Have you ever wondered how you get summer fruits like mangoes, watermelons, etc. much before the season arrives? It is because they are ripened artificially against the natural phenomenon. This process not only affects their nutritional values but also exposes the consumer to some harmful chemicals that trigger various diseases.
Nutritionists advise eating fresh fruits daily to draw essential vitamins & minerals from them. However, the health benefits do depend on the way these are grown or ripened. Naturally matured fruits and vegetables contain maximum nutrients to promote well-being. However, due to increasing demand, the practice of artificial ripening is on the rise which is alarming. This puts our health to risk with irreversible issues.
What Is Artificial Ripening?
To begin with, artificial ripening is the process where fruits and vegetables are matured using ripening agents. These make them ripe quickly along with enhancing their color, texture and flavor. Amongst the foods that are ripened artificially, mangoes, papaya, banana, tomatoes and dates are most common. These make them look attractive and palatable which is why people buy them without a second thought. However, this is an unsafe practice. Read on to know why.
Fruit ripening agents
Ethylene gas is the natural ripening agent which makes a fruit or vegetable ripen naturally. Artificial ripening focuses only on cosmetic appearance and not on the taste. When these fruits & veggies are picked in their unripe condition, they are injected with ethylene gas to begin the ripening process.
Calcium carbide is a chemical which is extensively used as a ripening agent. It is referred to as ‘Masala’ in the artificial ripening business. It produces acetylene gas whose effects are similar to that of ethylene gas. These are unsaturated hydrocarbons that give the fruit a ripened look. But it does hamper the natural taste.
Talking about the health part, acetylene gas released by calcium carbide contains traces of phosphorous hydride and arsenic which are hazardous for human health.
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Possible Health Complications
The chemical impurities poison the body which then shows the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation in the stomach
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Irritation in eyes
- Skin ulcer
- Upset stomach
Calcium carbide is carcinogenic in nature which makes it highly destructive for health. It also affects the neurological system by triggering prolonged hypoxia. It is the condition that inhibits the oxygen to reach the blood and tissues. This causes:
- Memory loss
- Swelling in the brain
- Mood swings
Precautions To Take
It is very important to keep yourself safe from these artificially ripened fruits and veggies. Here are some helpful tips:
- Buy from trusted vendors who sell only organic products. Organic foods generally cost higher then chemically-treated foods.
- Don’t buy fruits and vegetables on the basis of their outer appearance.
- It is advised to peel fruits before consumption.
- Wash them properly before eating.
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