If you’re one of those people who improves their anti-aging diet by checking out food labels—which we all should get into the habit of doing more often—what exactly are you looking for? Chances are, most of you are looking at the calorie, fat, sodium, sugar, and carbohydrate counts when deciding whether or not to add something to your anti-aging diet. However, there are a slew of other ingredients out there we also need to take into account when choosing what is and isn’t safe to eat.
The one thing that the labels on most anti-aging foods won’t tell you is if any of the ingredients listed have been banned in other countries. This is important information, and yet, no one will tell you why. If a certain ingredient is deemed dangerous enough to be labeled unsafe for consumption in certain countries, but it’s in that product you’re about to add to your anti-aging diet, wouldn’t you want to know?
Here’s a list of five ingredients that have been banned in other countries, and yet, they are still being used in many anti-aging foods here in the U.S.
1. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
These ingredients can often be found in many of your favorite cereals and potato chip bags, as well as chewing gum, butter, and some varieties of mixed nuts. BHA and BHT are used as preservatives to give foods a longer shelf life. They have both been recognized as safe to include in your anti-aging diet, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, they have also been shown to raise cancer risks in animal testing.
BHA and BHT are banned in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and throughout Europe.
This ingredient is usually found in bread products—it’s used to bleach and enhance the texture, so that it can be manufactured faster. To give you an idea of how toxic it can be in your anti-aging diet, consider this: it’s also used in the production of plastic products like yoga mats and sneaker soles. The chemical compound has been shown to interfere with respiratory health, causing asthmatic and allergic reactions in some people.
It’s banned in Australia, Europe, and the U.K. In Singapore, anyone found using this ingredient can face 15 years in jail, along with a fee of close to $500,000.
If you have never heard of this ingredient, make a note of it now. Olestra is a food additive used in the U.S. to make products fat-free—so that savory fat-free snack might not be as healthy as you thought for your anti-aging diet. You’ll probably find this fat substitute in things like potato chips, crackers, even French fries. Some of the known side effects include gas, painful cramps, and diarrhea. What makes it even worse is that it can interfere with your body’s natural ability to absorb essential vitamins, which makes it detrimental to your anti-aging diet plan.
Olestra is banned in Canada and the U.K.
4. Blue Dye No. 1 (FD&C, or Brilliant Blue)
This ingredient can be found in things like ice cream, cereals, packaged soup, candy, and even baked goods. Research has connected Blue Dye No. 1 to hyperactivity, allergies, asthma, learning inefficiencies, and irritability. Other studies have also found that it can seep into the bloodstream when consumed—all the more reason to nix it from your anti-aging diet.
This food dye has been banned in France, Switzerland, Greece, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.
5. Yellow Dyes No. 5 (Tartrazine) and 6
While these particular food dyes make things like cereal, pudding, frozen waffles, and “Kraft Dinner” appear more attractive, you may want to start eliminating them from your anti-aging diet. When tested on rats, these dyes showed significant damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys and liver, with both high and low doses. Several studies have also shown that these dyes can make children more hyperactive.
They are both banned in Finland and Norway. In the U.K., products containing Yellow 5 and/or 6 have to include a warning about its effect on “activity and attention in children.”
“12th Report on Carcinogens,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program web site, June 10, 2011; https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/twelfth/profiles/ButylatedHydroxyanisole.pdf.
Amin, K. A., et al., “Effect of food azo dyes tartrazine and carmoisine on biochemical parameters related to renal, hepatic function and oxidative stress biomarkers in young male rats,” Food and Chemical Toxicology 2010; 48(10): 2994-2999.
Dunham, D., “Blue Dye Is More Toxic To Our Health Than We Thought,” Blisstree web site, January 17, 2013; https://www.blisstree.com/2013/01/17/food/blue-dye-toxic-health/.
“Food Dyes: Are They Safe?” The Dr. Oz Show web site, March 13, 2013; https://www.doctoroz.com/videos/food-dyes-are-they-safe.
Gentilviso, C., “The 50 Worst Inventions,” TIME web site, May 27, 2010; https://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1991915_1991909_1991785,00.html.
Goyanes, C., “13 Banned Foods Still Allowed in the U.S.,” Shape web site, July 25, 2013; https://www.shape.com/blogs/shape-your-life/13-banned-foods-still-allowed-us.
Oaklander, M., “New fear about food dyes,” FOX News web site, January 17, 2013; https://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/01/16/new-fear-about-food-dyes/.
O’Brien, R., “Who Knew There’s Yoga Mat in Your Hamburger Bun?” Prevention web site, April 10, 2013; https://blogs.prevention.com/inspired-bites/2013/04/10/who-knew-theres-yoga-mat-in-your-hamburger-bun/.
Ophardt, C. E., “Olestra – Fake Fat,” Elmhurst College web site; https://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/558olestra.html, last accessed October 4, 2013.