USA TODAY recently reported five American foods that are banned in other countries. Artificial food dyes, Olestra, Potassium Bromate, farmed salmon, and Azodicarbonamide are easy to come by in the United States for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, these five foods, though delicious, are actually quite dangerous for our health.
Artificial food dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 5 and 6 contain a known carcinogen called Benzene. Found in processed foods such as candy, cereal, and baked goods, they have been linked to cancer and hyperactivity in children. Yellow 6 and Yellow 5 are also known to behave like estrogen in the human body. High levels of estrogen can potentially lead to breast cancer and a reduction in a male’s sex drive. The best method of completely dodging this harmful food product is to stick to an unprocessed, whole-food diet.
Olestra, a zero-calorie fat substitute found in potato chips, has been linked to gastrointestinal problems including gas and cramping. Another side effect to Olestra is weight gain. A 2011 study published by Purdue University reported that rats after a 28-day period who were fed potato chips containing Olean, Olestra’s common name, as part of a high-fat diet ate and gained more weight than those who were fed a high-fat diet and regular, full-fat potato chips. To avoid this harmful ingredient, eat almonds, fruits, or vegetables for snack breaks.
Live Science reports Potassium Bromate, which is used in bread, wraps, and bagels, is an oxidizing agent used to chemically age flour faster than open air. In 1982 a series of studies proving that Potassium Bromate causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys, and other body parts of rats and mice was published by researchers in Japan. The series prompted other countries to remove products containing the chemical from shelves and illegalized the chemical.
The United States hasn’t banned the chemical in food products because once cooked the chemical becomes Potassium Bromide, a harmless byproduct. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted that the amount of Potassium Bromate remaining in bread after baking is less than 20 parts per billion (ppb), making it negligible. The chemical has been legal in the United States since it was first patented for baking in 1914. Reading ingredient’s labels is the easiest way to avoid this additive.
Salmon, a low-calorie protein source rich in hearty Omega-3s, is recommended by the American Heart Association to be consumed at least every week in two 3.5-ounce servings. As healthy as this fish is, most are farm-raised under controlled conditions. Farmed raised salmon has been found to contain toxic chemicals Methylmercury and Dioxins. Farmed salmon has been correlated with kidney and nervous system damage as well as cancer.
Azodicarbonamide, another oxidizing agent for bread, has been known to induce respiratory problems like asthma and allergies. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Azodicarbonamide not only causes asthma, but it causes other respiratory complications within three months of exposure. This additive also irritates the skin and disrupts the immune system but the most harmful effect of this agent are the byproducts produced when the additive is heated. The carcinogenic byproducts, Semicarbazide and Ethyl Carbamate, can damage human immune cells and cause free radical damage to DNA.