Beware of Certain Food additives in Processed Foods

Processed foods are convenient. They are simple to prepare, keep longer and have improved texture and flavor.  But, most processed foods also have additives which may have negative effects on your health. some of these food additives include preservatives, flavoring agents, coloring agents, emulsifiers, sweeteners, texturisers and stabilizers.

It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to ensure that their food products are clearly labelled. some of the common food additives are:

Preservatives: Examples are calcium propionate, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, sulphites and sodium nitrates. Nitrites can be converted to nitrosamines in the body. Nitrosamines have been shown to cause cancer. Sulfites can cause reactions in some people, especially asthmatics. they are generally banned in fresh fruits and vegetables except potatoes.

Flavoring agents: Used to enhance and create new flavors. Flavoring agents include spices, essential oils, monosodium glutamate (MSG), vanillin and limonene. Some people are sensitive to MSG and others with ulcers or mouth sores cannot tolerate foods with spices.

Coloring agents: These include caramel, beta-carotene and dyes. they are useful in providing rich colors such as yellow butter, green mint plus many more. About five dyes are approved as safe. for example red dyes number 2 and number 4 are not safe.

Sweeteners: These include saccharine and aspartame which are used as non-caloric sweeteners. Some sweeteners such as saccharine, have been associated with possible cancer link. Aspartame may cause symptoms in people with genetic disorder, phenylketonuria.

Emulsifiers: they are used to prevent separation of oil and water, to enhance flavor and retard spoilage. Common emulsifiers include monoglycerides, diglycerides, polysorbates and lecithin. Some emulsifiers, especially polysorbates, contain small amounts of cancer-causing carcinogens.

Texturisers and stabilizers: Pectin cellulose, gum, gelatine, modified starches and sodium alginate are used to add add body and thicken food. They are also used to improve texture and flavor. they prevent canned foods from separating.

Remember, these food additives are to be used in small quantities as they may displace needed nutrients if consumed in large amounts. So, reduce your consumption of bottled juices and sodas. Be alert to exactly what you are eating. we have shifted so much to instant foods and beverages forgotten about our fresh products. consider convenience verse health.

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