Published: July 28, 2023
Worst food ingredients

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Are you trying to eat healthy, but feel like you can’t shake the food cravings or maybe you’ve been struggling to lose weight for years and don’t know where to start?

If you’re struggling with food allergies or intolerances, this list is for you. With so many foods containing hidden chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, and allergens.  

It is important to be aware of what you’re putting into your body. There are a few ingredients to avoid in food labels.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about the top 15 worst food ingredients that you must avoid if you want to stay healthy.

By reading this article, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about what foods to eat and which to avoid, ensuring that you live a healthy life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Avoid Trans Fats, GMOs, Artificial Colors, Flavors Preservatives And Seed Oils
  • Minimize Processed Food Consumption
  • Choose Organic Whole Foods For Nutritious Options


The 15 worst food ingredients you must avoid

1. GMOs

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are controversial topics that have been in the news for a long time now. Most people are still largely unaware of the risks of GMOs, but that’s definitely not good news for our environment or our health.

GMO crops are typically grown with the use of pesticides and herbicides, which can be harmful to both people and the environment. Not to mention, GMOs have been linked to many health problems, such as cancer, infertility, and more. 

So, if you’re concerned about the health and environmental consequences of GMOs, make sure to avoid one of the worst food ingredients by choosing organic foods whenever possible.


Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, one of the ingredients to avoid in food labels, produced by Monsanto (now Bayer), is commonly used to kill weeds in crops, such as soybeans, corn, and cotton.

Roundup is a very popular herbicide, but it has been linked to toxicity, cancer, and other health concerns. People who use Roundup regularly are at risk for developing toxicity symptoms such as skin rashes, digestive problems, and liver damage.

In addition, glyphosate has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. 

Here is what this study revealed:

“The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb in water), were studied 2 years in rats.

In females, all treated groups died 2-3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs.

All results were hormone and sex-dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable.

Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls, the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5-5.5 times higher.”

2. MSG 

MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is a flavor enhancer used largely in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. It is a sodium salt that is on the food chemicals list and structurally similar to glutamate, the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the human brain.

While it has been generally regarded as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is some evidence that it may be linked to health problems, such as asthma and certain types of cancer.

Food colorings and dyes

3. Food colorings and dyes

A lot of people are unaware that food coloring is not natural. In fact, most of the food coloring in the average grocery store is artificial. This is mainly because artificial food dyes are more consistent in color and have a longer shelf life than natural alternatives.

However, there are some serious health concerns associated with artificial food coloring.

Artificial food additives examples include dyes, and colorings that are linked to cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization classifies food dyes as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means that there is evidence linking them to cancer in humans.

Additionally, artificial food dyes can cause reproductive health problems in both men and women.

This clinical study found:

“All of the nine currently US-approved dyes raise health concerns of varying degrees. Red 3 causes cancer in animals, and there is evidence that several other dyes also are carcinogenic.

Three dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) have been found to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens. At least four dyes (Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) cause hypersensitivity reactions. Numerous microbiological and rodent studies of Yellow 5 were positive for genotoxicity.”

High fructose corn syrup

4. High fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), one of the worst food additives, is a type of sweetener that is commonly used in processed foods and beverages. It is made by processing corn using a high-temperature process, which turns the starch into sugar.

It has a high glycemic index, meaning that it causes rapid increases in blood sugar levels in people who eat it.

This can be problematic because it can lead to weight gain and other health issues. HFCS is also linked to chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

In light of these facts, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with this sweetener and to choose foods that do not contain this ingredient.

Research showed the following:

“ Rats maintained on a diet rich in HFCS for 6 or 7 months show abnormal weight gain, increased circulating TG (triglycerides), and augmented fat deposition. All of these factors indicate obesity. Thus, over consumption of HFCS could very well be a major factor in the “obesity epidemic,” which correlates with the upsurge in the use of HFCS.”

Artificial sweeteners

5. Artificial sweeteners 

Artificial sweeteners are also part of the food chemicals list that are used to make sugar substitutes taste more like sugar. Aspartame is the most well-known artificial sweetener and is also among the most controversial.

It is often considered to be a health hazard, as it has been linked to numerous adverse effects, including seizures, brain tumors, and infertility in humans.

In 2006, a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that aspartame caused reproductive problems in rats and mice.

This opens the question of whether humans are also susceptible to these effects. It is another one of the ingredients to avoid in food labels.

Instead of artificial sweeteners, one of the worst food additives, opt for natural alternatives.

6. Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is another one of the worst food ingredients, an artificial preservative that is used in various food and beverage products to prolong their shelf life.

The Sodium Benzoate In Saliva study found that it can increase the risk of cancer in humans.

Many of us are familiar with the use of sodium benzoate in many food products as a preservative. It is a natural derivative of benzene and helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and molds.

It is also used as a flavoring agent in many food products and is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Nitrates and nitrites

7. Nitrates/ Nitrites

What is the difference between nitrate and nitrite?

Nitrate and nitrite are two common types of artificial food additives examples that are combined with sodium.

Nitrate is a salt that is formed when nitrogen gas reacts with water. Nitrite is a salt that is formed when nitric oxide (NO) gas reacts with water.

One worst food ingredients to avoid if you want to stay healthy is sodium nitrate. This additive is used in processed foods to give them a salty taste and to preserve them. But in recent years, it has come under scrutiny for its potential health risks.

According to a study published in the journal Lancet, sodium nitrate can increase the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events by as much as 43%.

So if you’re looking for ways to eat healthier and avoid the worst food additives, make sure to steer clear of sodium nitrate!

