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10 Risky Ingredients You Should Be Avoiding on Food Labels

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Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are most common in processed meats, as the ingredients help them maintain their pink color. When consumed, sodium nitrite can mix with amino acids and turn into nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic, a Men’s Health article said.

Ingredient found in: Processed meats, ham, salami, Oscar Mayer hot dogs

6) MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG helps enhance the flavor of several foods. Although MSG is not banned by the FDA, they have received reports of symptoms including nausea, headache, weakness and heart palpitations from people who consumed foods with the ingredient.

Ingredient found in: Soup, canned vegetables, Chinese food

7) Parabens

Parabens, a common ingredient in cosmetics, can also be found in some foods. The ingredient works as a preservative to keep mold and bacteria out of food, but they can also harm the body’s hormonal balance.

Ingredient found in: Some fruits and vegetables, pastries, cakes, jelly coating on some meats

8) Castoreum

Castoreum is often difficult to find on food labels because it is typically listed as a “natural flavoring.” Although the FDA doesn’t see castoreum as harmful, many are grossed out by the ingredient because it comes from beavers’ castor sacs, located close to the anus.

Ingredient found in: Foods labeled with “natural flavoring” or “natural ingredients”

9) Potassium Bromate

Potassium bromate is illegal in several countries because studies have found the ingredient to cause cancer in rats and mice. The ingredient is most common in bread because it helps flour age quicker, whitens dough and makes bread more soft and fluffy. By the time bread is finished baking, there is hardly any potassium bromate left, but if bread isn’t cooked through enough or too much of the ingredient is added, it can be harmful.

Ingredient found in: Breads

10) Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavors offer no nutritional value because they are unnatural and chemically created.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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