whole foods.

You may find it hard to forego those foods that contain these food preservatives. But once you do, you will actually find that you lose the cravings for many of these unhealthy processed foods.

Healthy food selection, like all good habits, is one certainly worth developing.

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