Artificial colors like Blue Dye No. 2, Yellow No. 5, Red No. 3 and No. 40
- Commonly found in: Fruit punch, soda, chewable vitamins, candy, cookies, jam, dressing, and cereal.
- Should you avoid? Skip them if possible. Red No. 3 has in some studies been linked to a slightly increased risk of cancer, according to the FDA.
Locust-bean gum, carrageenan, and guar gum
- Commonly found in: Infant formula, ice cream, syrup, marshmallows.
- Should you avoid? No. These thickening agents come from natural sources like seaweed.
Modified cornstarch or food starch
- Commonly found in: Pudding, cookies, cake, gravy, pasta, yogurt, breakfast cereal, some baby food.
- Should you avoid? No, unless your child is allergic to wheat, gluten, or corn.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil
- Commonly found in: Cereal, bread, frozen dinners, waffles, desserts, and candy.
- Should you avoid? Yes. Hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) increase cholesterol and heart-disease risk, which is why the FDA will require manufacturers to list trans-fatty-acid content on labels by 2006.
Sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite
- Commonly found in: Bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs, snack meals.
- Should you avoid? Limit it. Some studies show that nitrates in heavy amounts may be linked to cancer.