We live in a consumer driven society where there is a product out there promising to clean any stain or spill. We all know there are harmful chemicals in some of our household cleaners, but there are some hidden chemicals right on our plates! Get informed about which chemicals to look for in your foods and which to keep off your dinner table.

Mercury: Mercury can be found in fish and other seafood items. You should be very careful if your children are tuna lovers as tuna is susceptible to mercury poisoning. According to Medical News Today, autistic children’s nervous systems are more effected by mercury poisoning than their siblings or other children. Too much mercury can result in your kids having digestive system and kidney troubles as well as having a hard time learning. Tuna salad is a common school lunch, and staff from the Food Safety Program say to limit our children’s tuna consumption.

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Pesticides: Because vital organs continue to grow after birth, children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides, which can be sprayed on grass, carpets and foods. Pesticides in food are linked to the rising numbers of children with ADHD. Even more interesting is that people who switch to an all organic diet knock down the pesticide byproducts in their urine by 85-90%.

Artificial colors: Boxed mac ‘n cheese, juices and candy might come to mind when you think about artificial colors; however, colors are also “hidden” in yogurts, whole wheat cereal, whole wheat pizza crusts, granola bars, medicine and vitamins. Artificial colors are linked to behavioral problems, hyper activity, and ADHD in children.

BPA: Many of us know to buy BPA-free (Bisphenol A) bottles and toys for our children, but what we might not know is that it’s in almost all hard plastic around us: water bottles, plates, even lining in canned food. According to WebMD, BPA is said to cause cancer, obesity, diabetes and brain and behavior problems, as well as hormone development disruption in fetuses, infants, and young children. (photo credit here)

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Aspartame: Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used to sweeten many products without adding calories. Aspartame may cause children to be more aggressive and depressed, and is thought to kill brain cells. According to the American Cancer Society, brain tumors in children have increased rapidly since aspartame was released in the 80s. Aspartame is found in many chewing gums, toothpastes, diet sodas and other “diet” products like cereal, granola bars, processed foods, etc. Many juices which claim to be lower in sugar can do so because they’ve added aspartame to the mix. Read more about the debate on aspartame here.

Sodium nitrite: Most kids love hot dogs, sausages, lunch meats, bacon and other processed meats, but did you know that many of those products contain sodium nitrates? According to Livestrong, children who eat processed meats more than once a week have an increased risk of developing leukemia. Other complications that are linked to sodium nitrates are diabetes, diarrhea and upper respiratory problems. The best way to avoid these risks is to limit your child’s processed meat intake, including looking for nitrate-free options.

Be on the lookout for the additives listed above, as too much of them could obviously be harmful to your children’s health.