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BHA-bye, and No BHTs!

For most people, it’s sweets. For some, it’s coffee. But for me, my guilty pleasure is chips! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have a “salty tooth” (and I’ll never tire of saying it until the end). While most people can consume bars—no, blocks—of chocolate, and some people chug mugs of coffee, I can devour bags of chips in one sitting! Just put on a good movie and sit me in a comfortable couch, and I can easily forget the world and the people around me. What with the addictive properties of fried potatoes, I can grab-munch-and-repeat those chips to infinity and beyond. Unfortunately for me, that is the quickest recipe to turn me into a couch potato. If it were not for two things, perhaps I would not have reconsidered my undying diet for deep fried carbs: one, my wife who constantly looks out for me and my health; and two, a quote I came across from Berkeley Wellness. It says: “Pick up a bag of chips, a bottle of vegetable oil, a package of sausage or a box of cereal or cookies and chances are you’ll find BHA and/or BHT in the ingredients list.” This led me to read more about BHA and/or BHT and come to a life-saving realization before it was too late.

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are food additives commonly used as preservatives. Not only are they applied on food, but they are also used to preserve fats and oils in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. BHA and/or BHT are commonly found in chewing gum, potato chips, beer, lard, instant mashed potatoes, butter, cereals, breads, crackers, preserved meat, baked goods, dry beverage and dessert mixes, shortening, foods with fats and oils, food packaging, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil, jet fuels, and embalming fluid. I don’t know about you, but if what is put in embalming fluid is the same thing found in my food, then that’s an obvious no-no for me. That’s just a no-brainer right there.

According to Megan Roosevelt, the Healthy Grocery Girl:

Both BHT and BHA are toxic and hard on your liver to metabolize. Your liver is your primary detox organ, the first organ to help take a substance in your body and either metabolize it for your body’s benefit or excrete it. If your liver can not metabolize a chemical or nutrient you’ve consumed, then it can store up in your body leading to further degeneration of your healthy cells, which can eventually lead to diet-related disease.

In other words, if it takes an unnaturally long time before the liver digest it, then I personally don’t think it has any business staying inside my body.

Almost all evidence point to the same conclusion. Businessweek released an article back in 1995 saying: “Repeated studies have shown that BHA and BHT increase the risk of cancer as well as accumulate in body tissue, cause liver enlargement, and retard the rate of DNA synthesis and thus, cell development.” An article released in the last five years reveals that nothing has changed; Chelynne Renouard from Deseret News said: “BHA and BHT have been known to impair blood clotting when consumed in high quantities, and promote tumor growth.” The Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS says this about BHT:

Do NOT let this chemical enter the environment.


Ingestion causes: Abdominal pain. Confusion. Dizziness. Nausea. Vomiting.

The substance may have effects on the liver.

The substance is harmful to aquatic organisms.

According to Megan Roosevelt, even The World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have labelled BHT and BHA as potential carcinogens (cancer causers). Bottomline: BHA and BHT are dangerous to your health. What confuses me is why both chemicals are still readily available in the U.S. while they are banned in Japan, England, and in many other European countries (www.deseretnews.com).

Luckily, there's an equally effective alternative to these preservatives: vitamin E. Luke Yoquinto, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor from livescience.com, says: “This essential nutrient fulfills the same exact role as BHA and BHT, and there's no doubt that it's perfectly safe in small doses.”

All this information about BHA and BHT has helped me look at a bag of chips (or anything else that contains BHA/BHT) with a grain of salt (pun intended). It has made me think twice before satisfying the urge of my stubborn “salty tooth” and opening the next bag of chips within my reach. No more, fried potatoes! It’s about time I said “BHA-bye,” and “No BHTs!”








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