Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vintage Recipe - Perfect Corn Bread

Today's recipe comes from the 1905 cookbook, A Little Cook Book for a Little Girl by Caroline French Benton.

Perfect Corn Bread

1 large cup of yellow corn-meal.
1 small cup of flour.
1/2 cup of sugar.
2 eggs.
2 teaspoonfuls of baking-powder.
3 tablespoonfuls of butter.
1 teaspoonful of salt.
Flour to a thin batter.

Mix the sugar and butter and rub to a cream; add the yolks of the eggs, well beaten, and then half a cup of milk; then put in the baking-powder mixed in the flour and the salt, and then part of the corn-meal, and a little more milk; next fold in the beaten whites of the eggs, and if it still is not like ``a thin batter,'' put in a little more milk. Then bake in a buttered biscuit-tin till brown, cut in squares and serve hot. This is particularly good eaten with hot maple syrup.

Vintage Recipe - Cocoa Sponge Cake

Today's vintage recipe comes from the cookbook, Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes by Miss Parloa. I own this cookbook and love it, even though it is tattered and dogeared - I received it as a gift from a friend about 15 years ago. According to my penciled notes above the recipe, I made this recipe on July 16, 1999 and rated it as tasty.


3 eggs,
1 ½ cups of sugar
½ a cup of cold water
1 teaspoonful of vanilla
1 ¾ cups of flour
¼ a cup of Baker's Cocoa
2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder
1 teaspoonful of cinnamon.

Beat yolks of eggs light, add water, vanilla and sugar; beat again thoroughly; then add the flour, with which the baking powder, cocoa and cinnamon have been sifted. Fold in the stiffly beaten whites of the eggs. Bake in a rather quick oven for twenty-five or thirty minutes.

Vintage Recipe - Escalloped Corn

Today's Vintage Recipe comes from The Country Kitchen Cookbook published in 1894.

Escalloped Corn
Prepare an entire meal in the oven when you use this recipe. Small potatoes can be baked in this time: meat loaf, pork chops, or steaks taste good with the corn.
2 cups whole-kernel corn (fresh, canned, or frozen)
1 cup cold milk
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs beaten
1 1/2 cups soda cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients in a 1 1/2 quart buttered baking dish and bake in a preheated, 350 degree F. oven for 40 minutes. Yield 5 to 6.

Vintage Recipe - Lady Cake

Today's Vintage Recipe comes from an early Canadian cookbook published by Holt. This vintage recipe is from The Golden Age Cookbook by Henrietta Latham Dwight and was published in 1898.

Lady Cake

Half a cup of butter, one cup of granulated sugar, half a cup of milk, two cups of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, the whites of four eggs, and a teaspoonful of almond extract. Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, stir the milk into one cup of the flour and add to the butter and sugar, then the whites of eggs beaten to a stiff froth. Sift the baking powder and remaining cup of flour together, add to the other ingredients with the teaspoonful of almond extract. If baked in a loaf it will require three-quarters of an hour or more.

Vintage Recipe - Mary's Potato Salad

Today's Vintage Recipe comes from a cook book with a really long title:
Mary at the Farm and Book of Recipes Compiled during Her Visit among the "Pennsylvania Germans by Edith M. Thomas and it was published in 1915.

A bowl of cold, boiled, diced or thinly-sliced potatoes, three 3 hard boiled eggs, also diced, and about half the quantity of celery chopped in half-inch pieces, and a little minced onion, just enough to give a suspicion of its presence. She mixed all together lightly with a silver fork and mixed through some of the following salad dressing, which is fine for anything requiring a cold salad dressing.

One tablespoonful of flour, 1 tablespoonful of mustard, 2 cups of sweet or sour cream, 1 tablespoonful of sugar, ½ cup of good sharp vinegar, yolks of four eggs, small teaspoonful of salt. Omit sugar when using the dressing for potato or chicken salad. This salad dressing may also be used for lettuce.

Victory Garden Idea

It’s just starting to warm up a little bit, but I’m already thinking of the coming growing season. What with the fluctuation of food prices, colony collapse disorders (some beekeepers are replacing their American honeybees with foreign bees- notably some from Australia, which are more aggressive than Western bees… fantastic!) and my general, healthy dose of skepticism, it’s a good time to get ready to plant. I’m thinking that cilantro, chives, lemon balm, strawberries, tomatoes, cukes, carrots, red peppers, green peppers, Thai basil, and some squash with a little lettuce thrown in should be a good start… May have to increase the size of the plot sometime…and purchase a box of ladybugs and some marigolds.

MICROWAVE COOKING is Killing People!

By Stephanie Relfe B.Sc. (Sydney)

Microwave cooking is one of the most important causes of ill health. It is certainly one of the most ignored.

There was a lawsuit in 1991 in Oklahoma. A woman named Norma Levitt had hip surgery, but was killed by a simple blood transfusion when a nurse "warmed the blood for the transfusion in a microwave oven!"

Logic suggests that if heating is all there is to microwave cooking, then it doesn't matter how something is heated. Blood for transfusions is routinely warmed, but not in microwave ovens. Does it not therefore follow that microwaving cooking does something quite different?

A little evidence of the harm caused by microwaving cooking was given by the University of Minnesota in a radio announcement:

"Microwaves ... are not recommended for heating a baby's bottle. The bottle may seem cool to the touch, but the liquid inside may become extremely hot and could burn the baby's mouth and throat... Heating the bottle in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk. In infant formulas, there may be a loss of some vitamins. In expressed breast milk, some protective properties may be destroyed.... Warming a bottle by holding it under tap water or by setting it in a bowl of warm water, then testing it on your wrist before feeding, may take a few minutes longer, but it is much safer".

There have been very few scientific studies done on the effect of eating food microwaved food. This is rather surprising when you think about the fact that microwaves have been with us for only a few decades - and that in that time the incidence of many diseases has continued to increase.

Two researchers, Blanc and Hertel, confirmed that microwave cooking significantly changes food nutrients. Hertel previously worked as a food scientist for several years with one of the major Swiss food companies. He was fired from his job for questioning procedures in processing food because they denatured it. He got together with Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Biochemistry and the University Institute for Biochemistry.

They studied the effect that microwaved food had on eight individuals, by taking blood samples immediately after eating. They found that after eating microwaved food, haemoglobin levels decreased. "These results show anaemic tendencies. The situation became even more pronounced during the second month of the study".

Who knows what results they would have found if they had studied people who ate microwaved food for a year or more?

The violent change that microwaving causes to the food molecules forms new life forms called radiolytic compounds. These are mutations that are unknown in the natural world. Ordinary cooking also causes the formation of some radiolytic compounds (which is no doubt one reason why it is better to eat plenty of raw food), but microwaving cooking causes a much greater number. This then causes deterioration in your blood and immune system.

Lymphocytes (white blood cells) also showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants.

Another change was a decrease in the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values.

Each of these indicators pointed to degeneration

The results were published in "Search for Health" in the Spring of 1992. How was this research greeted? A powerful trade organisation, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry somehow made the President of the Court of Seftigen issue a `gag order'. Hertel and Blanc were told that if they published their findings they would face hefty fines or up to one year in prison. In response to this, Blanc recanted his findings. Hertel, on the other hand, went on a lecture tour and demanded a jury trial.

FINALLY, in 1998 the Court `Gag Order' was removed. In a judgment delivered at Strasbourg on 25 August 1998 in the case of Hertel v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Hertel's rights in the 1993 decision. The Court decided that the `gag order' prohibiting him form declaring that microwaved food is dangerous to health was contrary to the right to freedom of expression. In addition, Switzerland was sentenced to pay compensation of F40,000.


After the World War II, the Russians also experimented with microwave ovens. From 1957 up to recently, their research has been carried out mainly at the Institute of Radio Technology at Klinsk, Byelorussia. According to US researcher William Kopp, who gathered much of the results of Russian and German research - and was apparently prosecuted for doing so (J. Nat. Sci, 1998; 1:42-3) - the following effects were observed by Russian forensic teams:

1. Heating prepared meats in a microwave sufficiently for human consumption created:
* d-Nitrosodiethanolamine (a well-known cancer-causing agent)
* Destabilization of active protein biomolecular compounds
* Creation of a binding effect to radioactivity in the atmosphere
* Creation of cancer-causing agents within protein-hydrosylate compounds in milk and cereal grains;
2. Microwave emissions also caused alteration in the catabolic (breakdown) behavior of glucoside - and galactoside - elements within frozen fruits when thawed in this way;
3. Microwaves altered catabolic behavior of plant-alkaloids when raw, cooked or frozen vegetables were exposed for even very short periods;
4. Cancer-causing free radicals were formed within certain trace-mineral molecular formations in plant substances, especially in raw root vegetables;
5. Ingestion of micro-waved foods caused a higher percentage of cancerous cells in blood;
6. Due to chemical alterations within food substances, malfunctions occurred in the lymphatic system, causing degeneration of the immune system=s capacity to protect itself against cancerous growth;
7. The unstable catabolism of micro-waved foods altered their elemental food substances, leading to disorders in the digestive system;
8. Those ingesting micro-waved foods showed a statistically higher incidence of stomach and intestinal cancers, plus a general degeneration of peripheral cellular tissues with a gradual breakdown of digestive and excretory system function;
9. Microwave exposure caused significant decreases in the nutritional value of all foods studied, particularly:
* A decrease in the bioavailability of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotrophics
* Destruction of the nutritional value of nucleoproteins in meats
* Lowering of the metabolic activity of alkaloids, glucosides, galactosides and nitrilosides (all basic plant substances in fruits and vegetables)
* Marked acceleration of structural disintegration in all foods.

As a result microwave ovens were banned in Russia in 1976; the ban was lifted after Perestroika.

Standing in front of a microwave is also highly damaging to your health. Perhaps you have already felt this intuitively? We know that cells explode in the microwave - just fry an egg in your microwave. We are made up of trillions of cells. So work out how many are getting damaged if you stand in front of your microwave for 5-10 minutes.

In the past I had been told that it was important for people to stop eating microwaved food, but I did not pay too much attention to this because I had been microwave cooking for years. I never thought much about it but I suppose that I figured that if something was so bad for us, then there wouldn't be so many people using it. Little did I know.

When I first began seeing clients for sessions of kinesiology, I did not worry too much about telling them to give up eating microwaved food. However, I kept a record of all of the corrections that were needed for each client when they came in. Now, once a correction is made, it is to be hoped that the correction will stay in place for a long time to come, hopefully months if not years. People often ask me "How long will it last?" May answer to them is "That depends on your lifestyle".

