As we become more health conscious, we learn how to look at the food we eat in new ways. In the past consumers easily tossed items into their grocery carts without so much as a glance. But now we have made it a habit to consider healthier options, read food labels and learn what ingredients we should stay away from and which ones we should embrace. Food additives are another factor you should become more knowledgeable about so that you can keep you and your family safe and healthy.
Surprisingly, food additives have been around for many centuries. Widely used even today, food additives are substances that manufacturers add to certain food items in order to improve the taste, appearance and/or flavor. Many of the foods we eat contain such additives and while it may be great for allowing you to enjoy your favorite meal, consuming too much of the wrong kinds can be bad for your health.
If you enjoy bread and similar products, you’ll want to make sure the food item you purchase does not contain potassium bromate. This food additive has been shown to cause cancer in animals and in small amounts it can be harmful to humans. However, because it is still legal for use, you can still find it in many breads and rolls. Potassium bromate is used to add more volume to bread products. While health codes for foods vary from state to state, in California products containing potassium bromate must say so on the product label.
Fans of potato chips will want to be wary of consuming food items that contain olestra. This food additive is a synthetic fat that can actually prevent the body from absorbing fat into the digestive system. As a result, you can suffer from gas, severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Olestra not only prevents fat from being absorbed into the body but also vitamins, mainly the kinds that are fat-soluble. Excessive consumption of products containing olestra can keep your body from absorbing the essential vitamins and nutrients found in fruits and veggies, which can be harmful for your health in the long term.
Meat eaters will want to be on the lookout for sodium nitrite, which is added to a number of meat products, such as luncheon meats, bacon, hot dogs, corned beef, ham and even smoked fish. Sodium nitrite is used to preserve color and flavor by preventing bacteria from growing on the meat. This may sound like a good thing but medical studies have shown that the presence of sodium nitrite has been linked to different types of cancer. When certain meat products containing sodium nitrite are cooked using methods such as grilling, the studies showed that the food additive becomes a reactive compound that can promote cancer cells.
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