8 Common food additives to avoid
Have you ever taken a look at the ingredients label of any packed or processed food in your kitchen?
If yes, I am pretty sure, there is a good chance you will spot a food additive!
What do a take away pizza, a can of coke, a reusable plastic bottle, different sauces or inflatable pool have in common?
Yes, they all contain food additives or chemicals dangerous for health
Food additives are being used since centuries to improve and preserve the taste, texture, appearance, shelf life and nutritional composition of foods.
The levels of food contamination have reached to an all-new level.
Below mentioned are the most commonly used food additives
1. MSG /Ajinomoto/ Monosodium Glutamate
This food additive is found in Chinese foods, salty snacks, canned foods or ready to cook/frozen dinners.
According to studies by J W Olney. Science, 1969, use of MSG is linked to impaired growth development, weight gain, weak bones or neurological effects.
Some people might also experience headaches, sweating and numbness.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
Common ones include Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose and acesulfame Potassium.
Artificial sweeteners are added to many foods and beverages to reduce calorie content and add sweetness too!
Certain ones like aspartame may cause headache. Studies are going on to find the relation between artificial sweeteners and Cancer too.
3. Sodium Nitrite
This additive is commonly found in processed meats to prevent the growth of bacteria and maintain its reddish-pink colour and salty flavour.
According to studies by Paula Jakszyn et al, world gastroenterol, 2006, higher intake of nitrites and nitrosamine is linked with stomach cancer.
4. Artificial food colours
Artificial food colours are found in almost everything, from candles to condiments!!
They are used to brighten the colour, thus improving its appearance. According to studies by David W Schab et al, J Dev Behavoiural paediatrics, Dec 2004, these artificial colours can promote hyperactivity in children.
Some studies show high risk of thyroid tumours and cancer-causing effects.
5. High fructose corn syrup
Typically made of corn, this is frequently found in tetra pack juices, candies, soda, snacks or even breakfast cereals.
When consumed in high amounts, it is linked to weight gain and diabetes. Also, high fructose corn syrup contributes empty calories and added sugar to foods, thus compromising on healthy vitamins and minerals that your body needs
Hence, prefer to skip these sugary snacks and opt for whole unprocessed foods and if required, sweeten them with stevia, fresh fruits, dates or a drizzle of honey.
6. Trans Fat
Trans fats are fats which undergo process like hydrogenation to increase shell life of food.
Usually they are found in butter, bakery products, margarine, ready to cook popcorn or cookies.
Studies by C M Oomen et al. Lancet, 2001 have proved a link between higher intake of trans fats and heart disease.
However, you can reduce the consumption of trans fats by reducing consumption of processed food, Junk foods and margarine.
7. Yeast Extract
It found in cheese, soy sauce or salty namkeens to add a salty flavour.
It is made by mixing sugar and yeast in warm environment. Excess consumption is linked to higher salt intake and Blood Pressure.
8. Harmful preservatives
All preservatives are considered to be additives. But not all additives are considered to be preservatives.
Preservatives can be natural like sugar, salt or oil OR artificial ones found in jams, jellies, ketchup, packed food and bakery foods.
Using lots of preservatives are linked to
- Heart diseases (It weakens heart tissues)
- Breathing issues and asthma
- Cancer (By transforming into carcinogens)
Food additives are a toxic mix for kids!
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) explains the effect of food additives in interfering with hormones, growth and development in children, allergy, decreased immunity and increased chances of childhood obesity.
Children are particularly more prone to the side effects due to their size and dietary intake.
To sum up!
Many food additives are linked to pretty scary side effects. It is advisable to read the food labels behind every packed and processed food to be aware of what is actually going inside your body.
Always aim at eating fresh and unprocessed foods to minimise the side effects.
Wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly with plain water. Also make sure you use only glassware, stainless steel and iron utensils for cooking and eating purpose!! Avoid use of plastics.
Not to forget, you are going to get more nutrient bang from your buck to eat less refined foods when possible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids .
She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.