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There are many controversial additives approved by the FDA that have been demonstrated by various scientific studies to be harmful towards humans. Here is a list of five of the most notorious:
1: Sodium Nitrate
Sodium nitrate is a chemical compound added to various meats to prolong their shelf-life. It is usually found in hotdogs, bacon, ham, and other similar products that are marketed to keep for a long time compared to fresh meat. While this salt additive works immensely well in terms of preservation, it has also raised a few red flags in the health department. 
Aside from the obvious link between salt additives and hypertension, sodium nitrate also has toxic effects on the body. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), ingestion of sodium nitrate in toxic amounts can cause abdominal pain, convulsions, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and even loss of consciousness. With the amount of processed food we eat every day, maybe it’s time to switch to organic fruit and vegetables for a while. 
Monosodium glutamate is another well-known food additive – intended to prolong the shelf-life of food and (allegedly) improve its taste. This chemical is likely the most controversial item on this list, because it is FDA approved despite people reporting harrowing side effects akin to allergic reactions (e.g. dizziness, rashes, chest pain). While the FDA states that MSG is “general recognized at safe”, they still require food items that contain it to include in the label. 
The BBC published a report in 2015 about a study by Dr. Olney that showed how MSG, whether ingested or injected intravenously, caused neurologic damage to the test subjects, basically killing of healthy brain tissue. The test subjects were mice, and when they became adults had growth, weight, and reproductive problems. Although these results were not replicated completely in other studies, we should still be wary of MSG in our diet. When ordering Chinese food, inquire if MSG is used in their cooking process. 
3: Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromate is a chemical popularly used in processing flour to improve dough quality, allowing “higher rising” of bread during the baking process. Despite the FDA allowing its use as a flour improver, there have been many studies that link potassium bromate to various unhealthy effects on the human body. A 2009 study by Wei, et al. found that potassium bromate caused kidney cancer when ingested in high doses. More recent studies in 2014 and 2015 have linked the chemical to oxidative damage in tissues and red blood cells, which can contribute to the formation of cancer cells. Different countries have also banned potassium bromate early on, like the United Kingdom. If this chemical has been linked to cancer, better avoid it, and all forms of brominated flour and pastries all together. 
4: Acesulfame Potassium
In a world that is in a constant battle against diabetes, the popularity of artificial sweeteners has sky rocketed. Low-calorie and basically anti-glucose, artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Equal are marketed as “healthy” alternatives to sugar. However, like most artificial food additives, acesulfame potassium is not completely safe. While this additive is FDA approved, a study by Cong, et. al. in 2013 found that long-term ingestion of this sweetener caused neurologic and metabolic alterations in the body. While the FDA sticks to their statement that acesulfame potassium doesn’t cause cancer, maybe it’s time to get your sugar fix from natural sources like fruits and vegetables. 
Olestra or “Olean” is a fat substitute designed to mimic the taste of fat without having any actual calories. In theory it sounds like a dieter’s dream come true — but Purdue University has immediately debunked that weight loss myth. While this additive isn’t banned by the FDA, it lost its popularity after numerous reports of diarrhea and other disastrous gastrointestinal effects like anal leakage were widely reported in the US. A study published by the Purdue University found that olestra actually caused weight gain, not weight loss as advertised, because it causes disruptions in the body’s metabolic processes, leading to unwanted weight gain. Diarrhea and weight gain? No, thank you. Best opt for healthier snacks instead. 
 Zeratsky, K. Does the sodium nitrate in processed meat increase my risk of heart disease? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sodium-nitrate/faq-20057848
 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Sodium Nitrate. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0185.html
 Zeratsky, K. What is MSG? Is it bad for you? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/monosodium-glutamate/faq-20058196
 Nogrady, B. (2015). Monosodium glutamate is blamed for a range of nasty side effects. But is there evidence to back up these claims? http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151106-is-msg-as-bad-as-its-made-out-to-be
 Wei, M., et. al. (2009). Potassium bromate enhances N-ethyl-N-hydroxyethylnitrosamine-induced kidney carcinogenesis only at high doses in Wistar rats: indication of the existence of an enhancement threshold. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19833912
 Ben Saad, H., et. al. (2014). A mineral and antioxidant-rich extract from the red marine Algae Alsidium corallinum exhibits cytoprotective effects against potassium bromate-induced erythrocyte oxidative damages in mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24913101
 Sultan, M., et. al. (2015). Nigella sativa fixed and essential oil modulates glutathione redox enzymes in potassium bromate induced oxidative stress. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26385559
 Aguayo, J., et. al. (2015). Potassium bromate. http://www.ewg.org/research/potassium-bromate
 Cong, W., et. al. (2013). Long-term artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium treatment alters neurometabolic functions in C57BL/6J mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23950916
 Hutchison, C. (2011). Not So (O)Lean: Eating Faux Fat Makes Rats Real Fat. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Diet/eating-fake-fat-makes-real-fat-olestra-study/story?id=13893613
 Purdue University. (2011). Study: Trying to lose weight? Lose the fat substitutes. http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/110621SwithersObesity.html
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