Most of my clients came back to see me after about two weeks. In the early days I found that many who came back were not much better. I found that they were again `out of balance'. That is, their electrical circuits were not working correctly (which is common for many people). It was therefore not surprising that they were not much better, because the body does not begin to fully fix itself until the electrical circuits are in balance.

The question was, why did their electrical circuits go out of balance? The answer had to be something that was highly stressful, to effect the body in such a short space of time. Once that answer was remedied, the client would begin to get better. Using muscle testing, I went through the process of testing if the cause was electrical, chemical/nutritional, emotional or structural. Again and again the same answer would come up - electrical. When I then went through a range of possible electrical causes, the same answer again came up again and again - the person had eaten microwaved food! Incidentally, this answer never came up when a person had NOT eaten microwaved food.

I began to tell all of my clients on the first visit that under NO circumstances were they ever to do microwaved cooking again. That includes heating up food or even water in a microwave oven. (Microwaves work on the water in the food). I gave this a higher priority than any of things that are normally considered as health risks, such as cigarettes or alcohol. Immediately I began to get a marked improvement in the results I was getting. Long term problems such as headaches, back aches and emotional instability went away within a few weeks.

Other kinesiologists can confirm these results. David Bridgman, who has years of experience as a kinesiologist, said "Of all the people I test for allergies, 99.9% so far show severe sensitivity to any microwaved food".

I experienced the effect of eating microwaved food for myself one time. I had been doing quite a lot of kinesiology and feeling on top of the world when for no apparent reason I began to feel rather `grey' and rather low. I realised that I needed a balance from a kinesiologist. Sure enough, I was out of balance. When the kinesiologist used muscle testing to see why my body had gone out of balance, the answer came up ... microwaved food! The trouble was, I couldn't remember eating any. Until I remembered a particular vegetarian restaurant I had been to. When I went back to the restaurant and asked them if they microwaved their food, they told me that they did.

So be warned! Many restaurants use microwaved cooking, even `health' restaurants. Ask if the "steamed vegetables" are in fact steamed - or are they microwaved? I have sent meals back when they have not been what they were described on the menu, much to the surprise of the restaurant owners.

The alternative to heating up or defrosting food is to place it in a saucepan with a little water and lid. Or use a convection oven.


Sent to me by a reader: Hello Folks. Hopefully all of you are already well enough informed so as to avoid the use of a microwave oven due to the many detrimental effects consuming microwaved food has upon our health, but "just in case", here is some interesting info sent to me by Ron Scanlon -- many thanks, Ron! Cheers, Doug

University of California, Davis Medical Center 2315 Stockton Boulevard, Sacramento, California 95817

As a seventh grade student, Claire Nelson learned that di(ethylhexyl)adepate (DEHA), considered a carcinogen, is found in plastic wrap. She also learned that the FDA had never studied the effect of microwave cooking on plastic-wrapped food. Three years later, with encouragement from her high school science teacher, Claire set out to test what the FDA had not.

Although she had an idea for studying the effect of microwave radiation on plastic wrapped food, she did not have the equipment. Eventually, Dr. Jon Wilkes at the National Center for Toxicological Research agreed to help her. The research center, which is affiliated with the FDA, let her use its facilities to perform her experiments, which involved microwaving plastic wrap in virgin olive oil.

Claire tested four different plastic wraps and "found not just the carcinogens but also xenoestrogen was migrating [into the oil]...." Xenoestrogens are linked to low sperm counts in men and to breast cancer in women. Throughout her junior and senior years, Claire made a couple of trips each week to the research center, which was 25 miles from her home, to work on her experiment. An article in Options reported "her analysis found that DEHA was migrating into the oil at between 200 parts and 500 parts per million. The FDA standard is 0.05 parts per billion."

Her summarized results have been published in science journals. Claire Nelson received the American Chemical Society's top science prize for students during her junior year and fourth place at the International Science and Engineering Fair (Fort Worth,Texas) as a senior. "Carcinogens --At 10,000 Times FDA Limits" Options, May 2000. Published by People Against Cancer, 515-972-4444

So, it's up to you. One point to bear in mind is that our society runs pretty much on money. The multinational companies who make microwave ovens make a lot from the sale of them. There is no money in telling people to stop microwave cooking. There is, however, the satisfaction of knowing that you are saving people's lives and future happiness by spreading the word to stop eating microwaved food.


You can heat food quickly in a convection oven. It's just an ordinary oven with a fan.

You can also easily and quickly heat up food, even frozen pasta, by using a saucepan with a lid and a little water, to moisten it from the steam.

If someone is coming home late, and you want to give them warm food when they arrive, put a saucepan lid over the food while it is on a plate. Put the plate of food on a simmering saucepan of water. It will stay warm without drying up.

If you want to cook food, do it the old fashioned ways - it tastes much better that way!

Much of the above information is from an article in the 1994 edition of Acres Magazine, USA, by Tom Valentine.

PO Box 8800, Metairie, Louisiana 70011, USA


Grocery Warning: The Seven Most Dangerous Ingredients in Conventional Foods

Do you know which seven dangerous food ingredients to watch out for in your groceries? These are the "deadly seven," as I call them, and they can directly promote heart disease, migraines, obesity, outrageous food cravings, osteoporosis, diabetes and even birth defects.

The top three most dangerous ingredients I've found in my research are:

1) Sodium nitrite -- causes cancer, found in processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage. Used to make meats appear red (a color fixer chemical).

2) Hydrogenated oils -- causes heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, general deterioration of cellular health, and much more. Found in cookies, crackers, margarine and many "manufactured" foods. Used to make oils stay in the food, extending shelf life. Sometimes also called "plastic fat."

3) Excitotoxins -- aspartame, monosodium glutamate and others (see below). These neurotoxic chemical additives directly harm nerve cells, over-exciting them to the point of cell death, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock. They're found in diet soda, canned soup, salad dressing, breakfast sausage and even many manufactured vegetarian foods. They're used to add flavor to over-processed, boring foods that have had the life cooked out of them.

Want to know more about the genuine dangers posed by toxic food ingredients and additives? I'll share more with you in this email, but first let me invite you to check out the tell-all book I've written on the subject: "Grocery Warning."

Grocery Warning exposes the truth that food companies will never admit to and the mainstream media will never print (because they receive advertising funds from food companies, of course!).

It reveals, in shocking detail, exactly which ingredients compromise your health (and how they do it). Based on thousands of hours of research, and quotations from the top doctors, authors and nutritionists, Grocery Warning tells you the truth about foods and groceries that will empower you with life-changing information.

Did you know, for example, that:

* Feeding children hot dogs increases their risk of brain cancer by 300%? * Strawberry yogurt, fruit punch and other red-looking grocery products are often colored with dead, ground-up cochineal beetles? The ingredient is called "carmine," and it's made from insects. It's listed right on the label of many of your favorite foods.
* Food companies now "hide" MSG in safe-sounding ingredients like yeast extract or torula yeast?
* Many Florida oranges are actually dipped in an artificial orange dye in order to make them more visually appealing? It's the same dye that's been banned for use in foods because of cancer risk.
* Girl Scout cookies are still made with hydrogenated oils that contain trans fatty acids?
* Many so-called "healthy" or vegetarian foods also contain the very same offending ingredients as conventional groceries?
* Eating just one serving of processed meats each day increases your risk of pancreatic cancer by 67%?
* One artificial color additive causes behavioral disorders in children? And that 80% of children diagnosed with ADHD can be outright cured of the condition in two weeks by avoiding certain ingredients?
* The #1 ingredient in Slim Fast meal replacement shake (powder form) is sugar?
* Some guacamole dips don't even contain avocado? Instead, they're made with hydrogenated soybean oil and artificial colors. Everything I'm sharing here is absolutely true. It's all quite shocking, yes, but this is information you need to know if you want to feed yourself -- and your family -- foods that actually promote health instead of disease.

Check out the Grocery Warning System, complete with my book, audio bonus CD, reference charts, research compendium and more:

The truth about metabolic disruptors

Nearly all modern diseases are caused by what I call "metabolic disruptors." These are common ingredients, such as white flour and sugar, that prevent your body from healing. Unfortunately, metabolic disruptors are used in almost all commercially prepared foods, which means most products on your grocer's shelves contribute to poor health. But if you know what to look for, you can fill your cart with foods that will help you live a longer more vibrant life.

That's why I created the Grocery Warning System. This system will give you the information you need to make the healthiest shopping choices at the grocery store. You'll learn which ingredients have been linked to disease, as well as important nutrients that have been shown to prevent and reverse cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other degenerative diseases.

Here's what else you'll find in Grocery Warning:
* Which common ingredient has been shown to ravage the cardiovascular system and promote heart disease while destroying brain cells. *
* Why some popular beverages have been linked to blindness and seizures, dementia, Alzheimer's and behavioral disorders. *
* How a single food ingredient is killing more than 30,000 Americans each year and yet remains perfectly legal due to food industry politics and influence on federal regulators. *
* How food manufacturers alter natural fats and convert them into disease-promoting ingredients that ravage your health and make it virtually impossible to lose weight, no matter what you eat! *
* The one natural, alternative sweetener that has no calories, no blood sugar effects, no chemical toxicity, and tastes great! *
* What "homogenized" means on milk products and the shocking truth of how this artificial alteration of dairy fats poses a very real threat to your health. *
* How to reverse osteoporosis and other bone disorders through dietary and lifestyle changes that create high-density bones throughout your body. *
* The truth behind the margarine scam and how the food industry convinced an entire nation to eat disease-promoting margarine for decades, based on shoddy scientific evidence and political influence. *
* The one natural oil that's lacking from the diets of virtually all Americans, but can significantly improve brain function. *
* Why at least one prominent doctor is accusing the FDA of committing crimes against humanity for not protecting the public from the immediate health dangers posed by three different ingredients found in virtually every grocery store. To find out more about the Grocery Warning System, visit:

Back to the "hidden" ingredients

So how do food companies manage to hide excitotoxins and taste additives to their foods? It's easy: They just keep changing the words to confuse consumers. Once customers learned to avoid MSG / monosodium glutamate, the food companies started using yeast extract.

And now, two years after I started sounding the alarm on yeast extract, many companies have switched to "torula yeast," which accomplishes the same thing. Other hidden sources of MSG include:

. Autolyzed vegetable protein . Hydrolyzed vegetable protein

The ingredients "stacking" trick

Food companies also use the ingredients stacking trick to intentionally leave you with the wrong impression about what's really in their food products.

