By Najwa Khan

Most Common Additives Found in "Healthy" Treats

0 sugar, low net carbs, low calories oh my!! More and more packaged food companies are making these claims today, however, does this actually mean you are eating a healthy treat. Certain brands are able to make such claims by using additives and sugar alcohols to get nutrition labels to seem “healthy” without listing out the health concerns potentially associated with using such substitutes. 

Many of these “healthy” packaged treats, candies, and snacks use additives to make your food sweet and dense. These additives may have adverse health impacts. Some are carcinogens, others are toxins, or simply chemicals that may cause severe digestive issues. Below you will find the most common additives used in everyday packaged treats.

Common Additives:

  1. TBHQ is a synthetic compound with potential side effects such as nausea, delirium, blindness, and collapse. Best case, potential common issues are allergies, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, and restlessness.

  2. Both artificial and natural flavors used to make your treats taste better are linked to headaches, depression, liver damage, and cancer based on some studies.

  3. Carrageenan is an emulsifier used to preserve food. More studies need to be done on this ingredient however early studies on animals indicate this emulsifier has cancer causing properties.

  4. Soy Lecithin is an emulsifier that is known to cause gastrointestinal issues such as inflammation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in some individuals. Over time these issues potentially have greater negative health impacts.

Common packaged food labels today highlight the additives they use as benefits versus acknowledging the potential health risks they impose. Can you spot the potentially toxic ingredients in the label below for this "healthy cake"?


The brand that makes these cakes touts health benefits and focuses on marketing 0g of sugar and low carbs. However, this brand does not identify that the product is made with additives with potentially hazardous impacts to your health. On the minor end, many of these additives, such as sunflower lecithin and erythritol, may cause stomach issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and inflammation. Overtime, continual inflammation and exposure to these additives may lead to more adverse health effects such as IBS, skin irritations, or autoimmune flare ups. 

Food transparency, especially with packaged treats, is missing in our current environment. We have been taught as consumers to only look at numbers, and ignore ingredients, ignore food composition, and the value in eating real food with zero additives and chemicals.