8. Carrageenan

Carrageenan is another one of worst food ingredients that has been linked to several health concerns. Some of the most common side effects of consuming carrageenan include gastrointestinal issues, skin irritation, and even allergic reactions.

If you’re looking for ingredients to avoid in food labels that may cause you harm, carrageenan should be at the top of your list. Make sure to read food labels carefully to see if carrageenan is being used in any of the ingredients. If it is, steer clear!

A recent study concluded:

“Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors.”

Artificial flavors

9. Artificial flavors

Artificial flavors are on the food chemicals list that are used to make food taste good. They’re found in everything from ice cream to tomato sauce, and they’re often disguised as natural flavors.

Unfortunately, artificial flavors are dangerous because they can be harmful to your health. They can cause allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems, as well as a host of other health problems.

If you’re allergic to any type of these worst food ingredients, avoid using artificial flavors in your meals.

Here is a video showing how artificial flavors are synthetically created in a lab.

10. Yeast extract 

If you’re looking to avoid potential health problems, it’s important to keep a lookout for the worst food ingredients that contain yeast extract.

This is another one of the worst food additives, often found in bread, cakes, pasta, and other food products, and it can cause some problems for your health.

Yeast extract can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and arthritis, among other health conditions. If you’re not sure whether a particular food product contains yeast extract, always read the label carefully.

11. Trans fats

Trans fats are the worst kind of fats, and ingredients to avoid in food labels. Trans fats are man-made fats that are found in processed foods and products.

They extend the shelf life of products. They are harmful because they increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic illnesses.

You can reduce your chances of getting these diseases by avoiding foods that contain trans fats, including margarine, shortening, fatty spreads, cakes, cookies, crackers, pie crusts, and many other items.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Trans fat increases your “bad” cholesterol and lowers your “good” cholesterol.”

Enriched wheat

12. Enriched wheat

Enriched wheat is one of the most popular of the worst food ingredients on the market today. There is nothing “rich” about it.

It is a by-product of milling white flour, and it is typically used to increase the protein and fiber content in flour products.

However, some people believe that enriched wheat is harmful to your health, as it contains higher levels of toxins and anti-nutrients than regular wheat.

It has been found to increase your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, among others.

If you are gluten intolerant or have any other food allergy, you should avoid enriched wheat products as they may contain undeclared gluten or other allergens.

13. BPA (Bisphenol A)

BPA is a man-made chemical that has been widely used in various consumer products, including food packaging. It is a hard-to-break down plastic component that has been linked to various health issues, including obesity, hormonal changes, and infertility.

BPA is especially harmful to the reproductive system and the development of fetuses. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you avoid food packaging that contains this harmful ingredient.

Some of the worst food ingredients that you should avoid include:

-Plastics used for food packaging

-Soda cans

-Bottled water

-Food containers made from plastic

Here is what a study demonstrated:

“BPA has been shown to interact with estrogen receptors and to act as agonist or antagonist via estrogen receptor (ER) dependent signaling pathways.

Therefore, BPA has been shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of several endocrine disorders including female and male infertility, precocious puberty, hormone-dependent tumors such as breast and prostate cancer, and several metabolic disorders including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).”

Vegetable oils

14. Corn, vegetable, soybean, and peanut oils

You might be surprised to learn that some of the most popular worst food ingredients contain oils that can be harmful to your health. Corn oil, vegetable oil, soybean, and peanut oils are all high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are harmful fats that increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.

These oils are commonly used in processed foods and can be very unhealthy if eaten regularly. If you’re looking to eat healthy, avoid foods containing these oils altogether!

A clinical study proved:

“Numerous lines of evidence show that the omega-6 polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid promotes oxidative stress, oxidized LDL, chronic low-grade inflammation, and atherosclerosis, and is likely a major dietary culprit for causing CHD, especially when consumed in the form of industrial seed oils commonly referred to as vegetable oils.”

15. BHA and BHT

BHA and BHT are two common worst food ingredients that are often used as preservatives in many foods. Though they are generally considered safe, some people are concerned about the potential health risks associated with their use. 

According to research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these ingredients can potentially cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive problems.

If you care about your health and want to avoid any potential risks, it is best to avoid foods that contain BHA and BHT altogether.

Related articles:



The food industry is one of the most widely used avenues to spread harmful toxins into our bodies, and this is not limited to just the food ingredients we put into our mouths.

From pesticides and herbicides used in farming, to the processing methods that lead to food becoming unstable and unhealthy, there are plenty of food ingredients that you NEED to avoid if you want to improve your health and live a longer life.

In this article, we’ve outlined the 15 worst food ingredients you MUST avoid, and start eating clean. 

Are there other worst food ingredients you think are worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments below!


1. Séralini GE;Clair E;Mesnage R;Gress S;Defarge N;Malatesta M;Hennequin D;de Vendômois JS; “Long Term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize.” Food and Chemical Toxicology : an International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine,

2. MF;, Kobylewski S;Jacobson. “Toxicology of Food Dyes.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine,

3. Bocarsly, Miriam E, et al. “High-Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Characteristics of Obesity in Rats: Increased Body Weight, Body Fat and Triglyceride Levels.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2010,

4. “Carrageenan: Risks and Reality.” Cornucopia Institute, 31 Aug. 2021,

5. “Trans Fat: Double Trouble for Your Heart.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 Feb. 2022,

6. D;, Konieczna A;Rutkowska A;Rachoń. “Health Risk of Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA).” Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 

7. DiNicolantonio, James J, and James H O’Keefe. “Omega-6 Vegetable Oils as a Driver of Coronary Heart Disease: The Oxidized Linoleic Acid Hypothesis.” Open Heart, BMJ Publishing Group, 26 Sept. 2018,

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