Four man-made food additives to avoid for better health

August 10, 2013

Like mad scientists, food manufacturers have turned perfectly healthful food into chemistry experiments by adding dangerous ingredients that could destroy your quality of life and eventually kill you. Become a label reader and limit your consumption of these four things, and make a conscious decision to control your own health destiny.

Corn syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is a type of man-made liquid sugar that’s added to sodas and other sugary drinks and has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems. It’s unknown whether it reacts to the body differently than regular sugar, but its liquid form makes it a lot easier to consume massive quantities in a relatively short period of time. Just one regular soda could contain 35-50 grams of liquid sugar per 12-oz. serving, and with the average American drinking 52 gallons of soda a year, it’s a very serious issue.


Avoid drinking regular sodas and fruit juices that use high-fructose corn syrup and replace them with water, unsweetened teas and other natural beverages.


Organic sodium is found naturally in many foods and is essential to the function of the body, but when altered in a laboratory and used as a preservative, it can be a dangerous ingredient that can cause numerous health issues. This happens when food manufacturers strip the organic salt of its nutritional value and then add several chemicals, none of which have positive effects on the human body. The new chemically engineered sodium is added to foods in large quantities to improve taste and increase shelf life, but high amounts of this newly created frankensalt can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease and many other life-threatening conditions.


Avoid eating packaged foods that can last on shelves for long periods of time and replace them with fresh, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Also, replace iodized salt with sea salt and consume no more than 2,300 mg, or less than one tablespoon a day. You can also learn to spice foods with natural spices and herbs such as basil, dill, cinnamon and nutmeg.


Simple sugars do not occur naturally and are added to foods to make them taste better, but eating too much comes with a heavy price. Sugar is one of the main causes of the obesity epidemic in the United States, and it can wreak havoc on your health. Most experts consider a product that contains 10 grams or more per serving high in sugar, and to put things in perspective, the average soda has 40-50 grams per can. To make matters worse, there are more than 50 words used to describe sugar, such as corn syrup, cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, sucrose, glucose and syrup. In fact, any word that ends in "ose" should be considered suspect. Learn to identify these sugars and how much each product contains, and you will be well on your way to making better choices.


Eliminate simple sugars from your diet and substitute other natural sugars to spice up food, such as fruit juice and low-calorie sugar substitutes such as Sweetleaf and Truvia.

Trans fats

Trans fats were created in a laboratory by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil for the purpose of preventing the oil from spoiling and giving longer shelf life to foods, but it wasn’t long before it was discovered that hydrogenated oils - trans fats - dramatically increase the risk of heart disease by raising bad cholesterol and reducing good cholesterol, making them the perfect storm of unhealthy manufactured food. In recent years, the government has forced food companies to cut back on trans fats and list them on the labels, but they are still out there, so learn to identify them and limit your consumption.


Reduce the amount of crackers, cookies, cakes and fried foods you eat, and replace them with healthy alternatives. Learn to read labels and avoid products with hydrogenated oils.

Learning to read food labels can be difficult, but if you can learn to recognize these four dangerous food additives and eliminate them from your diet, you will be well on your way to improving your overall health.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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