How healthy is your diet, really? Believe it or not, more than 3,000 chemicals are lurking in the foods on store shelves. Additives, preservatives, artificial dyes, and monosodium glutamate are just a few to mention. These compounds add flavor and consistency, extend shelf life, and prevent bacteria growth. Artificial sweeteners substitute sugar and make bland foods taste better. The same chemicals are also used in paint, solvents, plastic goods, and antifreeze. Some may cause addiction, leaving you craving for more. Fortunately, you can steer clear of these toxic compounds by reading food labels. Once you ditch them from your diet, your health will dramatically improve. Be aware that food additives, preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, and other chemicals have linked to chronic diseases. These toxins affect cardiovascular health, clog your arteries, promote tumor growth, and trigger inflammation. So, here are the five worst chemicals lurking in your food: Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate
These preservatives give meat and fish a pinkish color, and help prevent mold growth. They are commonly found in deli meats, bacon, sausages, and canned fish. When exposed to high heat, they release nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. The best way to avoid them is to purchase farm-raised meat and poultry. If you really love bacon, stick to nitrate-free varieties. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is added to thousands of foods, from pastries and chips to cake, deli meats, and bread. This liquid sweetener contains mercury and other contaminants that are not regulated by the FDA. Additionally, it's made from genetically modified corn. Researchers have linked HFCS to obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, leaky gut syndrome, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. This ingredient can not be used for energy, so it goes straight to your liver. Studies have found that people who consumed moderate amounts of HFCS for only two weeks experienced an increase in cholesterol and triglycerides. Monosodium Glutamate
Monosodium glutamate is a common ingredient in canned soups and vegetables, Chinese food, salad dressings, crackers, and frozen dinner. It serves as a flavor enhancer, making your meals more appealing. Unfortunately, it carries serious side effects that outweigh its benefits. This chemical over-stimulates the glutamate receptors in your body, causing heart arrhythmias, depression, fatigue, migraines, poor vision, and weight gain. In the long run, it affects cardiovascular health and lung function. Most people also experience short-term reactions, such as tingling, numbness, drowsiness, and chest pain after consuming this ingredient. Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
This type of fat is heavily processed and has a long shelf life. It can be found in margarine, cheese spreads, cookies, pastries, and junk food. Also known as trans fat, it clogs your arteries, increases bad cholesterol, and affects brain function. The FDA is planning to ban this ingredient within the next three years. Trans fats are considered a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity. Artificial Food Colorings
Blue #1, blue #2, yellow #5, yellow #6, and other food colorings are commonly used in processed foods. These chemicals have been shown to cause ADHD in children, trigger allergic reactions, and affect liver health. In clinical trials, artificial dyes have increased the risk of cancer in rats. Sweden and other countries have already banned these toxic compounds because of their side effects. To stay safe, choose foods made with natural dyes like beta-carotene, curry, and turmeric.