Smart consumers should research weird ingredients, but don't be surprised when you find that some are harmless — even healthy.
What is it? It's vitamin C's sassy alter ego. One of the duties of ascorbic acid (also called sodium ascorbate) is to prevent browning in cut fruits and veggies — but added benefits include healthy skin, teeth, bones, and cartilage. It's a water-soluble nutrient (meaning you simply pee out what your body doesn't need), so it's pretty hard to overdose.
Where you can find it: In some granola bars, cereals, and dressings.
What is it? This is good old vitamin E — the stuff you get when you cook dinner in vegetable oil, munch on nuts, or pile leafy greens onto your salad, says Robert Gravani, PhD, a professor of food science at Cornell University. In your body, it acts as an antioxidant, and it helps keep your immune system working. It's added to foods to keep products fresh.