For example, one company makes a nutrition bar that's absolutely loaded with sugar, but they way they've arranged the ingredients prevents sugar from appearing as the #1 ingredient. Instead, the first ingredient is rice. But looking down the label, you'll find all the following forms of sugar, all in the same nutrition bar:

. Sugar . Sucrose . High-fructose corn syrup . Corn syrup solids . Dextrose

Add all these up, and the #1 component in the bar is, indeed, sugar (or sugary substances). But the manufacturer has used ingredients stacking to make you think the top ingredient is actually rice.

It's a clever, dishonest technique used by food companies to lie with food labels.

Remember, the longer the ingredients label, the less healthy the food. Read those ingredients lists before buying foods, and if you discover chemical names that you can't pronounce, don't buy the food!

Learn more with Grocery Warning:

To your health, - Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

How To Fight Adult Acne With Vitamins

There has been lots of buzz in acne forums about using vitamins to treat adult acne. I'll cover briefly the most common vitamins for acne.

For our purposes vitamins could be divided into two groups: co-enzymes (B vitamins) and antioxidants (A, C & E vitamins). These groups have significantly different functions. Co-enzymes are necessary for the proper activation of various biochemical reactions. Antioxidants work as protection mechanism, they protect the body against the effect of many toxic substances. More specifically they protect the body against free radicals. According to a large number of medical studies vitamin C is also boosts immune system and kills bacteria and virus in the body.
Antioxidants - Vitamin C And E

Vitamin C is by far the most important 'adult acne fighting' vitamin. When it comes to adult acne the main functions of vitamin C are:

* Antioxidant - vitamin C prevents/ reduces the damage toxins to do cells.
* Detox agent - vitamin C removes toxins and other pollutants from your body

Most of the animals manufacture their own vitamin C and there is evidence that stress, trauma and disease will increase vitamin C production.

"For example an adult goat will manufacture more than 13,000 mg of vitamin C per day in normal health and as much as 100,000 mg daily when faced with life-threatening disease, trauma or stress."

Vitamin C seems to also act as a protective agent in the body. For example seminal fluid (sperm) contains 8 times the vitamin C as the blood does. Current medical research says that vitamin C protects the DNA in sperm against mutation and damage by free radicals.

Vitamin C is also used as a part of many detox programs, for example Dr. Janet Hull recommends taking Vitamin C in her 10 Days Detox Program.

For more information in vitamin C please go to

Vitamin E acts also as an antioxidant. The main difference between vitamins C and E is that vitamin C is water-soluble and vitamin E fat-soluble. When taken in excess the fat-soluble vitamins accumulate in the fatty tissues. According to current medical understanding fat-soluble vitamins are more dangerous when taken in 'mega doses'. Even though there is very little evidence about the dangers of vitamin E overdose, doesn't mean that 'mega doses' of vitamin E would actually be healthy.

The damage caused to the liver (which is one of the root causes of adult acne) by toxins, bacteria and parasites is largely due to free radicals. Vitamin C, E and other antioxidants could play an important role in reversing and preventing adult acne.

Co-Enzymes - Vitamin B

B vitamins are also important in fighting and preventing acne. Among other things, B vitamins are essential for:

* Digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
* Maintenance of healthy skin, nerves and digestive tract
* Production of red blood cells
* Manufacture of sex hormones

In short B vitamins are absolutely necessary for proper functioning of the body and indirectly may affect adult acne.

In my opinnion the fact that B vitamins are involved in digestion makes them very important 'acne fighting'- vitamins. A typical Western diet is chronically deficient in most vitamins and the body is forced to use its vitamin reserves to compensate. Over time these reserves will empty out, digestion slows and the road eventually leads to acne.

Unlike vitamin C a large doses of vitamin B are not likely going to help you in anyway. B vitamins are required to activate different chemical reactions in the body. However, once the body has enough vitamin B available additional amounts will not help you in anyway.

Vitamin B actually consits of 8 different vitamins. Since these vitamins generally work in combination and are required in precise balance it doesn't make sense to separate them.

B vitamins are water-soluble and according to current medical understanding (which may change as scientists and doctors learn more) excess amounts of vitamin B will be lost in urine. As such there seems to be few, if any, known dangers of taking too much vitamin B.

However, please understand that B vitamins don't work alone. When a specific B vitamin (like B5) activates a biochemical reaction (like digestion of fats) other B vitamins (for example B1, B2 and B12) and possibly other vitamins are also required. So a 'mega dose' of a specific vitamin B may lead to deficiencies in other vitamins and thus health problems. You can read more about this here: adult acne and vitamin B5.

Few the B vitamins have received plenty of attention among acne victims; vitamin B5 as a adult acne treatment and vitamins B6 and B12 as contributing to acne.

Hidden, Toxic Ingredients In Everyday Foods That Promote Acne

What do you think happens when you mix profits with food? Do you think that food companies care more about your health or increasing their profits? What happens when the regulatory agencies (that are supposed to police the industry and protect you) health are influenced by the very industry they are policing?

You get what Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, calls "metabolic disruptors".

These are common ingredients, such as white flour and sugar, that prevent your body from healing, promote acne, outrageous cravings among other health problems. Unfortunately, metabolic disruptors are used in almost all commercially prepared foods. But if you know what to look for, you can fill your cart with foods that will help you live a longer more vibrant life.

If you want to prevent acne, have a clear skin and vibrant health stay away from these.

Sodium nitrite

This little baby is used to color most of the meat sold in supermarkets (and other retail outlets). An old meat generally has putrid, gray color, which, retailers understand is not so attractive. To counter this issue they add sodium nitrite to the meat to color it red - to give an illusion that it's fresh.

The thing that they conveniently don't mention is that sodium nitrite is HIGHLY carcinogenic. In fact it's used in cancer research. When researches want to inflict mouse with a cancer they inject sodium nitrite into the mouse.

It's believed that the carcinogenic effect of eating meat is more to due to the added sodium nitrite than saturated fat in meat.

Here are couple of links to more info about sodium nitrite:

Sugar and sugar substitutes

I believe that sugar is directly contributing to acne. Harmful bacteria in the digestive track (and other parts of your body) strive on sugar. They ferment sugar and convert it to toxic waste.

Sugar is also highly acidifying. I'm sure you remember that harmful, acne-causing bacteria require an acidic environment to survive. Eating or drinking sugar directly contributes to well being of the 'bad guys'.

Sugar is not just sugar, it comes in many forms and names. Look for these:

* Sucrose (table sugar)
* Raw sugar
* Brown sugar (is 91 to 96% sucrose)
* High fructose corn syrups
* Fructose (fruit sugar - fruits eaten whole and on empty stomach are ok)
* Dextrose or glucose
* Lactose (milk sugar)
* Sorbitol, Mannitol, Malitol, and Xylitol
* Anything with the ending "ose"

Sugar substitutes are probably more dangerous than sugar itself. Here's a good article on dangers of common sugar substitutes:

Look for the following items:

* Aspartame
* Sucralose
* Acesulfame-K
* Saccharin

Practically all the processed foods in supermarkets contain some amounts of sugar, but there are two food items that rise above the rest in sugar content:

* Sodas, canned fruit juices and other sugary drinks
* Candy, candy bars and other sweets

Just eliminating those will cut a huge amount of sugar out of your diet, and should be among your first priorities. Look out for sugar in other food items also, but cut those out first.

The only safe sweetener I'm aware of is stevia. It's a herb that is very much sweeter than sugar and it doesn't degrade your health. It's so sweet that you have to use only few drops of it, so it works out to be dirt cheap also.

Hydrogenated oils

Sugar and hydrogenated oils compete for the top spot in the extremely toxic ingredients that are in almost all foods.

Hydrogenated oils are man-made artificial fats that are extremely toxic. Using hydrogenated oils in foods is a strategy used by manufacturing companies to enhance the taste of their foods, add calories to their foods and extend the shelf life and shelf stability of those foods. This all adds up to higher profits for food companies.

Hydrogenated oils cause a cell-by-cell failure of the human body by destroying the porosity and flexibility of healthy cell membranes. It's like tearing your body down from the inside out.

There's plenty of information about the dangers of hydrogenated oils in the Internet. Just type it to Google and see. Here are good articles on hydrogenated oils: The health dangers of trans fats have been known for decades, yet food companies still poison customers with hydrogenated oils
Trans-Fat: What Exactly is it, and Why is it so Dangerous?
Trans Fats: The Science and the Risks

Here's a list of foods that commonly contain hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated oils also come in many names:

* hydrogenated oils
* partially hydrogenated oils
* trans fats
* shortened fats or oils

If you see any of the above mentioned words on the ingredients label of the foods - run!

Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG)

You probably already know about this extremely toxic ingredient. It's said to be more toxic than any other food toxin, poison or allergen. Some patients have stronger reactions to MSG than arsenic or mercury.

Unfortunately the food industry doesn't want you to know about this 'little gem'. for this reason MSG is not required to appear on the ingredients label of food products as MSG. However if you find the following names in the label you can be sure that it includes MSG:

* hydrolyzed vegetable protein
* autolyzed yeast extract

These are the most common names, but there are many other names. Check this web site for more information (look for the link 'Hidden names for MSG' at the left hand side: MSG Myths

Just by making sure that you eliminate MOST sources of sugars and sugar substitutes, hydrogenated oils and MSG you are already long way in winning your battle against acne.

Surprise Ingredients in Fast Food

The movie Supersize Me has probably had more of an effect than the producers anticipated. Since then, in the fast food industry, there has been a market trend promoting menu items that appear to be healthy. But most of these menu items have ingredients that health conscious consumers would prefer to avoid.

Most health conscious consumers consider healthy foods to be things like raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and clean meats like wild Alaskan salmon, or free-range chicken or turkey.

Some ingredients that health conscious consumers consider unacceptable are MSG (or free glutamate, or free glutamic acid, including anything hydrolyzed or autolyzed), trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils [3]), artificial colors, artificial flavors, and most preservatives.

Many so-called healthy fast food menu items, upon closer inspection, do not live up to the health hype. Most of the meat from any of the major chains has anything but a simple ingredients list. They add emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, artificial colors, trans fats, and hidden ingredients under generic labels such as spices, or natural and artificial flavors.

Some of these food additives are not foods at all, but are chemicals that are generally recognized as safe. Most of these additives cannot be found at your local grocery store, probably because they aren't food. But some can be found at your local hardware store, though in inedible products like low tox antifreeze, silicone caulk, soap, sunscreen, and play sand.

The ingredient information in this article came straight from the various fast food restaurants' web sites.


