Hidden Figures: The Truth About Food Additives
With the never ending mixed messages about foods: what’s ‘good’ for you, what’s ‘bad’, etc. Here’s one more thing to consider…food additives.
So, what are food additives exactly? The World Health Organization defines food additives as, substances that are added to food to maintain or improve the safety, freshness, taste, texture, or appearance of food.
Basically, if there was an antonym of farm-to-table, food additives would be it.
The unnatural nature of these additives has been part of this multifaceted perfect storm of events perpetuating our reliance upon, and addiction to, certain foods. Mainly, processed foods containing sugar and flour.
Now it’s time to get informed about what you can look out for when you’re reading the ingredient list of your favorite sauce!
Below is a list of the Seven Most Common Food Additives, as well as some helpful tidbits about each one!
1.) High-Fructose Corn Syrup
This widely sourced additive is a sweetener made from corn and is found in foods across the board! Why? Well, it’s a whole lot cheaper than sucrose (the sugar made from sugar cane). It acts as an additive found in most processed foods AND not just the sweet ones.
It has become controversial, as its been used as mechanism to achieve the “bliss point” and experts propose that people have been metabolizing high-fructose corn syrup such that it increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
2.) Artificial Food Coloring
These chemical dyes are used to color food and beverages, found typically in processed foods, drinks, and condiments. Research has supported the notion that artificial food coloring leads to increased hyperactivity in children, worsening of asthma symptoms, and cancer causing carcinogens.
Diet soda, crystal light, sweet n’ low…all contain aspartame which is an artificial sweetener, labeled under a variety of different brand names. Research has linked aspartame to causing cancer, seizures, headache, mood disturbances, and reduced mental performance.
4.) MSG (Monosodium glutamate)
This additive is used to enhance other flavors creating a more savory taste. People claim to have unfavorable reactions to MSG, reporting sensitivities to its addition in foods.
5.) Sodium Benzoate
A food additive which is used as a preservative in processed foods and beverages. Also, linked to increased hyperactivity in children.
6.) Sodium Nitrate
This additive is used for curing meat, found in sausage and canned meats. What makes it problematic? Historically, it has been linked to increased risk of gastric cancers.
7.) Trans Fat
Created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. Used typically for deep-frying foods as well as baked goods and have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes.
Let’s work to become INFORMED consumers about the food with which we choose to nurture ourselves. Next time you grab a snack or you add sauce to stir-fry, take a glance at the ingredients and note what you’re putting in your body. Aim for products that don’t contain these additives and that instead, incorporate naturally occurring ingredients.
When the facts don’t additive up, start investigating your foods!