Have you ever wondered what makes processed foods stay fresh on the shelves for long? Or why home baked bread tastes a tad different from the one you pick up from the store? Let’s face it, as much as most of us want to adopt healthy eating habits, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all processed foods from our diet, especially given the busy lifestyles today.
When most people read the ingredients listed on the packaging of the food we buy, they wonder, what is this for? Will it cause any harm to my body? Well, processed foods do have a number of ingredients and, while some can be really bad for the human health, others are not so much. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Dextrose is a simple sugar, which means that the body is able to use it for a quick energy boost. It’s produced from corn, and it’s chemically equal to blood sugar or glucose. Very often, it’s added to baked food items as a sweetener, like for example corn syrup.
People suffering from dehydration or low blood sugar are advised to take dextrose. Also, bodybuilders sometimes use it, as a nutritional supplement to help them increase muscle and weight.
2. Sodium Phosphate
Sodium phosphate is an additive commonly found in different types of meat. It helps in keeping the meat moist, and it has properties that emulsify and texturize it. When it’s added in canned tuna, it helps prevent the formation of crystals.
In large amounts, sodium phosphate can be hazardous to the human health. But, since it’s only found in small amounts in foods, it’s considered safe for a healthy person. If you suffer from a kidney disease though, it’s advisable that you keep off foods containing this substance. Otherwise, when taken in high amounts, over a longer period of time, it can damage your blood vessels.
3. Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrite is a preservative added to a variety of foods, to help fight bacteria growth. Under specific conditions, it could cause damage to the body cells, and it’s been known to morph into cancer-causing molecules. The truth is you can’t possibly eliminate it from your diet entirely, because about 80% of it comes from vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, radishes. A small percentage of it is even found in your swallowed saliva. It can only be poisonous if ingested in large amounts. The combination of bacteria in your gut can determine if the nitrite you consume will be good or harmful to your body.
4. Dimethyl Dicarbonate
This is a chemical used to preserve our beverages. It has the ability to prevent the growth of certain enzymes, which is how it keeps beverages fresh for a long time. You will find it in sodas, sports drinks, and even iced teas. It’s used alongside sulfur dioxide, in the preservation of wine.
5. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
BHA is an additive found in a variety of foods, including potato chips and chewing gum. The National Institute of Health, however, proposes that it could be a human carcinogen. This means it could act as a cancer causing agent. Research indicates that it might have the ability to harm the genome and upset metabolic processes.