A Guide to Food Preservatives

A Guide to Food Preservatives
Wanna see something not on the list?  Let me know!

Acetic Acid  Basically, it is vinegar used mainly in commercial products.

Aspartame  Artificial sweetener sold as a diet sweetener found in diet soda, gum, sugar-free candy and other "sugar-free" foods.  It is 200 times sweeter than refined sugar and, when consumed, it breaks down into methanol in the body which can lead to adverse health effects with over-consumption.  Studies are inconclusive on the side effects of this additive.

Calcium Phosphate  Can be found in many processed foods but especially baked goods.  Used to thicken foods and prevent caking while retaining moisture.  Can be beneficial for people with a phosphate deficiency.

Caramel  Additive used to color foods. It is produced by heating various forms of sweeteners and is noted on labels as "artificial colors".  Has been known to cause cancer in animal testing.

Dextrose  A form of glucose that is used to sweeten some processed foods.  It is usually made from GMO corn and is another form of "hidden" sugars that can also be labelled as corn sugar, wheat sugar, and rice sugar to name a few.

Disodium Guanylate  Used to add a meat flavor to foods, is almost always found with MSG and sometimes labeled as "natural flavors".  It is produced by fermenting a vegetable source such as tapioca starch.  

Maltodextrin  A highly processed ingredient used as a food additive to thicken processed foods and a filler in sweetened foods.  It is absorbed by the body as glucose and is usually derived from corn but can come from wheat. 

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)  A salty flavor enhancer that is found naturally in some foods such as tomatoes and cheese.  It is added to foods to intensify the flavor and turns off the "full feeling".  Known as an Asian food additive but is actually found in most processed foods.  Over-consumption leads to headaches, nausea, and heart palpitations.


Silicon Dioxide Also known as silica is used to keep powders dry and help them flow. It is found naturally as quartz and in some plants like leafy greens and oats.  It is the sand between your toes!  As a food additive, it has found to be safe and flushed from our bodies by our powerful kidneys.

Sodium Benzoate Used as a preservative in processed foods.  It is naturally occurring in many fruits, vegetables, seafood, and dairy.  When mixed with Vitamin C can result in benzene which is a cancer causing substance.


Sodium Nitrate A form of saltpeter mined in Chile and Peru typically used to preserve and maintain color in foods.  It fights harmful bacteria in processed and cured meats but has been linked to various gastric cancers.

Yellow 5 or Tartrazine  Added to many foods to brighten the yellow color.  It is known to cause allergic reactions, asthma problems, and hyperactivity in kids.  It is banned it several countries but widely used in the US. There are several healthier alternatives such as annatto, beta-carotene, and turmeric. 

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