12 Worst Toxins in Processed Foods

Since we can't avoid the consumption of certain food, it never hurts to know the effect that they can have on your body to counterbalance it with other foods.
12 Worst Toxins in Processed Foods

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Be careful with what you eat. You could be consuming substances that are very dangerous for your health with every mouthful. Currently, the food that is found in supermarket chains and restaurants is a long way off from being natural. Businesses in charge of “feeding us” use a large amount of conservatives, chemicals, and other additives that, in the long term, are bad for your body. In the following article, find out what the worst toxins in processed foods are.

A list of toxins that are in processed foods

Pay a lot of attention the next time you go shopping. Look at the packets and labels. You will realize that most of the foods you tend to buy and eat have at least one of the following toxic ingredients.

High fructose corn syrup

We find this in sweet things, like “coke” drinks and various desserts. We also find it a lot in fast food. The potential effects of corn syrup are obesity, resistance to insulin, increase of abdominal fat, and heart diseases.

Trans fats

This also goes by the name of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. We can find it in processed foods like cookies, bread crumbs, frozen foods, etc. The potential effects of trans fat are cardiac diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

A collection of fast food

Artificial flavoring

These are present in all sweets, carbonated beverages, cookies, and prepared foods. The flavorings are truly harmful for your health. There are more than 100 additives and different chemicals within this group that have the goal of “giving more real flavor” to food. The potential effects of artificial flavoring are allergies and behavioral reactions, like hyperactivity.

Monosodium glutamate

Also known as MSG, we can find it many salty foods, like french fries or breads, because it is what is used instead of common salt (sodium chloride). The potential effects of monosodium glutamate are:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Overstimulation of taste (which causes a sensation of wanting to eat more)
  • Not tasting other flavors or also adding more and more salt to food

Artificial colurings

Along with flavoring, there are colorings which we can find in almost all processed foodsAlthough they tend to say “some artificial colorings” on sweets labels, candies, cookies, or desserts, don’t be okay with this specification. The potential effects of artificial colorings are allergies, nasal congestion, hyperactivity (especially in children) and serious illnesses in infants like attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity (ADHD).

Artificial sweeteners

The different kinds of sweeteners are:

  • Aspartame (which affects the nervous system and can cause headaches, memory loss, and convulsions).
  • Sucralose (which reduces good bacteria in the intestine)
  • Acesulfame potassium (which can cause cancer, according to some studies)
  • Neotame (which has still not been proven if it is safe to eat)
  • Saccharine (which can cause cancer)
A spoonful of sweetener

They say that the added sweetness “burns” the taste buds, or in other words, inhibits them, therefore we don’t realize if something already has too much sugar. For that reason, be careful every time you add more sweetener or sugar to infusions or desserts.

Read more: The 6 Worst Ingredients You Can Add To Your Coffee


Preservatives are also present in all the processed foods that we buy. There are different types of preservatives with serious consequences. Some of them are TBHQ or antioxidant E-319 (can cause nausea, tinnitus, and vomiting), and polysorbates 60, 65, and 80 (can cause infertility, anaphylaxis, and are immunosuppressants, in other words, they weaken the immune system).

Others are BHT or E-321 and BHA or E-320 (they have kidney and liver problems as a consequence, besides being a possible carcinogen), sodium benzoate or E-211 (causes allergic reactions and is a carcinogen) or sulphates (cause allergic reactions, especially asthma).

Canola oil

Many people believe that canola oil is good for your health, which is why it has become very popular lately. The truth is, however, that it has some very harmful effects. This oil, which we can find in 30% of the products we eat, gets “stored” in cells. This prevents them from functioning properly, can cause lung emphysema and difficulty breathing, and this can even lead to cancer.

Bowl of canola oil

Sodium nitrate

We use this as a preservative for foods and to keep colors in meat derivatives (ones which have a very low percentage of real meat). We combine cured meat with other salts like sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate. It prevents bacterial poisoning. However, it could cause cancer.

Anti-foaming Agents

This industrial chemical product is common in chicken nuggets, for example. There is, however, a connection with stomach tumors and it can cause certain damages to the DNA.

Anti-caking agents

People use these to absorb moisture in foods and add them to powdered or dehydrated products. They contain phosphate, carbonate, silicate, and aluminum. The latter has a link to Alzheimer’s. It is worth noting that aluminum silicate (found in anti-caking agents) is used in the flu vaccine.

Read more: The Onset of Alzheimer’s; Can it Be Stopped?


Close up of ice cream

There are three main ones: brominated vegetable oil, polysorbate 80, and carrageenan. We can find it in chocolate milk, ice cream, cottage cheese, jelly, and in dairy products. They can stay in your body for years.

We hope this list of dangerous toxins in processed foods has been an eye-opener for you, and that it will help you to decide more wisely the food you buy in the future.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Wilczek MM., Olszewski R., Krupienicz A., Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: urgent need for legislation. Cardiology, 2017. 138 (4): 254-258.
  • Liauchonak I., Qorri B., Dawoud F., Riat Y., et al., Non nutritive sweeteners and their implications on the developmetn of metabolic syndrome. Nutrients, 2019.
  • Pepino MY., Metabolic effects of non nutritive sweeteners. Physiol Behav, 2015. 152: 450-5.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.