You must have noticed “No added preservatives” written on most of the beverages which are stored or packed for consumables. But most of the beverages which are stored for longer duration for example tetra packs of fruit juices, chips, fries, etc have preservatives inside them to prevent them from getting spoiled. However these preservatives may increase the shelf life of the food product but it surely decreases your life or can surely have some adverse affect on your health. Let us know what are food preservatives and how do they affect your health.
What are Food Preservatives?
According to Nutritionist Ms. Sneha Gupta from City Hospital, Indore, food preservatives are substances which are added to the food items to help the food remain safe from bacteria growth. Most of the preservatives which are found in the food products have added chemical preservatives which contain sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate and propionate which are basically synthetic chemicals. These chemicals are quite dangerous to your health and can create many problems. Most of the junk food which is available in the market has added preservatives in them which are responsible for health problems. Also to add not all natural preservatives are beneficial for the body.
When the natural compositions of chemicals are not altered for putting it in food product, then it is called natural preservatives. Natural preservatives have anti-oxidants properties which help in keeping the food for longer duration cutting down the process of oxidisation and ageing. The natural preservatives which are used are salt and oil. If you know the process of making pickle, then you must be aware how salt and oil is used for preserving it and making the pickle.
Artificial or Chemical Preservatives
Most of the food which is stored for long time in containers and available in stores has been made a long while ago. But some preservatives are added to the food product to delay the contamination process. For example a fresh juice cannot be kept for long but the juice tetra packs available in the market have an expiry of 3-6 months. This is only possible due to addition of chemicals in the beverage which delays the oxidisation process of the food item and helps in preserving it. These chemicals are called additives.
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Side Effects of Food Preservatives-
- Major side effect of preservatives it that it can lead to breathing problems like asthma and bronchitis.
- It can cause hyperactive behaviour in kids and young children. They can have uneasiness and can be noticed in their activities.
- Excessive intake of chemical preservatives can weaken the heart tissues and can cause heart issues and problems which is extremely dangerous.
- Synthetic chemical preservatives can contain BHT and BHA which are cause cancer. BHT is used in cereals and fats whereas BHA is used in potatoes and other baked food products.
- Preservatives can also cause obesity which in turn is a cause of many other diseases too.
Which Are Harmful Chemical Preservatives?
Nitrates- Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite are most used preservatives which are added in the food to prevent oxidation. These nitrates may be involved in increasing the risk of cancer, brain tumour and leukemia. Young children may also be in risk of diabetes, diarrhoea and respiratory problems. By taking in large quantity of these preservatives, you may have sudden stomach pain, muscle weakness and blood stools. Nitrates are found in meat, hot dogs, smoked fish, etc.
Sulphite- Sulphite is added to preserve the colour of the food item. They are mostly added to dried fruit and wine. It can cause skin irritation, hives, hypotension, diarrhoea and asthmatic breathing after eating food with added sulphites to those who are sensitive towards sulphites.
Sodium Benzoate- To prevent bacterial growth in food items sodium benzoate is used. This may not be a dangerous additive for food but those are allergic or sensitive to benzoic acid may have similar issues to that of sulphites. These can include small risk of cancer, asthma, allergic reactions and leukemia. According to WHO, sodium benzoate can cause damage to heart, spleen, liver, kidneys and even brain due to excessive consumption.
Propyl Gallate- It is another antioxidant preservative which can cause the risk of cancer but it is rich in anti-oxidants which make it complex to understand. They are added to help prevention of oil and fat spillage.
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Food preservatives are both natural and artificial. Artificial chemical based food preservatives are harmful for the body and can cause many adverse health conditions. However many preservatives are not dangerous to the body but allergies to those chemical can posses’ great difficulties. Young children are at higher risk of health problems due to chemical food preservatives.
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