by Andrew Souret:

All kids have something in common: they love to eat! From burgers to pizza to chocolate covered bacon, kids want something to soothe their cravings. However, do kids know what exactly they are eating? Many kids in this generation eat all these foods without really knowing what is in them. Could this meal have some secret ingredient that might be harmful to you?

Mrs. Jacobson, the school nurse, states that “the more ingredients in a food item, the worse it is for you.” One type of food that is surprisingly bad for you is cereal. Students tend to eat cereal to get a quick breakfast so that they have enough time to get ready for school. However, cereal has many ingredients that may be harmful to students. “Some cereals have high fructose corn syrup, additives and preservatives,” says Jacobson. Cereals like Smart Start Strong Heart Toasted Oat and even Raisin Bran have loads of preservatives and sugar.

Additives are substances that enhance a food’s flavor and appearance. Preservatives are a form of matter that prevents decomposition of food. Preservatives have various effects on the body. Sometimes, the more preservatives the body consumes, the worse your body becomes. You can suffer from heart disease, stroke, and even cancer. For example, dried fruits and vegetables have synthetic preservatives called sulfites which can act as irritants for people with asthma. A preservative called sodium benzoate, found in pickles, flour, soy sauce and toothpaste, is linked to leukemia, cirrhosis of the liver, and Parkinson’s disease and triggers allergies. Many of your favorite snacks have loads of preservatives, including Hot Cheetos and Munchies.

Another type of food is Jell-O; Jell-O is a kid’s favorite because of its variety of flavors and gooey, delicious texture. However, there is one thing about Jell-O many kids might not know about. Jell-O is made of animal bone marrow. It is also mixed with artificial colorings, flavorings, and refined sugar. Then, it is filled with additives to preserve it and keep it from clumping.

As you can see, there are many foods that have ingredients that could pose a threat to the well-being of the people who consume them. “It is best to eat foods that are close to nature, a lot of fruits and vegetables, and whole grain,” says Jacobson. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t have a small treat here and there. “It’s okay to eat sweets now and then, but only in moderation,” states Jacobson. It is best to pay attention to the foods you eat because you never know what might be in them.