What are Phosphates? They're chemical compounds frequently added to processed foods like sodas, lunch meats, cheeses, cakes, and cookies to improve shelf life, consistency, texture, moisture, and color (among other things). But researchers found that these compounds also can increase risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

High consumption of phosphates leads to excess production of a powerful hormone produced in bone cells called fibroblast growth factor 23 (a.k.a. the no-less-catchy FGF23) which leads to high sodium in blood (high blood pressure) and calcium absorption by kidney.(vascular calcification)

A study published in July 2013 in the Journal of Renal Nutrition reported that after examining the labels of nearly 3,000 best-selling grocery items in northeast Ohio, 44 percent were found to contain added phosphates. Broken down further, added phosphates were found in 72 percent of prepared frozen foods, 70 percent of dry-food mixes, 65 percent of packaged meats, 57 percent of bread and baked goods, 54 percent of soups, and 51 percent of yogurts. The same study found that foods containing phosphates are cheaper than additive-free alternatives—which raises all kinds of sociopolitical red flags.

The best way to avoid Phosphate is to avoid processed food and stick to real, whole foods—even if they cost a bit more.

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