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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Better School Food = Eliminate Unhealthy Ingredients

Better School Food's List of Unhealthy Ingredients
and other food additives to avoid when raising healthy children...

Below is a list of unhealthy ingredients researched and compiled by
Better School Food. Each ingredient is defined, including some of the known effects of ingesting the ingredient. We hope you'll work to remove these ingredients from your school cafeterias, vending machines, and any other areas where food is involved. For further information, visit the internet resources listed and search sites for each specific ingredient.

1. Partially Hydrogenated Oil

  • Semi-solid shortening made from liquid oils (such as canola and soybean) by reacting them with hydrogen
  • Hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats
  • Gives baked goods and snacks a longer shelf life
  • Used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S. according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
  • Trans fats increase harmful LDL cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol, both of which contribute to heart disease
  • For more information, visit:

2. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

  • BVO is an additive created by mixing vegetable oil with the element bromine
  • Gives the flavoring oils in soda the same density as water
  • The emulsified flavor oils stay suspended in the drink, boosting flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks
  • Causes a significant increase of triglyceride and cholesterol content in both heart and liver
  • Residues in rats accumulated in body fat, damaging organs including heart, liver, thyroid, testicles, and kidneys
  • For more information, visit:

3. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

  • HFCS was developed in the 1970s because it was cheaper than cane and beet sugar
  • Easier to blend in beverages; maintains sweetness better; prevents freezer burn; reduces crystallization; keeps baked goods soft and helps them brown
  • With a high glycemic index, it converts to fat more than any other sugar
  • It alters the metabolic rate in a way that favors fat storage
  • Research suggests that it is a major factor of obesity
  • HFCS increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, strokes, and cancer
  • HFCS is not easily metabolized by the liver
  • For more information, visit:

4. Artificial Colors & Flavorings

  • Artificial colors are chemical compounds made mainly from coal-tar derivatives
  • Food coloring is used to give color, lost during processing, back to food to make it more attractive
  • Artificial colors have been linked to allergic reactions, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity, headaches and fatigue
  • Artificial flavors are cheaply produced chemical mixtures that mimic a natural flavor
  • Artificial flavors also linked to numerous sensitivities
  • For more information, visit:

5. Benzoate Preservatives: BHT, BHA, TBHQ

  • Benzoates are antioxidants normally used as sodium, potassium, or calcium salts and their derivatives
  • Benzoate preservatives are phenolic compounds often added to foods to preserve fats and prevent the fats from becoming rancid; also used as a de-foaming agent
  • Benzoates are often used in cereals, butter, meats, baked goods, snack foods, dehydrated potatoes, and beer
  • Can result in hyperactivity, asthma, urticaria, rhinitis, dermatitis and angiodema
  • Believed to cause tumors in lab rats
  • Benzoate preservatives are (weakly) estrogenic
  • For more information, visit:

6. Caffeine

  • Caffeine is a mildly additive stimulant
  • Caffeine increases heartbeat, respiration, basil metabolic rate, gastro enteric reflexes and production of stomach acid and urine
  • Caffeine affects the kidneys, increasing urination which can lead to dehydration
  • Caffeine is metabolized by the liver
  • Caffeine can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, heart disease, jitteriness, headaches, irritability, sleeplessness, possible birth defects, and depression
  • For more information, visit:

7. Artificial Sweeteners

  • Acesulfame-K: commonly used in sugar-free baked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts and soft drinks. May be cancerous
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet): can cause sensitivities resulting in headaches, dizziness, and hallucinations
  • Saccharin: has resulted in cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skins, blood vessels and other organs in lab rats; may cause bladder cancer
  • Sucralose (Splenda): artificial sweetener used mainly in diet foods; made by chemically reacting sugar with chlorine
  • Sorbitol: a sweetener used as a thickening agent; maintains moisture in dietetic drinks, foods, candy, shredded coconut and chewing gum; commonly has a laxative effect
  • For more information, visit:

8. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

  • MSG is an amino acid flavor enhancer
  • Flavor enhancers are believed to stimulate appetites contributing to obesity
  • MSG is used mainly in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soup and chips
  • Sensitivities to MSG include headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensation, and difficulty breathing
  • Flavor enhancers in infant mice destroyed nerve cells
  • For more information, visit:

9. Olestra

  • Olestra is an indigestible fat substitute used mainly in foods that are fried and baked
  • It is a non-absorbable lipid-like substance that inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients
  • Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding, and incontinence.
  • Olestra can collect and assimilate fat-soluble vitamins present in other foods, reducing their ability to be absorbed. Long-term use of Olestra can reduce fat-soluble vitamin (including E, A, D and K) absorption.
  • For more information, visit:

10. Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate

  • Preservatives used in preserving, coloring and flavoring cured meats and fish
  • They prevent botulism and are a color fixative
  • Nitrites/Nitrates can combine with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a highly carcinogenic substance
  • For more information, visit:

Other Useful Websites/Sources

This information taken from Better School Food web site:



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