Eating healthy is all about knowing what to eat and what not to eat. Additives have been used in food since ancient times. They can be natural or synthetic, and have been used for a variety of purposes such as thickening agents, in food preservation, and to flavor foods. Here are 3 helpful tips that will help you become more informed about additives in your food:
Food additives are used for a variety of purposes. They can be used to enrich or add nutrition to food, add flavor to food, or preserve food. Food additives can be created in a laboratory or they can be all natural. They can be used in foods containing meat, dairy, or vegan foods. People concerned about the long term effects of additives on their health should take a good look at the nutrition labels on the foods they purchase and research the ingredients that are used within it.
Additives such as vitamins and minerals are found in nature and safe to consume. They are added to food products in order to enrich them or increase their nutrient content within a food. Common examples of this are folate, vitamin C and vitamin D. All three of these nutrients are important for the proper functioning of the body but are not consumed in high enough quantities especially by children and pregnant women. To combat this problem, they are added to food products that are commonly bought from the supermarket and eaten. Folate used to enrich bread is a good example.
Natural additives such as carrageenan are used to thicken products and stabilize food that is made with meat and dairy. It is a complex polysaccharide that curls to form molecules that have a helical structure. It is found in red seaweed and is not harmful to the body. They have the ability to make strong bonds with proteins. It is used by vegans instead of gelatin.
Food Products use sodium nitrate (nitrates) to preserve food through curing fish and meat. Curing involves dehydration of fish and meat with the use of salt and sugar. Sodium nitrate is a salt and a mineral that occur in nature. Nitrates preserve food through a process called osmosis. Osmosis draws moisture out of the cells of the food you are preserving. It also removes water from any bacteria remaining in the food and killing them.
When sodium nitrate is due as a curing agent, it is converted to a chemical compound known as sodium nitrite. Nitrites have been linked to esophageal and gastric cancer. Nitrites combine with amines in the presence of an acidic environment such as hydrochloric acid within the stomach to produce nitrosamines. Most nitrosamines are toxic and carcinogenic. They are also found in fertilizers and pesticides whose residues are sometimes seen on the surface of fruits and vegetables. This is why it is important to rinse off fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
Most people find that fresh herbs are flavorful, all natural additives. Home grown herbs such as basil, dill, cilantro, oregano and mint have more flavor and taste better when they are fresh. They can easily be grown in containers indoors and only require a good potting soil, water, a container and a sunny area to grow. You can also dry these herbs yourself with a dehydrator for long term storage. By using fresh or dry herbs, you can cut down the amount of salt and sugar you use in the recipes you make at home.
Additives can be good or harmful to your health. Knowing which additives you can use in food preparation is key to making responsible decisions that affect your health. It will also help you to live a longer healthier life.