Here are some of the food additives in bars and the possible effects, and some other nutritional data I was checking for:
- TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone) - This preservative is a petroleum derivative. Sounds yummy, huh? Even in small quantity this preservative has been known cause nausea, and ringing of the ears. There are also suggestions that it may lead to hyperactivity and asthma in children.
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils (trans fat) – Trans Fats are responsible for raising the LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering the HDL (good cholesterol), and are linked to diabetes, coronary disease, obesity, and others. Don’t let zero trans fat fool you. Food companies are aloud to market 0g of trans fat as long as there is less than .5g per serving. That doesn’t mean they reduce the amount of trans fat to get below the .5g mark, they just change the serving size.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – All sugars should be limited in our diets, and high fructose corn syrup is no exception. There is an on-going debate whether high fructose corn syrup is causing the obesity epidemic. Princeton proved it may be the cause during a recent study.
- Caramel Color - There are four types of caramel coloring that can be added to food. Two of the four are made with ammonia, and The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked the FDA to ban them. The term ‘caramel color’ is very misleading when it’s actually ammonia, not caramel at all! I avoid caramel coloring whenever I see it.
- Artificial Food Dyes – Not only are artificial food dyes linked to behavioral problems, diabetes, obesity, and asthma, the three most used food dyes (red-40, yellow-5, and yellow-6) contain cancer causing substances. Like TBHQ, most food dyes are also petroleum based. Get them out of your food!
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) – A preservative that is added to keep fats from going rancid but is possibly linked to cancer. This preservative is also common in cereals, gum, make-up and lotions. There have not been enough studies to show whether this preservative is safe, so be safe and keep it out of your food.
- Sugar – Finding a store bought bar that does not have sugar listed as the first or second ingredient is next to impossible. Be aware if you are buying these, there is more sugar in many of these than any other ingredient. I tried to stick to bars that were lower in sugar or bars that contain natural sugar from dates.