The egg's reputation is recovering, but scrambled eggs as a part of McDonald's breakfast include much more than egg. Their pasteurized whole eggs have sodium acid pyrophosphate, citric acid, and monosodium phosphate (all added to preserve color), and nisin, a preservative. To top it off, the eggs are prepared with liquid margarine: liquid soybean oil, water, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils (trans fats), salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil (trans fat), soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, and beta carotene (color). Though not all bad, these added chemicals may be the reason why homemade scrambled eggs taste so much better than McDonald's.

For coffee drinkers, it would seem fairly safe to just grab a quick cup of coffee at McDonald's on the way to work. But many health conscious people would object to it also including this list of ingredients: sodium phosphate, sodium polyphosphate, Di-Acetyl Tartrate Ester of Monoglyceride, sodium stearoyl lactylate, tetra sodium pyrophosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium citrate, and carrageenan. Do health nuts still drink coffee?

Salads can usually be counted on to be a "what you see is what you get" item. But McDonald's adds some interesting ingredients. The salads with grilled chicken also have liquid margarine.

Several salads have either cilantro lime glaze, or orange glaze added. Along with many of McDonald's sauces, both the cilantro lime glaze and the orange glaze contain propylene glycol alginate. While propylene glycol is considered "GRAS" for human consumption, it is not legal for use in cat food because the safety hasn't been proven yet [10]. Propylene glycol is also used "As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to capture ground beetles" [10].

The chili lime tortilla strips that are included in the southwest salads have several ingredients used to hide MSG. They also contain two ingredients that advertise the presence of MSG: disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate.

The chicken has sodium phosphates (of an unspecified variety). It could be trisodium phosphate (a cleanser), monosodium phosphate (a laxative), or disodium hydrogen phosphate [11]. Why would McDonald's add sodium phosphates (a foaming agent), and dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent in their crispy chicken breast fillets? It isn't dishwasher detergent.

Burger King

It's interesting to note that the BK Veggie Burger has six ingredients commonly used to hide free glutamate (MSG): calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed corn, yeast extract, soy protein isolate, spices, and natural flavors. At the end of the ingredients list, it states This is NOT a vegan product. The patty is cooked in the microwave. Was that a warning statement?

Burger King has three salads to choose from. The TENDERCRISP Garden Salad, the TENDERGRILL Garden Salad, and the Side Garden Salad.

A salad may be a little boring without a dressing like Ken's Fat Free Ranch Dressing which includes titanium dioxide (an artificial color, or sunscreen, depending on use), preservatives, and the ingredient seemingly mandatory in all ranch dressings: monosodium glutamate.

Once again, as is typical with the fast food industry, they took a simple thing like chicken, and added a long list of ingredients.

Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Spices, Natural Flavors, Onion Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Chicken Fat, Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Citric Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dehydrated Garlic, and Artificial Flavors.), Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil, Salt, Sodium Phosphates. Glazed with: Water, Seasoning [Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Methylcellulose, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Partially Hydrogenated Sunflower Oil, Modified Potato Starch, Fructose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dehydrated Garlic, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Chicken Fat, Carmel Color, Grill Flavor (from Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil), Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Turmeric, Smoke Flavor, Annatto Extract, and Artificial Flavors], Soybean Oil. [12]

Taco Bell

Taco Bell's website didn't have much emphasis on health. Under the nutrition guide, at the bottom was a link to Keep it Balanced, a token nod to health. It had no serious information on how to really eat healthy. They recommend foods like pizza and tacos (no surprise) because they may include ingredients from several food groups at once. Including several food groups does not necessarily mean it's a healthy food.

The seasoned beef, carne asada steak, spicy shredded chicken, and even the rice all include autolyzed yeast extract (hidden MSG). Disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are flavor enhancers used in synergy with MSG [7,8]. Therefore, menu items with disodium inosinate and/or disodium guanylate also contain MSG. This includes the avocado ranch dressing, southwest chicken, citrus salsa, creamy jalapeno sauce, creamy lime sauce, lime seasoned red strips, pepper jack sauce, and seasoned rice.

According to Wikipedia, dimethylpolysiloxane is optically clear, and is generally considered to be inert, non-toxic, and non-flammable. It is used in silicone caulk, adhesives, and as an anti-foaming agent [6]. Appetizingly enough, it's also included in Taco Bell's rice.


At Wendy's, there are several tempting salads. The mandarin chicken salad seems healthy at first glance. It has diced chicken, mandarin oranges, almonds, crispy noodles, your choice of dressings, and five different varieties of lettuce. Then reality takes a bite when you check the ingredients list. The almonds are roasted and salted. The crispy noodles are not whole grain. The mandarin orange segments are not freshly peeled oranges; most likely canned. The diced chicken has added autolyzed yeast extract (MSG), disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, sodium phosphates (soap?), salt, more salt, sugar, modified cornstarch (sic)[1], and the universal umbrella ingredient list: spices, natural flavors, and artificial flavors.

In the ingredients lists for the salad dressings, one surprise was titanium dioxide in the Low Fat Honey Mustard Dressing and the Reduced Fat Creamy Ranch Dressing. It's a very versatile chemical. It can be used to manufacture paint, sunscreen, semiconductors, and food coloring [2].

Wendy's Southwest Taco Salad is a salad with Wendy's chili. Once again, the chili has hidden MSG: autolyzed yeast extract, spices, artificial flavors, natural flavorings, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (MSG give-aways). It's puzzling to try to understand why their chili would need to include an anti-caking agent such as silicon dioxide (also known as sand, or glass powder).

See if you can spot the sunscreen, MSG, and soap in this Wendy's ingredient:

Seasoned Tortilla Strips
Whole Corn, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following: corn, soybean or sunflower oil), Salt, Buttermilk Solids, Spices, Tomato, Sweet Cream, Dextrose, Onion, Sugar, Cheddar Cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes), Corn Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Nonfat Dry Milk, Garlic, Torula Yeast, Citric Acid, Autolyzed Yeast, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Artificial Colors (including extractives of paprika, turmeric and annatto, titanium dioxide, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1), Disodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Soy Lecithin. CONTAINS: MILK.

Apparently, taste really is all that matters at Wendy's.


If a sandwich is advertised as healthy, one would expect that the bread would be whole grain. Not so with Subway's wheat bread. While it does have some whole wheat flour, it's the third ingredient, listed just before high fructose corn syrup [4]. None of Subway's breads are whole grain. Ammonium sulfate (a fertilizer) is also added. Unfinished sandwiches may be composted. The bread also contains azodicarbonamide. From Wikipedia,

Use of azodicarbonamide as a food additive is banned in Australia. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive has identified azodicarbonamide as a respiratory sensitiser (a possible cause of asthma) and determined that products should be labeled with May cause sensitisation by inhalation [5].

Most of the meats at Subway contain MSG and/or sodium nitrite.


The chicken, the gravy, and even the rice all have monosodium glutamate added. Not surprisingly, the chicken in the salads also has MSG. For a healthy menu item, the House Side Salad without dressing has nothing more than iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes.

KFC claims 0g trans fat per serving for all their fried chicken. But The Extra Crispy Chicken, Colonel's Crispy Strips, HBBQ Wings, Boneless HBBQ Wings, Fiery Buffalo Wings, and more have partially hydrogenated soybean oil listed in the ingredients. So if the trans fat content is below 0.5g per serving, they can round down to zero and claim zero grams per serving.

In Closing

The salad a la carte may be the only healthy thing to eat at a fast food place. The side salads offered at the fast food places are hardly a meal, and hardly what one would consider a real salad.

Regarding MSG, it is helpful to remember this statement from Wikipedia when reading food labels.
Under current FDA regulations, when MSG is added to a food, it must be identified as monosodium glutamate in the label's ingredient list. If however MSG is part of a spice mix that is purchased by another company, the manufacturer does not have to list the ingredients of that spice mix and may use the words flavorings or spices. Even food that uses the no msg label may therefore have MSG that is added from a spice mix from another company under current FDA regulations.[9]

As with most meat products in fast food restaurants, consider any meat, including on salads, to include MSG, chemical preservatives, and trans fats. Even seemingly simple items like rice can have ingredients like anti-foaming agents.














So What Really Is In A McDonald's Chicken McNugget?

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is a fascinating book that details the changing eating habits of Americans. I can't recommend it highly enough. It explains how, over the last 30 years, we have become a nation that eats vast quantities of corn – much more so than Mexicans, the original "corn people."

Most folks assume that a chicken nugget is just a piece of fried chicken, right? Wrong! Did you know, for example, that a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget is 56% corn?

What else is in a McDonald's Chicken McNugget? Besides corn, and to a lesser extent, chicken, The Omnivore's Dilemma describes all of the thirty-eight ingredients that make up a McNugget – one of which I'll bet you'll never guess. During this part of the book, the author has just ordered a meal from McDonald’s with his family and taken one of the flyers available at McDonald’s called "A Full Serving of Nutrition Facts: Choose the Best Meal for You." These two paragraphs are taken directly from The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

“The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, I counted thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There's some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.

According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the "leavening agents": sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid.

Then there are "anti-foaming agents" like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it's also flammable. But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness."

According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”

Italicized since I'm adding this to the original author's piece:
Chicken Nuggets: Chicken, water, salt, modified corn starch, sodium phosphates, chicken broth powder (chicken broth, salt, and natural flavoring (chicken source)), seasoning (vegetable oil, extracts of rosemary, mono, di- and triglycerides, lecithin). Battered and breaded with water, enriched bleached wheat flour (niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, modified corn starch, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dried whey, corn starch. Batter set in vegetable shortening. Cooked in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, (may contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated corn oil and/or partially hydrogenated canola oil and/or cottonseed oil and/or sunflower oil and/or corn oil). TBHQ and citric acid added to help preserve freshness. Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an anti-foaming agent.

(Dimethylpolysiloxane is a toxic ingredient. Google this to see it for yourself.)

Bet you never thought that was in your chicken McNuggets!


Brown Seaweed Contains Promising Fat Fighter, Weight Reducer

ScienceDaily — Chemists in Japan have found that brown seaweed, a flavor component used in many Asian soups and salads, contains a compound that appears in animal studies to promote weight loss by reducing the accumulation of fat. Called fucoxanthin, the compound achieved a 5 percent to 10 percent weight reduction in test animals and could be developed into a natural extract or drug to help fight obesity, the researchers say.

