How Do Food Additives Affect Your Health?

In the modern world, much of the food has chemicals, preservatives, coloring agents, flavor enhancers and any number of substances added to it as part of the production process. According to Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, there are about 700 food additives allowed for use in the United States. While these additives are generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they do have health affects.


Some food additives have been the subject of scrutiny because of their purported carcinogenic effects. For example, some people believe that artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame and others can cause cancer. The National Cancer institute reports that even though some studies have shown extremely high doses of some sweeteners have increased the rates of some cancers in laboratory animals, such as mice and rats, no evidence exists to show these sweeteners raise the risk of cancer in people who consume them.

 Other Additives

Apart from food additives, food producers commonly add other substances, such as salt and sugar, to food as part of the manufacturing process. While these substances aren't considered additives, they too have an effect on your health. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people should ingest about 1,500 mg of sodium a day for ideal health. Many people, especially those who eat a lot of processed foods, ingest far more than this amount, making them more at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

 FDA Approval

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for ensuring that all proposed food additives are safe for human consumption before manufacturers introduce them into the marketplace. However, just because a food additive is considered safe does not mean you should eat foods with additives with impunity. Maintaining a carefully balanced diet, limiting your intake of nutrients such as sodium and cholesterol and limiting your calorie intake are the best ways to maintain optimum health, regardless of food additives.