Helpful and Harmful Additives


Omega3Most things you buy from the supermarket, besides produce, has additives. An additive is a substance that does not occur naturally in a food. Most additives found in food today are used as preservatives to prevent spoilage. Vitamins and minerals are also commonly added to foods to replace any nutrients that may have been lost during processing or to increase the nutritional value of the food. In many instances food manufacturers add vitamins and minerals to a food to increase its appeal and hopefully sales. Other common additives include sugar, salt and flavorings that are used to improve taste. Dyes are also added to foods to make them more visually appealing.

The Food and Drug administration has approved over 2,800 food additives for use by food manufacturers. Many of these additives are have helped to improve the overall quality of the foods on supermarket shelves. However, there are some people who worry about the safety of some of the additives used today. High fructose corn syrup, food coloring, monosodium glutamate, and nitrates are a few additives that some people are concerned about consuming.

The most common food additives are sugars and salt. These are used to enhance flavor and to prevent spoilage. Other additives such as calcium, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin E, beta carotene and antioxidants are used to prevent fats from becoming rancid and have been found to help protect against many diseases and cancers.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a very popular additive that can be found in many processed food products. If you check the ingredient list of some of your favorite processed foods like chips, canned soups, asian sauces, and cereals, you will likely find MSG listed. MSG is added to foods to for its ability to heighten the perception of certain tastes and minimize others. People who are allergic to MSG may experience headaches, allergic reactions, such as swelling, or a flare-up of Celiac disease.

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