• Seaweed
• Kelp
• Brown rice
• Bran

The compound targets abdominal fat, in particular, and may help reduce oversized guts, the scientists say. Their study was presented at the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Fucoxanthin is a brownish pigment that gives brown seaweed its characteristic color and also conducts photosynthesis (the conversion of light to energy). It is found at high levels in several different types of brown seaweed, including a type of kelp that is used in traditional Japanese miso soup. But fucoxanthin is not found in abundance in green and red seaweed, which also are used in many Asian foods, the researchers say.
The brown seaweed used in the current study was Undaria pinnatifida, a type of kelp also known as wakame, which is widely consumed in Japan. As kelp forests are found in abundance along the California coast, the new research findings could represent a potentially lucrative market if kelp -- of which there are many varieties -- can be developed into effective anti-obesity drugs, according to the scientists.
"I hope that our study [points to a way to] help reduce obesity in the U.S. and elsewhere," says study leader Kazuo Miyashita, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at Hokkaido University in Hokkaido, Japan. The compound appears to fight fat through two different mechanisms, he says.
The study involved more than 200 rats and mice. In obese animals fed fucoxanthin, the compound appeared to stimulate a protein, UCP1, that causes fat oxidation and conversion of energy to heat, Miyashita says. The protein is found in white adipose tissue, the type of fat that surrounds internal organs. As the abdominal area contains abundant adipose tissue, the compound might be particularly effective at shrinking oversized guts, the researcher says. This is the first time that a natural food component has been shown to reduce fat by targeting the UCP1 protein, he says.
The pigment also appeared in animal studies to stimulate the liver to produce a compound called DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, at levels comparable to fish oil supplementation. Increased levels of DHA reduce 'bad cholesterol' (low density lipoprotein), which is known to contribute to obesity and heart disease. But unlike fish oil supplements, fucoxanthin doesn't have an unpleasant smell, Miyashita says. No adverse side effects from fucoxanthin were reported in the mice and rats used in the study.
But eating lots of seaweed is not the quickest or most convenient path to weight loss, Miyashita cautions. He notes that a person would probably need to eat huge amounts of brown seaweed daily to cause noticeable weight loss. That's because fucoxanthin is tightly bound to proteins in the seaweed and is not easily absorbed in the form of whole seaweed. However, he hopes to extract the most active form of fucoxanthin from brown seaweed so that it can be developed into a pill that people can take daily or as needed.
Human studies are planned, the researcher says, but adds that it may take three to five years before such an anti-obesity pill is available to consumers. Until then, people should continue to eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of exercise, he says. Funding for the current study was provided by the Japanese government.

Adapted from materials provided by American Chemical Society. American Chemical Society (2006, September 19). Brown Seaweed Contains Promising Fat Fighter, Weight Reducer. ScienceDaily.

Two Nutrients Stop Blindness:

Lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients found in eggs, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables may protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness among the elderly.

The study involved 4,519 people aged 60 to 80 who were questioned about their dietary habits for a period of six years.

Participants who ate the most foods containing lutein and zeaxanthin (those in the top fifth) had a 35 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who ate the least (in the bottom fifth).

The nutrients may protect against the condition by helping your eyes to filter dangerous short-wavelength light, and warding off other potentially damaging effects to the center of your eye’s retina (the macula).

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, which are responsible for the yellow color in many fruits and vegetables.

Over 1 million Americans, particularly those older than 65, have AMD.

Archives of Ophthalmology September 2007, Vol. 125 No. 9

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chemical Cuisine: Food Additives

Introduction to Food Additives..

Shopping was easy when most food came from farms. Now, factory-made foods have made chemical additives a significant part of our diet. Most people may not be able to pronounce the names of many of these chemicals, but they still want to know what the chemicals do and which ones are safe and which are poorly tested or possibly dangerous. This listing provides that information for most common additives. A simple general rule about additives is to avoid sodium nitrite, saccharin, caffeine, olestra, acesulfame K, and artificial coloring. Not only are they among the most questionable additives, but they are used primarily in foods of low nutritional value. Also, don’t forget the two most familiar additives: sugar and salt. They may pose the greatest risk because we consume so much of them. Fortunately, most additives are safe and some even increase the nutritional value of the food. Additional information about some of the additives is available elsewhere in this Web site. Use the search engine provided to locate that information.

ANTIOXIDANTS retard the oxidation of unsaturated fats and oils, colorings, and flavorings. Oxidation leads to rancidity, flavor changes, and loss of color. Most of those effects are caused by reaction of oxygen in the air with fats.

CARCINOGEN is a chemical or other agent that causes cancer in animals or humans.

CHELATING AGENTS trap trace amounts of metal atoms that would otherwise cause food to discolor or go rancid.

EMULSIFIERS keep oil and water mixed together.

FLAVOR ENHANCERS have little or no flavor of their own, but accentuate the natural flavor of foods. They are often used when very little of a natural ingredient is present.

THICKENING AGENTS are natural or chemically modified carbohydrates that absorb some of the water that is present in food, thereby making the food thicker. Thickening agents "stabilize" factory-made foods by keeping the complex mixtures of oils, water, acids, and solids well mixed.
Cancer Testing

Chemicals usually are tested for an ability to cause cancer by feeding large dosages to small numbers of rats and mice. Large dosages are used to compensate for the small number of animals that can be used (a few hundred is considered a big study, though it is tiny compared to the U.S. population of 270 million). Also, the large dosages can compensate for the possibility that rodents may be less sensitive than people to a particular chemical (as happened with thalidomide). Some people claim that such tests are improper and that large amounts of any chemical would cause cancer. That is not true. Huge amounts of most chemicals do not cause cancer. When a large dosage causes cancer, most scientists believe that a smaller amount would also cause cancer, but less frequently. It would be nice if lower, more realistic dosages could be used, but a test using low dosages and a small number of animals would be extraordinarily insensitive. It would also be nice if test-tube tests not using any animals were developed that could cheaply and accurately identify cancer-causing chemicals. While some progress has been made in that direction, those tests have not proven reliable. Thus, the standard high-dosage cancer test on small numbers of animals is currently the only practical, reasonably reliable way to identify food additives (and other chemicals) that might cause cancer.

The Delaney Clause is an important part of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. That important consumer-protection clause specifically bans any additive that "is found to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal." The food and chemical industries are seeking to weaken or repeal that law.
Alphabetical Listing of Additives

Safe. The additive appears to be safe.

Cut back on this. Not toxic, but large amounts may be unsafe or promote bad nutrition.

Caution. May pose a risk and needs to be better tested. Try to avoid.

Certain people should avoid these additives.

Everyone should avoid. Unsafe in amounts consumed or is very poorly tested and not worth any risk.

ACESULFAME-K... Artificial sweetener: Baked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, soft drinks. This artificial sweetener, manufactured by Hoechst, a giant German chemical company, is widely used around the world. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. In the United States, for several years acesulfame-K (the K is the chemical symbol for potassium) was permitted only in such foods as sugar-free baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. In July 1998, the FDA allowed this chemical to be used in soft drinks, thereby greatly increasing consumer exposure.

The safety tests of acesulfame-K were conducted in the 1970s and were of mediocre quality. Key rat tests were afflicted by disease in the animal colonies; a mouse study was several months too brief and did not expose animals during gestation. Two rat studies suggest that the additive might cause cancer. It was for those reasons that in 1996 the Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the FDA to require better testing before permitting acesulfame-K in soft drinks. In addition, large doses of acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Hopefully, the small amounts in food are not harmful.
ALGINATE, PROPYLENE GLYCOL ALGINATE... Thickening agents, foam stabilizer: Ice cream, cheese, candy, yogurt. Alginate, an apparently safe derivative of seaweed (kelp), maintains the desired texture in dairy products, canned frosting, and other factory-made foods. Propylene glycol alginate, a chemically-modified algin, thickens acidic foods (soda pop, salad dressing) and can stabilize the foam in beer.
(Vitamin E) ... Antioxidant, nutrient: Vegetable oil. Vitamin E is abundant in whole wheat, rice germ, and vegetable oils. It is destroyed by the refining and bleaching of flour. Vitamin E prevents oils from going rancid. Recent studies indicate that large amounts of vitamin E may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS. Most artificial colorings are synthetic chemicals that do not occur in nature. Because colorings are used almost solely in foods of low nutritional value (candy, soda pop, gelatin desserts, etc.), you should simply avoid all artificially colored foods. In addition to problems mentioned below, colorings cause hyperactivity in some sensitive children. The use of coloring usually indicates that fruit or other natural ingredient has not been used.

* BLUE 1 ... Artificial coloring: Beverages, candy, baked goods.

Inadequately tested; suggestions of a small cancer risk.

* BLUE 2 ... Artificial coloring: Pet food, beverages, candy.

The largest study suggested, but did not prove, that this dye caused brain tumors in male mice. The FDA concluded that there is "reasonable certainty of no harm."

* CITRUS RED 2 ... Artificial coloring: Skin of some Florida oranges only.

Studies indicated that this additive causes cancer. The dye does not seep through the orange skin into the pulp. No risk except when eating peel.

* GREEN 3 ... Artificial colorings: Candy, beverages.

A 1981 industry-sponsored study gave hints of bladder cancer, but FDA re-analyzed the data using other statistical tests and concluded that the dye was safe. Fortunately, this possibly carcinogenic dye is rarely used.

* RED 3 ... Artificial coloring: Cherries in fruit cocktail, candy, baked goods.

The evidence that this dye caused thyroid tumors in rats is "convincing," according to a 1983 review committee report requested by FDA. FDA’s recommendation that the dye be banned was overruled by pressure from elsewhere in the Reagan Administration.

* RED 40 ... Artificial coloring: Soda pop, candy, gelatin desserts, pastry, pet food, sausage.

The most widely used food dye. While this is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse tests were flawed and inconclusive. An FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not "consistent" or "substantial." Like other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods.

* YELLOW 5 ... Artificial coloring: Gelatin dessert, candy, pet food, baked goods.

The second most widely used coloring causes mild allergic reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons.

* YELLOW 6 ... Artificial coloring: Beverages, sausage, baked goods, candy, gelatin.

Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third most widely used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. In addition, small amounts of several carcinogens contaminate Yellow 6. However, the FDA reviewed those data and found reasons to conclude that Yellow 6 does not pose a significant cancer risk to humans. Yellow 6 may also cause occasional allergic reactions.

ARTIFICIAL AND NATURAL FLAVORING ... Flavoring: Soda pop, candy, breakfast cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods. Hundreds of chemicals are used to mimic natural flavors; many may be used in a single flavoring, such as for cherry soda pop. Most flavoring chemicals also occur in nature and are probably safe, but they are used almost exclusively in junk foods. Their use indicates that the real thing (often fruit) has been left out. Companies keep the identity of artificial (and natural) flavorings a deep secret. Flavorings may include substances to which some people are sensitive, such as MSG or HVP.

