Preservatives in food products serve a purpose. As the name suggests, they keep food from going bad before we consume it. They can also help maintain flavor in foods.
But, since their creation, we have learned more about how long-term use of preservatives can have negative health consequences.
Not all preservatives are bad, however. The key is distinguishing which ones are harmless and which preservatives to avoid.
The information below provides you with everything you need to know about food preservatives and how they can impact your health. Keep reading to find out more.
Types of Preservatives
There are many different methods and types of food preservatives. But you can categorize them into two main groups, to get a better understanding of how they impact the body.
Artificial or chemical preservatives, also called “additives,” are created in laboratories. They are often found in ketchup, bottled juices, spreads, jams, and other shelf products. Some common ones to look out for are:
Nitrates and nitrites
BHT and BHA
Often, the goal of these chemicals is to supplement a lack of naturally occurring preservatives in food. For example, benzoic acid is found in many fruits and vegetables. When enough isn’t present, sodium benzoate, a synthetic preservative, takes its place.
You should check food products that do not need refrigeration (and some that do) for artificial preservatives. They can cause serious health problems, especially when consumed on a regular basis.
There are natural methods for preserving food. These include freezing, curing, dehydrating, canning, and fermenting, and are all very safe.
Some of these methods make use of things like salt and oil. While these may not be great for your health, they don’t have the impact of artificial preservatives.
Also, some food products like sea salt and vegetables like spinach, beets, and celery will contain nitrates. These are safety to consume.
Note that there is a separate category of “natural” preservatives that have the same impact on the body as additives. Some deli meats contain preservatives, like cultured celery extract in place of sodium nitrate.
Food labels call these “naturally derived” nitrates. But they are created in a lab by combining bacterial cultures with the extract.
These additives are biochemically identical to artificial ones, and you should avoid them. You can read more on celery extract online to see what effects it can have on the body.
Health Problems Problems from Preservatives
There are myriad side effects of preservatives in the body. Some studies show that preservatives can weaken heart tissues and lead to cardiovascular disease.
Preservatives have also been linked to breathing problems. Sulfites, benzoates, and sulfites can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and other breathing issues.
Preservatives can have carcinogenic properties. Nitrates and nitrites, for instance, when mixed with gastric acids, can become cancer-causing agents.
Learn More About Preservatives in Food
Now that you have an idea of how preservatives work and which ones to look out for, you can have the confidence that you are buying foods that are good for you and your family. There are almost always healthy alternatives available. It is only a matter of seeking them out.
We hope you found this information on preservatives in food helpful. If so, be sure to take a look at some of our other posts on all-things food-related. We have tons of informative articles for all your needs.