Three Food Preservatives
You Want To Avoid And Why
Last week’s blog post showed you how to decipher the Nutrition Fact Table on packaged foods. (click here if you missed it). I thought I’d stay with the packaged food theme and talk to you this week about Three Food Preservatives You Want To Avoid that are commonly found in these foods.
Simply put, a preservative is a substance added to foods to make them last longer. Preservatives are found in all kinds of products in our grocery stores.
Preservatives work to preserve food in a few different ways. Some prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Others prevent delicate fats from going rancid.
There are so many preservatives out there. While preservatives added to foods should be “approved,” this doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be safe for everyone always. And it doesn’t mean that the food is healthy.
Foods with preservatives are more-processed, less-nutritious foods to begin with – not exactly health foods. So, even if you don’t mind preservatives, you probably should cut down on these kinds of foods. Opting for fresh, whole foods to make up the bulk of your diet will naturally lead you to healthier food choices.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Three Food Preservatives You Want To Avoid.
That’s right – salt.
FUN FACT: The term “salary” is from the Latin word for salt. It’s thought that it came from the ancient Romans who would pay employees, allowing them to buy salt. Either that, or it was for their work conquering and/or guarding salt mines/roads. Either way, salt was sought because of its ability to preserve food before the advent of refrigeration.
In today’s day and age, with fridges and freezers in every home and grocery store, and refrigerated trucks, salt is not needed for food preservation as much. But our taste buds still seem to crave it on an epic scale. The average American eats over 3,400 mg of sodium per day, well over the recommended 2,300 mg/day. Much of that is because it’s found in processed foods.
According to Harvard Health:
“… reducing dietary salt (table salt that is only sodium, chloride and iodine) will lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and save lives.”
So, salt is one of those all-too-common food preservatives that most of us will do better with less of.
Nitrites (nitrates and nitrosamines)
Nitrites are preservatives added to processed meats. They’re not bad in and of themselves, but they do turn into harmful chemicals called nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. Nitrites form nitrosamines when they’re cooked at high heat, and sometimes even when exposed to the high acid environment of the stomach.
Nitrites are added to meats to keep the pink-red color and prevent “browning.” Mostly in bacon, ham, sausages and lunch meats. Since nitrites can change into nitrosamines, nitrites are one-step away from being the “bad guys.”
Another interesting thing is that processed meats have been linked to colon cancer. Because of the nitrites? Perhaps, but either way, nitrosamines are a confirmed health-buster.
Since nitrosamines (from nitrites) are the bad guys and are formed by cooking nitrites at high heat, what are nitrates?
Nitrates are naturally found in many healthy foods like vegetables. They’re especially high in beets. Sometimes our enzymes or gut bacteria change these healthy nitrates into nitrites. However, they rarely form nitrosamines because they’re two steps away from becoming these “bad guys.”
BHA & BHT
Have you seen on packages “BHA/BHT has been added to the package to help maintain freshness?” Perhaps on cereal packages or in gum? These are a completely different type of preservatives.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are antioxidants added to many processed foods. BHA and BHT prevent fats from going rancid. Are they safe? Well, they’re approved for use as a preservative in small amounts. However, some studies show they can cause cancer in animals at high doses. Again, they’re added to processed pre-packaged foods, so you can easily avoid them by choosing fresh, whole foods.
There are a lot of preservatives in our food supply. These compounds work by preventing the growth of bacteria and mold, or by preventing fats from going rancid. And they’re mostly found in processed foods. These Three Food Preservatives You Want To Avoid are the most common. The only way to avoid them for certain is really simple. Eat fresh foods.
Preservative-Free Kale Chips
1 bunch of kale, washed and dried
1 tbsp olive oil
2 dashes salt
2 dashes garlic powder
Preheat oven to 300F and place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Take the washed and dried kale and rip them into “chip” size pieces and place in a large bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. Mix until the kale pieces are evenly covered.
Place kale onto prepared sheet in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes.
Flip over the kale to cook the other sides of the pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes until the edges just start turning brown. Monitor them well, or you’ll have burnt kale chips.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use any spice, so try onion powder, paprika, or even turmeric.
Click Here to view the recipe as PDF or to print/save a copy of this recipe.
As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I’ve taken more than twenty-five years of client work and personal life experience to create a proven system to help you live the vibrant healthy life you desire.
I want you to know…It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way.
- Clarify your vision for a healthier, thinner, and happier you!
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