ASCORBIC ACID (Vitamin C), SODIUM ASCORBATE... Antioxidant, nutrient, color stabilizer: Cereals, fruit drinks, cured meats. Ascorbic acid helps maintain the red color of cured meat and prevents the formation of nitrosamines, which promote cancer (see SODIUM NITRITE). It helps prevent loss of color and flavor by reacting with unwanted oxygen. It is used as a nutrient additive in drinks and breakfast cereals. Sodium ascorbate is a more soluble form of ascorbic acid.

ERYTHORBIC ACID is very similar to ascorbic acid, but has no value as a vitamin. Large amounts of ascorbic acid may reduce the severity of colds and offer other health benefits.

ASPARTAME ....Artificial sweetener: "Diet" foods, including soft drinks, drink mixes, gelatin desserts, low-calorie frozen desserts, packets Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), made up primarily of two amino acids, was thought to be the perfect artificial sweetener, but questions have arisen about the quality of the cancer tests, which should be repeated. Some persons have reported adverse behavioral effects (dizziness, hallucinations, headache) after drinking diet soda, but such reports have not been confirmed in controlled studies. If you think you’ve experienced adverse effects due to aspartame, avoid it. Also, people with the rare disease PKU (phenylketonuria) need to avoid it. There is little evidence that this or other artificial sweeteners have helped people lose weight, though those additives might help some strong-willed dieters. Indeed, since 1980, consumption of artificial sweeteners and rates of obesity have both soared.

BETA-CAROTENE ... Coloring; nutrient: Margarine, shortening, non-dairy whiteners. Beta-carotene is used as an artificial coloring and a nutrient supplement. The body converts it to Vitamin A, which is part of the light-detection mechanism of the eye and which helps maintain the normal condition of mucous membranes. Large amounts of beta-carotene in the form of dietary supplements increased the risk of lung cancer in smokers and did not reduce the risk in non-smokers. Smokers should certainly not take beta-carotene supplements, but the small amounts used as food additives are safe.

BROMINATED VEGETABLE OIL (BVO) ... Emulsifier, clouding agent: Soft drinks. BVO keeps flavor oils in suspension and gives a cloudy appearance to citrus-flavored soft drinks. Eating BVO leaves small residues in body fat; it is unclear whether those residues pose any risk. Fortunately, BVO is not widely used.

BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA) ... Antioxidant: Cereals chewing gum, potato chips, vegetable oil. BHA retards rancidity in fats, oils, and oil-containing foods. While most studies indicate it is safe, some studies demonstrated that it caused cancer in rats. This synthetic chemical can be replaced by safer chemicals (e.g., vitamin E), safer processes (e.g., packing foods under nitrogen instead of air), or can simply be left out (many brands of oily foods, such as potato chips, don’t use any antioxidant).

BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE (BHT) ... Antioxidant: Cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, oils, etc. BHT retards rancidity in oils. It either increased or decreased the risk of cancer in various animal studies. Residues of BHT occur in human fat. BHT is unnecessary or is easily replaced by safe substitutes (see discussion of BHA). Avoid it when possible.

CAFFEINE ... Stimulant: Naturally occurring in coffee, tea, cocoa, coffee-flavored yogurt and frozen desserts. Additive in soft drinks, gum, and waters. Caffeine is the only drug that is present naturally or added to widely consumed foods (quinine is the other drug used in foods). It is mildly addictive, one possible reason that makers of soft drinks add it to their products. Many coffee drinkers experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, sleepiness, and lethargy, when they stop drinking coffee. Because caffeine increases the risk of miscarriages (and possibly birth defects) and inhibits fetal growth, it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. It also may make it harder to get pregnant (but don’t use it as a birth-control pill!). Caffeine also keeps many people from sleeping, causes jitteriness, and affects calcium metabolism. The caffeine in a cup or two of coffee is harmless to most people. But if you drink more than a couple of cups of coffee or cans of caffeine-containing soda per day, experience symptoms noted above, are at risk of osteoporosis, or are pregnant, you should rethink your habit.

CALCIUM (or SODIUM) PROPIONATE ... Preservative: Bread, rolls, pies, cakes. Calcium propionate prevents mold growth on bread and rolls. The calcium is a beneficial mineral; the propionate is safe. Sodium propionate is used in pies and cakes, because calcium alters the action of chemical leavening agents.

CALCIUM (or SODIUM) STEAROYL LACTYLATE ... Dough conditioner, whipping agent: Bread dough, cake fillings, artificial whipped cream, processed egg whites. These additives strengthen bread dough so it can be used in bread-making machinery and help produce a more uniform grain and greater volume. They act as whipping agents in dried, liquid, or frozen egg whites and artificial whipped cream.

SODIUM STEAROYL FUMARATE serves the same function.

CARMINE; COCHINEAL EXTRACT ... Artificial coloring. Cochineal extract is a coloring extracted from the eggs of the cochineal beetle, which lives on cactus plants in Peru, the Canary Islands, and elsewhere. Carmine is a more purified coloring made from cochineal. In both cases, the actual substance that provides the color is carminic acid. These colorings, which are extremely stable, are used in some red, pink, or purple candy, yogurt, Campari, ice cream, beverages, and many other foods, as well as drugs and cosmetics. These colorings have caused allergic reactions that range from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. It is not known how many people suffer from this allergy. The Food and Drug Administration should ban cochineal extract and carmine or, at the very least, require that they be identified clearly on food labels so that people could avoid them. Natural or synthetic substitutes are available. A label statement should also disclose that, Carmine is extracted from dried insects so that vegetarians and others who want to avoid animal products could do so.

CARRAGEENAN ... Thickening and stabilizing agent: Ice cream, jelly, chocolate milk, infant formula. Carrageenan is obtained from seaweed. Large amounts of carrageenan have harmed test animals’ colons; the small amounts in food are safe.

CASEIN, SODIUM CASEINATE ... Thickening and whitening agent: Ice cream, ice milk, sherbet, coffee creamers. Casein, the principal protein in milk, is a nutritious protein containing adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. People who are allergic to casein should read food labels carefully, because the additive is used in some “non-dairy” and “vegetarian” foods.

CITRIC ACID, SODIUM CITRATE ... Acid, flavoring, chelating agent: Ice cream, sherbet, fruit drink, candy, carbonated beverages, instant potatoes. Citric acid is versatile, widely used, cheap, and safe. It is an important metabolite in virtually all living organisms and is especially abundant naturally in citrus fruits and berries. It is used as a strong acid, a tart flavoring, and an antioxidant. Sodium citrate, also safe, is a buffer that controls the acidity of gelatin desserts, jam, ice cream, candy, and other foods.


CORN SYRUP... Sweetener, thickener: Candy, toppings, syrups, snack foods, imitation dairy foods.
Corn syrup,which consists mostly of dextrose, is a sweet, thick liquid made by treating cornstarch with acids or enzymes. It may be dried and used as corn syrup solids in coffee whiteners and other dry products. Corn syrup contains no nutritional value other than calories, promotes tooth decay, and is used mainly in foods with little intrinsic nutritional value.

CYCLAMATE ... Artificial sweetener: Diet foods. This controversial high-potency sweetener was used in the United States in diet foods until 1970, at which time it was banned. Animal studies indicated that it causes cancer. Now, based on animal studies, it (or a byproduct) is believed not to cause cancer directly, but to increase the potency of other carcinogens and to harm the testes.
DEXTROSE (GLUCOSE, CORN SUGAR) ... Sweetener, coloring agent: Bread, caramel, soda pop, cookies, many other foods Dextrose is an important chemical in every living organism. A sugar, it is a source of sweetness in fruits and honey. Added to foods as a sweetener, it represents empty calories and contributes to tooth decay. Dextrose turns brown when heated and contributes to the color of bread crust and toast. Americans consume about 25 pounds per year of dextrose -- and a total of about 150 pounds per year of all refined sugars.

EDTA ... Chelating agent: Salad dressing, margarine, sandwich spreads, mayonnaise, processed fruits and vegetables, canned shellfish, soft drinks. Modern food-manufacturing technology, which involves rollers, blenders, and containers made of metal, results in trace amounts of metal contamination in food. EDTA (ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid) traps metal impurities, which would otherwise promote rancidity and the breakdown of artificial colors. It is safe.
RYTHORBIC ACID ... Antioxidant, color stabilizer: Cured meats. see ASCORBIC ACID above.

FERROUS GLUCONATE ... Coloring, nutrient: Black olives. Used by the olive industry to generate a uniform jet-black color and in pills as a source of iron. Safe.


FUMARIC ACID ... Tartness agent: Powdered drinks, pudding, pie fillings, gelatin desserts. A solid at room temperature, inexpensive, highly acidic, fumaric acid is the ideal source of tartness and acidity in dry food products. However, it dissolves slowly in cold water, a drawback cured by adding DIOCTYL SODIUM SULFOSUCCINATE (DSS), a detergent-like additive that appears to be safe.
GELATIN ... Thickening and gelling agent: Powdered dessert mixes, yogurt, ice cream, cheese spreads, beverages. Gelatin is a protein obtained from animal hides and bones. It has little nutritional value, because it contains little or none of several essential amino acids.

GLYCERIN (GLYCEROL) ... Maintains water content: Marshmallows, candy, fudge, baked goods. In nature, glycerin forms the backbone of fat and oil molecules. The body uses it as a source of energy or as a starting material in making more-complex molecules.

GUMS: Arabic, Furcelleran, Ghatti, Guar, Karaya, Locust Bean, Tragacanth, Xanthan ... Thickening agents, stabilizers: Beverages, ice cream, frozen pudding, salad dressing, dough, cottage cheese, candy, drink mixes. Gums are derived from natural sources (bushes, trees, seaweed, bacteria) and are poorly tested, though probably safe. They are not absorbed by the body. They are used to thicken foods, prevent sugar crystals from forming in candy, stabilize beer foam (arabic), form a gel in pudding (furcelleran), encapsulate flavor oils in powdered drink mixes, or keep oil and water mixed together in salad dressings. Gums are often used to replace fat in low-fat ice cream, baked goods, and salad dressings. Tragacanth has caused occasional severe allergic reactions.

HEPTYL PARABEN ... Preservative: Beer, non-carbonated soft drinks. Heptyl paraben -- short for the heptyl ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid -- is a preservative. Studies suggest that this rarely used additive chemical is safe, but it, like other additives in alcoholic beverages, has never been tested in the presence of alcohol (such as in animals weakened by long-term consumption of alcohol).

HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP ... Sweetener: Soft drinks, other processed foods. Corn syrup can be treated with enzymes to convert some of its dextrose to fructose, which results in High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS has largely replaced ordinary sugar used in soft drinks and many other foods because it is cheaper. Americans consume about 59 pounds per year of HFCS (and a total of 150 pounds per year of all refined sugars).

HYDROGENATED STARCH HYDROLYSATE (HSH) ... Sweetener: Dietetic and reduced-calorie foods. HSH, like sorbitol, is slightly sweet and poorly absorbed by the body. Like sorbitol, and other sugar alcohols, eating significant amounts of HSH may cause intestinal gas and diarrhea.

HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL ... Fat, oil, shortening: Margarine, crackers, fried restaurant foods, baked goods. Vegetable oil, usually a liquid, can be made into a semi-solid shortening by reacting it with hydrogen. Hydrogenation reduces the levels of polyunsaturated oils — and also creates trans fats, which promote heart disease (they act like saturated fats). Ideally, food manufacturers would replace hydrogenated shortening with less-harmful ingredients.

HYDROLYZED VEGETABLE PROTEIN (HVP) ... Flavor enhancer: Instant soups, frankfurters, sauce mixes, beef stew. HVP consists of vegetable (usually soybean) protein that has been chemically broken down to the amino acids of which it is composed. HVP is used to bring out the natural flavor of food (and, perhaps, to enable companies to use less real food). It contains MSG and may cause adverse reactions in sensitive individuals.

INVERT SUGAR ... Sweetener: Candy, soft drinks, many other foods. Invert sugar, a 50-50 mixture of two sugars, dextrose and fructose, is sweeter and more soluble than sucrose (table sugar). Invert sugar forms when sucrose is split in two by an enzyme or acid. It provides "empty calories," contributes to tooth decay, and should be avoided.

LACTIC ACID ... Controls acidity: Spanish olives, cheese, frozen desserts, carbonated beverages. This safe acid occurs in almost all living organisms. It inhibits spoilage in Spanish-type olives, balances the acidity in cheese-making, and adds tartness to frozen desserts, carbonated fruit-flavored drinks, and other foods.

LACTOSE ... Sweetener: Whipped topping mix, breakfast pastry. Lactose, a carbohydrate found only in milk, is one of Nature’s ways of delivering calories to infant mammals. One-sixth as sweet as table sugar, lactose is added to food as a slightly sweet source of carbohydrate. Milk turns sour when bacteria convert lactose to lactic acid. Many people, especially non-Caucasians, have trouble digesting lactose. Bacteria in their guts may produce gas.

LECITHIN ... Emulsifier, antioxidant: Baked goods, margarine, chocolate, ice cream. A common constituent of animal and plant tissues, lecithin is a source of the nutrient choline. It keeps oil and water from separating out, retards rancidity, reduces spattering in a frying pan, and leads to fluffier cakes. Major natural sources are egg yolk and soybeans.

MALTITOL ... Sweetener: Dietetic and other reduced calorie foods. Like mannitol, sorbitol, and other sugar alcohols, maltitol may be expected to promote flatulence and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

MANNITOL ... Sweetener, other uses: Chewing gum, low-calorie foods. Not quite as sweet as sugar and poorly absorbed by the body, it contributes only half as many calories as sugar. Used as the "dust" on chewing gum, mannitol prevents gum from absorbing moisture and becoming sticky. Safe — except that large amounts that are used in gum may have a laxative effect and even cause diarrhea.

MONO- and DIGLYCERIDES ... Emulsifier: Baked goods, margarine, candy, peanut butter. Makes bread softer and prevents staling, improves the stability of margarine, makes caramels less sticky, and prevents the oil in peanut butter from separating out. Mono- and diglycerides are safe, though most foods they are used in are high in refined flour, sugar, or fat.

MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG) ... Flavor enhancer: Soup, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, restaurant foods. This amino acid brings out the flavor in many foods. While that may sound like a treat for taste buds, the use of MSG allows companies to reduce the amount of real ingredients in their foods, such as chicken in chicken soup. In the 1960s, it was discovered that large amounts of MSG fed to infant mice destroyed nerve cells in the brain. After that research was publicized, public pressure forced baby-food companies to stop adding MSG to their products (it was used to make the foods taste better to parents).

Careful studies have shown that some people are sensitive to MSG. Reactions include headache, nausea, weakness, and burning sensation in the back of neck and forearms. Some people complain of wheezing, changes in heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Some people claim to be sensitive to very small amounts of MSG, but no good studies have been done to determine just how little MSG can cause a reaction in the most-sensitive people. To protect the public’s health, manufacturers and restaurateurs should use less or no MSG and the amounts of MSG should be listed on labels of foods that contain significant amounts. People who believe they are sensitive to MSG should be aware that other ingredients, such as natural flavoring and hydrolyzed vegetable protein, also contain glutamate. Also, foods such as Parmesan cheese and tomatoes contain glutamate that occurs naturally, but no reactions have been reported to those foods.

OLESTRA (Olean) ... Fat substitute: Chips, crackers. Olestra is Procter & Gamble’s synthetic fat that is not absorbed by the body, but runs right through. Procter & Gamble suggests that replacing regular fat with olestra will help people lose weight and lower the risk of heart disease.

Olestra can cause diarrhea and loose stools, abdominal cramps, flatulence, and other adverse effects. Those symptoms are sometimes severe.

Even more importantly, olestra reduces the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble carotenoids (such as alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and canthaxanthin) from fruits and vegetables. Those nutrients are thought by many experts to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Olestra enables manufacturers to offer greasy-feeling low-fat snacks, but consumers would be much better off with baked snacks, which are perfectly safe and just as low in calories. Products made with olestra should not be called "fat free," because they contain substantial amounts of indigestible fat.

PHOSPHORIC ACID; PHOSPHATES ... Acidulant, chelating agent, buffer, emulsifier, nutrient, discoloration inhibitor: Baked goods, cheese, powdered foods, cured meat, soda pop, breakfast cereals, dehydrated potatoes. Phosphoric acid acidifies and flavors cola beverages. CALCIUM and IRON PHOSPHATES act as mineral supplements. SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE is a leavening agent. CALCIUM and AMMONIUM PHOSPHATES serve as food for yeast in baking. SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE prevents discoloration in potatoes and sugar syrups. While excessive consumption of phosphates could lead to dietary imbalances that might contribute to osteoporosis, only a small fraction of the phosphate in the American diet comes from additives. Most comes from meat and dairy products.

PLANT STEROL ESTERS ... Cholersterol-lowering Additive: Margarine, other foods . These substances, which are extracted from pine trees, reduce the absorption of cholersterol from food and lower blood cholersterol levels. They are not toxic, but they may reduce the body's absorption of nutrients called carotenoids that are thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Used in Benecol-brand products (margarine, salad dressing, and others).

POLYSORBATE 60 .... Emulsifier: Baked goods, frozen desserts, imitation dairy products. Polysorbate 60 is short for polyoxyethylene-(20)- sorbitan monostearate. It and its close relatives, POLYSORBATE 65 and 80, work the same way as mono- and diglycerides, but smaller amounts are needed. They keep baked goods from going stale, keep dill oil dissolved in bottled dill pickles, help coffee whiteners dissolve in coffee, and prevent oil from separating out of artificial whipped cream.

POTASSIUM BROMATE ... Flour improver: Bread and rolls.. This additive has long been used to increase the volume of bread and to produce bread with a fine crumb (the not-crust part of bread) structure. Most bromate rapidly breaks down to form innocuous bromide. However, bromate itself causes cancer in animals. The tiny amounts of bromate that may remain in bread pose a small risk to consumers. Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States. It is rarely used in California because a cancer warning might be required on the label. In 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban bromate.

PROPYL GALLATE ... Antioxidant preservative: Vegetable oil, meat products, potato sticks, chicken soup base, chewing gum. Propyl gallate retards the spoilage of fats and oils and is often used with BHA and BHT, because of the synergistic effects these preservatives have. The best studies on rats and mice were peppered with suggestions (but not proof) that this preservative might cause cancer. Avoid.

QUININE ... Flavoring: Tonic water, quinine water, bitter lemon. This drug can cure malaria and is used as a bitter flavoring in a few soft drinks. There is a slight chance that quinine causes birth defects, so, to be on the safe side, pregnant women should avoid quinine-containing beverages and drugs. Relatively poorly tested.

SACCHARIN ... Artificial sweetener: "Diet" products, soft drinks (especially fountain drinks at restaurants), packets. Saccharin (Sweet ’N Low) is 350 times sweeter than sugar and is used in dietetic foods or as a tabletop sugar substitute. Many studies on animals have shown that saccharin can cause cancer of the urinary bladder. In other rodent studies, saccharin has caused cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels, and other organs. Other studies have shown that saccharin increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals. And the best epidemiology study (done by the National Cancer Institute) found that the use of artificial sweeteners (saccharin and cyclamate) was associated with a higher incidence of bladder cancer.

In 1977, the FDA proposed that saccharin be banned, because of studies that it causes cancer in animals. However, Congress intervened and permitted it to be used, provided that foods bear a warning notice. It has been replaced in many products by aspartame (NutraSweet). In 1997, the diet-food industry began pressuring the U.S. and Canadian governments and the World Health Organization to take saccharin off their lists of cancer-causing chemicals. The industry acknowledges that saccharin causes bladder cancer in male rats, but argues that those tumors are caused by a mechanism that would not occur in humans. Many public health experts respond by stating that, even if that still-unproved mechanism were correct in male rats, saccharin could cause cancer by additional mechanisms and that, in some studies, saccharin has caused bladder cancer in mice and in female rats and other cancers in both rats and mice.

In May 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services removed saccharin from its list of cancer-causing chemicals. Later that year, Congress passed a law removing the warning notice that likely will result in increased use in soft drinks and other foods and in a slightly greater incidence of cancer.

SALATRIM ... Modified fat: baked goods, candy. This manufactured fat (developed by Nabisco) has the physical properties of regular fat, but the manufacturer claims it provides only about 5/9 as many calories. Its use can enable companies to make reduced-calorie claims on their products. Salatrim’s low calorie content results from its content of stearic acid, which the manufacturer says is absorbed poorly, and short-chain fatty acids, which provide fewer calories per unit weight.

