A chemical in most breads and baked goods, potassium bromate, has been linked with kidney cancer and liver damage
If our relationship with carbs had to have an official status, it would most definitely be, "It's complicated." But a new study might be what finally convinces you to break up with your morning bagel: Certain additives in many processed carbohydrates may actually cause cancer, according to a new analysis of 86 popular breads and baked goods by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The culprit is potassium bromate, an ingredient in most processed baked goods that's added to flour to firm up the dough and give it that unnaturally white color you've learned to steer clear of whenever possible. In fact, it's one of 14 Banned Foods Still Allowed in the U.S. and now, the EWG's analysis has found that potassium bromate has been directly linked to kidney cancer and thyroid tumor growth in animal studies and, even more alarming, causes damage to genetic material in human liver and intestinal cells—talk about being bad for your belly!
These highly-processed single-grain carbs (think: pasta, white bread) can also screw with your blood sugar and even your mental health (find out more in How Bad and Good Carbs Affect Your Brain). Yikes!
But before you swear off carbs completely, remember that that the EWG's analysis pertains just to the scary white stuff, which means the enemy is processed white breads and baked goods (check out the EWG's full list of foods containing potassium bromate). Good carbs of the whole grain variety are still your friend, especially since they do great things like power you through those long runs (hallelujah, carbo-loading!) and even add years to your life, since a Low Carb Diet is Linked to Shorter Life Expectancy.
If you're still holding on to those processed pastries or that daily bagel from the break room, it's seriously time to cut them out in favor of whole grain goodies made with additive-free flours. And if you're getting a little bored of your whole grain go-tos, try one of these 7 Whole Grains to Break You Out of Your Brown Rice Rut.