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Food Preservatives to Avoid

by Jamie Simpson

About Jamie Simpson

Jamie Simpson is a researcher and journalist based in Indianapolis with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. She earned her B.S. in animal science from Purdue University and her Master of Public Affairs in public management from Indiana University. Simpson also works as a massage therapist and equine sports massage therapist.



The contents in your food sometimes exceed commonly identified ingredients. Many foods also contain preservatives, which are designed to help prevent spoilage, mold and dampness, as well as extend the shelf life of the product. Eating a healthy diet can therefore mean you need to read labels carefully to ensure that your favorite foods and dietary staples don't contain one of the key food preservatives to avoid.

Calcium Sulphite

Calcium sulphite is a food preservative used when manufacturers want to make a food item look fresh. Like other sulphites, calcium sulphite is found in many frozen foods, such as biscuits or vegetables, and may be used to preserve meats or fruits since the sulphite can stop the color changes in the food as it reacts with oxygen. However, calcium sulphite and other members of the sulphite group are linked to bronchial problems, low blood pressure and anaphylactic shock, according to a June 2004 article in Medical News Today. If you already have cardiovascular or breathing problems you may want to take special care to avoid calcium sulphite, as the Asthma Center specifically names sulphites as potential asthma attack triggers.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a food preservative you may want to avoid due to its effects on the human attention span and potential to worsen asthma symptoms. According to a study published in September 2007 in "The Lancet," sodium benzoate can make you more distractible than usual and may be particularly problematic for children with ADHD. This food preservative in particular is linked to hyperactivity in children. According to the Asthma Center, sodium benzoate may also worsen symptoms of asthma, though this is considered a rare side effect of eating foods that contain this preservative. Sodium benzoate is commonly found in soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressing.

Potassium Nitrate

Potassium nitrate is found in processed meats and canned meat products, according to the June 2004 Medical News Today article. Known as saltpetre by the Romans, it has been used since ancient times. The preservative is associated with lowered oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and can contribute to atrophy in the adrenal glands.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.