Warning: You may want to discard this pack of brown sugar and cinnamon pop-tart.
According to a new peer-reviewed study published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a food preservative found in nearly 1,250 snacks can harm your immune system.
The preservative under fire is tert-butylhydroquinone, better known as TBHQ, which is used in many of your favorite snacks, including popcorn, Rice Crispies Treats and Cheez-It to extend their shelf life. Both animal and animal tests (called high-throughput in vitro toxicology studies) have shown that TBHQ impairs immune function.
RELATED: 7 healthiest foods to eat right away
TBHQ has long been used in processed foods, however, the EWG recently found that TBHQ affects immune cell proteins in doses similar to those that cause harm in traditional studies.
“The pandemic has focused public and scientific attention on environmental factors that may affect the immune system,” said Dr. Olga Naidenko, vice president of scientific research at EWG and lead author of the new study in a statement. “Before the pandemic, chemicals that could harm the immune system’s defenses against infection or cancer did not receive enough attention from public health agencies. To protect public health, this must change.”
Other studies have even indicated that TBHQ may negatively affect the effectiveness of influenza vaccination and may even play a role in the recent rise in food allergies among Americans.
In the book, Dictionary of food additives, author Ruth Winter, MS, explains that TBHQ contains a petroleum derivative of butane, a chemical compound that occurs in natural gas and crude oil, and is used alone or in tandem with other preservatives, such as BHA or BHT.
“The FDA has said that TBHQ should not exceed 0.02% oil and fat content,” Winter writes. “Death occurred by ingesting only 5 grams.”
While it is extremely unlikely that you would ever consume a lethal amount of 5 grams of TBHQ from food alone, even a few things can quietly wreak havoc on your immune system. However, it is important to note that this latest research has not been conducted on humans.
“To our knowledge, epidemiological studies have not yet been conducted to examine the impact of TBHQ on humans,” Naidenko said. Eat this, not that! “Such studies are important and need to be done, given that TBHQ is found in hundreds of food products.”
Although it may be difficult to completely avoid packaged and processed foods, this study may provide a reason to further limit the consumption of these types of foods.
“Sometimes, with hectic lives, families and individuals will turn to packaged foods. The EWG generally recommends avoiding such products when possible, not only because of TBHQ, but also because of added salt, sugar, processed fats and various other food additives. packaged food with a long shelf life usually has, “says Naidenko.
Here are four packaged foods that contain TBHQ:
Pop-tarts are the first snack mentioned in the study. Instead, try BoBo TOASTEeR breakfast pastries to fix it, but without all the harmful preservatives.
Unfortunately, this childhood snack boasts TBHQ and several other vibrant ingredients. Try simple grinders with almond flour Cheddar crackers for cleaner ingredients. Not to mention, they are also gluten free!
The soft, marshmallowy treat contains TBHQ, as well as added sugars and corn syrup. You are doing your body a favor by conveying this snack. Instead, consider trying Made Good Organic Vanilla Crispy Squares!
According to the ingredient inspector, before Hershey took ownership of Reese’s peanut butter cups, the chocolate treat was made from sugar cane and did not contain chemical preservatives. Now the candy contains TBHQ among other human and human ingredients used to extend shelf life, such as PGPR – an emulsifier that is cheaper and a cheaper alternative to cocoa butter.
Opt for Little Secrets Peanut Butter with Dark Chocolate Butter instead of avoiding these two preservatives and the other.
For more, be sure to check out These are the 12 dirtiest foods on food shelves, according to experts.