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The 9 Scariest Food Additives You're Eating Right Now

Some of the so-called healthy snack foods and packaged goods you're tossing into your grocery cart each week may be filled with "extras" that can, in the long term, put your health at risk. Check out our rundown of the top nutrition label offenders—then

4. BHA (BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE) and BHT (BUTYLATED HYDROXYTOLUENE) Antioxidants are normally good, right? Not in this case. BHA and BHT are antioxidant preservatives used in cereals, potato chips and chewing gum to keep them from going rancid. The Department of Health and Human Services pegged them as known carcinogens, but, mysteriously, the FDA allows them. The additives negatively impact sleep and appetite, and have been associated with liver and kidney damage, hair loss, behavioral problems, cancer, fetal abnormalities and growth retardation.

5. SODIUM NITRATE AND SODIUM NITRITE These additives are used as colorants and to preserve the shelf life of meats like hot dogs, bacon and sausage. That all sounds OK until you note that they mix with stomach acids to form nitrosamines, potent cancer-causing cells associated with oral, stomach, brain, esophageal and bladder cancers. Noticeable side effects include dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Want quick deli meats without the drawbacks? Stick to choices like Natural Choice Hormel, which is additive-free.

Can you guess this product by its ingredient list?*

6. PROPYL GALLATE This next antioxidant preservative is used by food manufacturers to prevent fats and oils from spoiling, and is often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. It’s claim to infamy: it might cause cancer, though the evidence to support this isn't conclusive. Watch out for it in vegetable oil, potato sticks, chicken soup base, meat products, chewing gum and cosmetic products.

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