Not All Preservatives Are Bad
Because of the publicity about not eating preservatives, many people think of them as “all bad.” However, this is not true. Some substances added to food serve useful purposes.
Benefits of Certain Preservatives:
- Sulfites – Sulfites are naturally occurring in some fresh fruits and vegetables.They increase vitamin C and vitamin A stability and can be found in hundreds of food products.
- Ascorbic acid – This substance helps retain the vitamins A and E as well as thiamin and folacin found in food.
- BHA and BHT – These preserving agents are used to keep as much of the vitamin A and D in its natural form as possible. One word of caution, however, is that some studies show this ingredient as one that is potentially carcinogenic.
- Nsin – This acts as an anti-bacterial agent to slow the spoilage process of meat, dairy, condiments, and other perishable foods.
- Vinegar, salt, and sugar – Although they might alter the nutritional content of food, they are among the safest preservatives to use for home food storage. Be careful to not add too much salt or sugar, though.
Food Additives to Avoid
Another class of preservatives is typically classified as additives. You are advised to avoid these substances as much as possible.
- Sulfites – They are supposed to stop browning and discoloration of food. However, if you’re sensitive to sulfites, it’s a good idea to avoid high-sulfite foods (like dried fruit) as these substances can cause allergic reactions or asthma.
- Sodium benzoate – Although this substance can stop acidification or fermenting of foods, it also turns into benzene when mixed with vitamin C. This can increase cancer risk.
- Nitrite – If you ever wondered why hot dogs, bologna, ham and other process foods are pink, nitrates/nitrite is the reason why. You are advised to consume as little of an amount of this ingredient as possible.
- BHA and BHT – This substance is listed in the “good” and “bad” preservatives categories. That is because it has some benefits including possibly treating herpes and AIDS. However, it also is said to increase cancer risk in some people.
These are not recommended for human consumption – at least not in large quantities.
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