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10 Worst Ingredients To Have In Your Food

By eHealthIQ
Reviewed: June 07, 2013

When you go to eat or drink, you don’t typically think about the ingredients that are lurking in your food. Long labels with lengthy ingredient lists are often filled with scary ingredients that are toxic, unrecognizable or just plain gross. You would never suspect that your raspberry-flavored yogurt was made with castoreum from a beaver. Here are 10 of the worst ingredients to have in your food and healthier alternatives.


TBHQ is an ingredient derived from petroleum. It’s also related to butane. This scary ingredient is in dozens of frozen and processed foods. It’s most common in chicken nuggets. Instead of buying frozen nuggets, make your own healthy nuggets at home. You will know exactly what is in them.

Propylene Glycol

This ingredient is the same as antifreeze. It is common in tons of snacks, but ice cream is the worst offender. This ingredient is as toxic as they can get. You wouldn’t eat antifreeze. Don’t eat foods that contain propylene glycol either. Be sure to check the labels on your ice cream for this ingredient. You can also make your own ice cream that is a lot healthier and tastier too.


This ingredient is in hundreds of food items. The most common source of aspartame is in diet sodas. It is linked to lymphomas and leukemia in adults. Aspartame is scary stuff. It is even known to mimic the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Avoid everything that uses aspartame. If you must have a soda, go for natural sodas that are sweetened with stevia.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

This sneaky ingredient is the same thing as trans fat. Even though trans fats are mostly banned in the USA, companies find a way to sneak them into our foods. Anytime you see the words partially hydrogenated, you know it is trans fat in disguise. Avoid foods with this ingredient. Opt for whole foods and snacks that are naturally low in fat.


L-Cysteine is actually duck feathers or human hair. It’s a common ingredient that is in bread products. It’s the ingredient that makes buns and bagels nice and fluffy. It’s easy enough to find a replacement. All you need to do is check labels.

Artificial Dyes

Dyes are in everything we consume. A majority of artificial dyes are derived from petroleum byproducts. It’s hard to avoid them in some instances, but reducing the amount of artificial dyes you consume is the way to go. Buy foods with no dyes or natural dyes sourced from fruits and vegetables.

Brominated Vegetable Oil

This scary ingredient is used in beverages like Gatorade and Powerade. It’s also a flame retardant. There are no healthy replacements. Skip the sports drinks and anything containing this ingredient.

Silicon Dioxide

This ingredient is actually sand. While it sounds harmless, it is in tons of fast food to prevent the food from clumping. It’s safe in small quantities, but you may want to cut back on fast food.

Carmine Or Red #4

This ingredient is in tons of food and drinks that are dyed red. It’s created from crushed beetles. Look for foods that are naturally dyed or contain no dyes at all.

Ammonium Sulfate

No one wants fertilizer in their food, but that’s exactly what ammonium sulfate is. It’s often seen in breads and flour products. It’s most commonly found in fast food.










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