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The good, very bad, terrible world of food additives

The good, very bad, terrible world of food additives

Grocery shopping may be a daunting task for many people. But, there are certain things that you need to check before you buy food items. Everyone wants to buy fresh and healthy foods. Unfortunately, nowadays it has become too hard to find anything that is wholly organic in any shopping store.

Therefore, processed foods have taken over, their main USP being that they have higher shelf life and save us a lot of cooking time. But, what about the artificial coloring, preservatives, and flavoring used in them? Again, here it is important to note that not all food additives are bad for you.

Here is the list of the good, the bad, and the ugly food additives:

The Good

  • Antioxidants: These are the chemicals found in colorful fruits and vegetables. They have a special property to prevent certain diseases and boost immunity. Lycopene, is one such and it is found in tomatoes.
  • Carrageenan: It is thick, water-soluble additive found in seaweed that offers amazing health benefits. It forms a gel and is used as a stabilizer in milk, ice-cream, and bakery products.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are essential fatty acids that are good for the nervous system. Babies usually need them for brain and eye development. This food additive is found in pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Consuming them will increase good cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Nitrogen: This gas is used to keep packaged foods safe and fresh. Nitrogen flushing is the process that offers safe preservation of delicate foods. Packaged foods like coffee beans, nuts, rice cakes, crackers, and chips make use of nitrogen gas during the packing and sealing process.
  • Prebiotics & Probiotics: Probiotics are basically healthy bacteria that keep your digestive system healthy. While prebiotics are fibers that support the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut. Yogurt and fermented products naturally contain probiotics. Fructooligosaccarhides is a prebiotic that is added to foods to improve your health.
  • Vitamins & Minerals: You can try some baked foods that are enriched and offer vitamins and minerals. Additionally, you can have probiotic vitamin-enriched milk as it contains vitamin D and calcium that keep your bones strong.

The Bad

  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, the new artificial sweetener found in baking foods is linked to kidney tumors.  Some common food items that include artificial sweetener are diet coke, coke zero, desserts, sugar-free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, ice tea, chewable vitamins, and toothpaste.
  • Corn Syrup: High fructose corn syrup is a refined artificial sweetener that adds extra calories and increases the development of diabetes and the risk of tissue damage. You can find it in processed foods, breads, candy, salad, and canned vegetables.  
  • Trans Fats: It is found in fast foods and is the most dangerous substance that you consume. It increases cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attacks.
  • Food Dyes: Artificial coloring found in fruit juices and sodas are enriched with food dyes. These dyes may lead to reduction in IQ level usually in children.

The Ugly

  • Sodium Sulfite: It is a preservative used in wine-making and other processed foods. A majority of people consuming sodium sulfite suffer from asthma and headaches.
  • Sodium Nitrate: It is used in making corned beef, fish, hot dogs, and other processed meats. While in infants and babies, sodium nitrate can cause ‘blue baby syndrome’, in adults nitrates bind to red blood cells and hamper their ability to carry oxygen.
  • BHA & BHT: You can find these preservatives in cereals, chewing gums, chips, and vegetable oils. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) affects the neurological system.
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): It is used to add a savory, ‘meaty’ flavor to soups, chips, and frozen foods. Regular consumption of MSG can cause adverse side effects including depression, disorientation, fatigue, headache, and obesity.
  • Sulfur Dioxide: It is found in raw fruit and vegetables. The additive can increase the likelihood of adverse reactions in asthma, cardiovascular disease, and bronchitis.
  • Potassium Bromate: It is a powerful oxidizing agent used to chemically age flour much faster than air and increase volume of white flour, breads, and rolls. Even small amounts present in breads may cause health issues. 

Food additives are added to food during processing, sealing, and storage processes. Most of these additives only help improve flavor or increase shelf life, and have no nutritional value. So, the next time you go shopping for food items do remember to run a good check on the contents.

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