Critics have charged that it does not provide as big a calorie reduction as claimed by Nabisco. Moreover, only very limited testing has been done to determine effects on humans. Eating small amounts of salatrim is probably safe, but large amounts (30g or more per day) increase the risk of such side effects as stomach cramps and nausea. No tests have been done to determine if the various food additives (salatrim, olestra, mannitol, and sorbitol) that cause gastrointestinal symptoms can act in concert to cause greater effects.

Nabisco declared salatrim safe and has marketed it, as the law allows, without formal FDA approval. (Nabisco has since sold salatrim to another company, Cultor.) In June 1998, the Center for Science in the Public Interest urged the FDA to ban salatrim until better tests were done and demonstrated safety.
SALT (Sodium Chloride) ... ... Flavoring: Most processed foods, soup, potato chips, crackers. Salt is used liberally in many processed foods and restaurant meals. Other additives contribute additional sodium. A diet high in sodium increases the risk or severity of high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Everyone should eat less salt: avoid salty processed foods and restaurant meals, use salt sparingly, and enjoy other seasonings.

SODIUM BENZOATE ... Preservative: Fruit juice, carbonated drinks, pickles, preserves. Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods.

SODIUM CARBOXYMETHYLCELLULOSE (CMC) ... Thickening and stabilizing agent; prevents sugar from crystallizing: Ice cream, beer, pie fillings, icings, diet foods, candy CMC is made by reacting cellulose with a derivative of acetic acid. Studies indicate it is safe.

SODIUM NITRITE, SODIUM NITRATE ... Preservative, coloring, flavoring: Bacon, ham, frankfurters, luncheon meats, smoked fish, corned beef. Meat processors love sodium nitrite because it stabilizes the red color in cured meat (without nitrite, hot dogs and bacon would look gray) and gives a characteristic flavor. Sodium nitrate is used in dry cured meat, because it slowly breaks down into nitrite. Adding nitrite to food can lead to the formation of small amounts of potent cancer-causing chemicals (nitrosamines), particularly in fried bacon. Nitrite, which also occurs in saliva and forms from nitrate in several vegetables, can undergo the same chemical reaction in the stomach. Companies now add ascorbic acid or erythorbic acid to bacon to inhibit nitrosamine formation, a measure that has greatly reduced the problem. While nitrite and nitrate cause only a small risk, they are still worth avoiding.

Several studies have linked consumption of cured meat and nitrite by children, pregnant women, and adults with various types of cancer. Although those studies have not yet proven that eating nitrite in bacon, sausage, and ham causes cancer in humans, pregnant women would be prudent to avoid those products.

The meat industry justifies its use of nitrite and nitrate by claiming that it prevents the growth of bacteria that cause botulism poisoning. That’s true, but freezing and refrigeration could also do that, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a safe method using lactic-acid-producing bacteria. The use of nitrite and nitrate has decreased greatly over the decades, because of refrigeration and restrictions on the amounts used. The meat industry could do the public’s health a favor by cutting back even further. Because nitrite is used primarily in fatty, salty foods, consumers have important nutritional reasons for avoiding nitrite-preserved foods.

SORBIC ACID, POTASSIUM SORBATE ... Prevents growth of mold: Cheese, syrup, jelly, cake, wine, dry fruits. Sorbic acid occurs naturally in many plants. These additives are safe.

SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE ... Emulsifier: Cakes, candy, frozen pudding, icing. Like mono- and diglycerides and polysorbates, this additive keeps oil and water mixed together. In chocolate candy, it prevents the discoloration that normally occurs when the candy is warmed up and then cooled down.

SORBITOL ... Sweetener, thickening agent, maintains moisture. Dietetic drinks and foods, candy, shredded coconut, chewing gum. Sorbitol occurs naturally in fruits and berries and is a close relative of sugars. It is half as sweet as sugar. It is used many dietetic foods. It is used in non-cariogenic (non-decay-causing) chewing gum because oral bacteria do not metabolize it well. Some diabetics use sorbitol-sweetened foods because it is absorbed slowly and does not cause blood sugar to increase rapidly. Moderate amounts of sorbitol may have a strong laxative effect and even cause diarrhea, but otherwise it is safe.

STARCH ... Thickening agent: Soup, gravy. Starch, the major component of flour, potatoes, and corn, is used in many foods as a thickening agent. However, starch does not dissolve in cold water. Chemists have solved this problem by reacting starch with various chemicals to create MODIFIED STARCHES (see next entry).

STARCH, MODIFIED ... Thickening agent: Soup, gravy, baby food. Modified starches are used in processed foods to improve their consistency and keep the solids suspended. Starch and modified starches sometimes replace large percentages of more nutritious ingredients, such as fruit. Choose baby foods without added starches (starch-thickened baby foods have contained as little as 25 percent as much of the fruit ingredients as 100-percent-fruit baby foods). One small study suggested that modified starches can promote diarrhea in infants.

SUCRALOSE ... Artificial sweetener: Diet foods. Approved in the United States in April 1998, sucralose (a synthetic chemical) can be used in soft drinks, baked goods, ice cream, sweetener packets, and other products. It previously had been used in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere. Sucralose is safer than saccharin and cyclamate and doesn’t raise the concerns that tests on acesulfame-K and aspartame have raised.

SUGAR (SUCROSE) ... ... Sweetener: Table sugar, sweetened foods. Sucrose, ordinary table sugar, occurs naturally in fruit, sugar cane, and sugar beets. Americans consume about 65 pounds of sucrose per year. That figure is down from 102 pounds per year around 1970, but the decrease has been more than made up for with HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP and DEXTROSE. About 156 pounds of all refined sugars are produced per person per year, an increase of 28 percent since 1983. Interestingly that’s just when the use of ASPARTAME started skyrocketing. In other words, it appears that artificial sweeteners have not replaced sugar, but may have stimulated America’s sweet tooth.

Sugar and sweetened foods may taste good and supply energy, but most people eat too much of them. Sugar, corn syrup, and other refined sweeteners make up 16 percent of the average diet, but provide no vitamins, minerals, or protein. That means that a person would have to get 100 percent of his or her nutrients from only 84 percent of his or her food. Sugar and other refined sugars can promote obesity, tooth decay, and, in people with high triglycerides, heart disease.

SULFITES (SULFUR DIOXIDE, SODIUM BISULFITE) ... Preservative, bleach: Dried fruit, wine, processed potatoes. Sulfiting agents prevent discoloration (dried fruit, some "fresh" shrimp, and some dried, fried, or frozen potatoes) and bacterial growth (wine). They also destroy vitamin B-1 and, most important, can cause severe reactions, especially in asthmatics. If you think you may be sensitive, avoid all forms of this additive, because it has caused at least twelve known deaths and probably many more.

THIAMIN MONONITRATE ... Vitamin B-1. Perfectly safe, despite adding minuscule amounts of nitrate to our food.

VANILLIN, ETHYL VANILLIN ... Substitute for vanilla: Ice cream, baked goods, beverages, chocolate, candy, gelatin desserts. Vanilla flavoring is derived from a bean, but vanillin, the major flavor component of vanilla, is cheaper to produce in a factory. A derivative, ethyl vanillin, comes closer to matching the taste of real vanilla. Both chemicals are safe.

VEGETABLE OIL STEROLS ... Cholesterol-lowering Additive: Margarine, other foods. These substances, which are extracted from soybeans, reduce the absorption of cholersterol from food and lower blood cholersterol levels. They are not toxic, but they may reduce the body's absorption of nutrients called carotenoids that are thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Used in Take Control-brand margarine.


These appear to be safe, though a few people may be allergic to any additive.

* GLYCERIN (Glycerol)
* GUMS: Arabic, Furcelleran, Ghatti, Guar, Karaya, Locust Bean, Xanthan
* POLYSORBATE 60, 65, 80

Not toxic, but large amounts may be unsafe or promote bad nutrition. See main text for details.


These additives may pose a risk and need to be better tested. Try to avoid..

o RED 40
* ASPARTAME (Nutrasweet)


May cause allergic reactions or other problems. See main text for details.

* ASPARTAME (Nutrasweet)

The additive is unsafe in the amounts consumed or is very poorly tested.

o BLUE 1
o BLUE 2
o RED 3
* OLESTRA (Olean)

Food Additive Cemetery -- Additives That Have Been Banned

The food and chemical industries have said for decades that all food additives are well tested and safe. And most additives are safe. However, the history of food additives is riddled with additives that, after many years of use, were found to pose health risks. Those listed below have been banned. The moral of the story is that when someone says that all food additives are well tested and safe you should take their assurances with a grain of salt.

The food and chemical industries have said for decades that all food additives are well tested and safe. And most additives are safe. However, the history of food additives is riddled with additives that, after many years of use, were found to pose health risks. Those listed below have been banned. The moral of the story is that when someone says that all food additives are well tested and safe you should take their assurances with a grain of salt.
Additive Function Natural or Synthetic Year Banned Problem
Agene (nitrogen trichloride) flour bleaching and aging agent synthetic 1949 dogs that ate bread made from treated flour suffered epileptic-like fits; the toxic agent was methionine sulfoxime
Artificial colorings:

* Butter yellow

artificial coloring synthetic 1919 toxic, later found to cause liver cancer

* Green 1

artificial coloring synthetic 1965 liver cancer

* Green 2

artificial coloring synthetic 1965 insufficient economic importance to be tested

* Orange 1

artificial coloring synthetic 1956 organ damage

* Orange 2

artificial coloring synthetic 1960 organ damage

* Orange B

artificial coloring synthetic 1978 (ban never finalized) cancer

* Red 1

artificial coloring synthetic 1961 liver cancer

* Red 2

artificial coloring synthetic 1976 possible carcinogen

* Red 4

artificial coloring synthetic 1976 high levels damaged adrenal cortex of dog; after 1965 it was used only in maraschino cherries and certain pills; it is still allowed in externally applied drugs and cosmetics

* Red 32

artificial coloring synthetic 1956 damages internal organs and may be a weak carcinogen; since 1956 it continues to be used under the name Citrus Red 2 only to color oranges (2 ppm)

* Sudan 1

artificial coloring synthetic 1919 toxic, later found to be carcinogenic

* Violet 1

artificial coloring synthetic 1973 cancer (it had been used to stamp the Department of Agriculture’s inspection mark on beef carcasses)

* Yellow 1 and 2

artificial coloring synthetic 1959 intestinal lesions at high dosages

* Yellow 3

artificial coloring synthetic 1959 heart damage at high dosages

* Yellow 4

artificial coloring synthetic 1959 heart damage at high dosages

Thanks to Doug Pierce at Threshold Media for his assistance. Threshold Media, 13268 Country Ridge Dr., Germantown, MD 20874