Preservatives are natural or synthetic chemicals that are added to food to stop them spoiling.
Many synthetic chemicals can cause adverse health effects. All "additives", including preservatives are labelled on packaged food in the ingredients section. Often these preservatives are written as numbers. Knowing what these numbers are and which ones to stay away from can be helpful when doing your grocery shopping.
Many additives and preservatives have been linked to having adverse health impacts on the body such as behaviour and learning problems, hyperactivity, allergies, cancer, gastro - intestinal problems and kidney and liver enlargement to name a few.
Have a look at all the labels of the brands you buy and see if they contain additives or preservatives that you want to avoid. Next time you are at the grocery store allow a bit of extra time to read the labels and look for better alternatives.
There are heaps of resources online and through your local bookstore to educate yourself further on this. Below is a summary of the best and worst of the lot.
Try avoid colouring where possible, even if the packaging does say it is natural.
These 5 are natural and okay to consume: 101, 160A, 170, 171, 175
Try avoid the following, sorbate/ sorbic, benzoate, sulphite, sulphate, nitrate, nitrite, propionic/ propionate.
Sodium nitrate (250, 251), is commonly found in processed and cured meat.
These are the ones that are okay to consume: 234, 242, 243, 260, 262, 263, 270, 290, 296, 297
These are often used to preserve vegetable oils and margarines.
Avoid 310-312, 319 - 321, 338, 385 and gallates, TBHQ, BHA & BHT as these are often in processed kids food.
Flavour Enhancers (600s)
MSG is known by most to avoid. (621)
There are a lot of sneaky flavour enhancers or glutamates that are regularly used in replacement to MSG and some have the same adverse health effects as MSG.
Yeast extract , barley, malt extract and hydrolysed vegetable protein are a few other names to avoid.
These are often found in biscuits/crackers and breakfast cereals.
Avoid these numbers: 600, 621 - 625, 627, 631, 635
Artificial Sweetners (900s)
"No sugar added" can be very misleading on packaging as it often contains artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose etc
Avoid these numbers: 950, 951, 952, 954, 955, 961, 962
For natural sweeteners go for brown rice syrup, stevia or xylitol
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