Know Your Food Preservatives - The Good & The Bad

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 10:36 am IST

Food preservatives have emerged out to be an integral part of our everyday life. Turning back and looking at the list of ingredients in some of the everyday food items, we get to see the name of mindboggling ingredients that look like something out of a chemistry book. These are your basic, everyday preservatives, added in your food to prevent it from the attack of bacteria’s and other micro organisms. Though these preservatives must be approved by the FDA not all of them are safe for the consumption.

However, let’s have a look at the preservatives that are good for the general populace:

The good:

The preferred preservatives such as Citric Acid and Vitamin C are generally the by - products of natural derivatives and are not known to cause any kind of allergic reactions in people when taken in a small quantity. Vitamin C emerges out as one of major preservative which is used in foods all over the world. Apart from being a great nutritional supplement and a super vitamin, it has been doubly used as a preservative in some of the major foods. Also, it is extensively used as a preservative in jellies, flours and mushrooms in order to enhance the flavour and keep the foods fresh and colourful.

Citric Acid also emerges as a preservative which is extensively used to keep the bacteria away. It has proven to be greatly beneficial as a supplement of Vitamin C and causes no known side effects. It is best used in colas for preservation and enhancement of the flavour. Ph balance maintains is another strong suit of Citric Acid.

The bad:

BHA and BHT emerge as the top leaders when it comes to the preservatives that can do you harm. Researchers have proven that these are carcinogens (agents causing cancer) and people consuming a high quantity of these can suffer from a bad metabolism. In some of the countries such as Japan, Sweden and Romania, they have been banned. Prominently, these preservatives are found in foods like packed snacks, butter, processed foods like dehydrated potatoes amongst many.

Sodium Nitrate ranks second in our list of unhealthy preservatives. It is also a widely known carcinogen and being a salt is used extensively by companies to cure and preserve meats. It is majorly used in bacon and ham in order to render a red colour. Found greatly in hot dogs, sausages and ham, it is known to be found in smoked fish as well.

Though preservatives are necessary in the food industry these days, it is up to us to decide what we choose from the palate in front of us. It is important to carefully choose the food that you eat in order to inculcate healthy living.

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