Have you ever wondered how a can of baked beans stays on your shelf for a year , not getting rotten?
Well, it's all due to the power of preservation and the secret of additives. But beware, there are a number of food additives that can also challenge your health. These additives are particular substances that are added to specific foods in order to improve their appearance, the taste, and even to preserve the flavour that the food has.
Food additives are natural-based and artificial-based. There are different types of food additives: preservatives, enzymes, sweeteners, emulsifiers, modified starch, colourants, thickener or stabilisers. While additives have been used in various types of foods, medical professionals have only recently discovered that some of these substances can actually affect your health.
Says Kinita S Kadakia, a diet consultant, “Different food additives are added for different purposes: To improve shelf life or storage time, to make food convenient and easy to prepare, to increase the nutritional value, to improve the flavour of foods, to enhance the attractiveness of food products and improve consumer acceptance. However, manipulation of food by addition of chemicals can have a profound effect on the biochemical balance of our body.”
Hence, one should have natural foods that can provide essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to the body.
Additives to avoid and their health risks:
Hydrogenated fats -- cardiovascular disease, obesity.
Artificial food colours -- allergies, asthma, hyperactivity; possible carcinogen
Nitrites and nitrates -- these substances can develop into nitrosamines in body, which can be carcinogenic.
Sulfites (sulfur dioxide, metabisulfites, and others) -- allergic and asthmatic reactions
Sugar and sweeteners -- obesity, dental cavities, diabetes and increased triglycerides (blood fats) or candida (yeast)
Artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K and saccharin) -- behavioural problems, hyperactivity, allergies, and possibly carcinogenic. Food labels caution against the use of any artificial sweetener by children and pregnant women. Anyone with PKU (phenylketonuria -- a problem of phenylalanine, an amino acid, metabolism) should not use aspartame.
MSG (monosodium glutamate) -- common allergic and behavioural reactions, including headaches, dizziness, chest pain, depression and mood swings, also a possible neurotoxin.
Preservatives (BHA, BHT, EDTA, etc) -- allergic reactions, hyperactivity, possibly cancer causing; BHT may be toxic to the nervous system and the liver.
Artificial flavours -– allergic reactions.
Refined flour -- low-nutrient calories, carbohydrate imbalances, altered insulin production.
Salt (excessive) -- fluid retention and blood pressure increases.
Be aware and create awareness to reduce and avoid consumption of such foods.
* The first step is to sharpen your awareness about what you’re currently eating.
* Wash all of your fruits and vegetables before consumption.
* Fresh foods are always the first and best choice, then frozen, canned foods as last resort. If you must buy canned foods, consider the ones with the lowest sodium content.
(Inputs by Kinita S Kadakia, diet consultant)