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Guest Post by Loretta Jane
With the thrust in the media for organic options being considered the best choice for a health conscious public, it is easy to understand the general outcry over products on the grocer's shelves that contain a laundry list of impossible to pronounce chemicals and compounds. Once these components start being called a food additive, consumers begin to express a lot of distrust towards such additives as if there is automatically something nefarious about their use.
In some cases, the food industry has pushed some highly questionable food additives off on the general public. A toxic chemical known as hexane, used in the processing of nut oils, may not be the best additive to allow to slip past your gums. Other examples are artificial sweeteners that promote diabetes and who can forget the health dangers of consuming the additive red dye number 40? The public outcry over some of the toxic and health demoting food additives used by the food industry is justified in a lot of cases.
Of course, while it is easy to take a negative attitude towards any and all food additives, such an extreme disposition tends to lack objectivity. The simple reality is that many food additives prove to be quite beneficial and, in some cases, essential for ensuring the health and safety of consumers. This is perhaps the side of the story that the masses rarely get to hear.
From dough conditioners that help your morning biscuits turn out the perfect texture every time to the flavor enhancers that bring out the taste in your favorite prepackaged Chinese dinner, food manufacturing companies have long used a slew of common food additives to manipulate and transform ingredients into a plethora of new and exciting food products.
The science of using food additives is so vast, that it boggles the mind as to how these food manufacturers even thought up some of their formulas for obtaining a precise, consistent taste that can be associated with a national food brand.
Among the many common food additives used to enhance the consumers eating experience, there is one such additive that is worthy of mention as having certain health benefits. It is a seaweed extract called carrageenan. This seaweed extract is a great source of prebiotic fiber, a formidable antioxidant, an antiviral agent, helps to reduce cholesterol and could provide ulcerative protection to the walls of the intestines.
Since there are so many food additives, it would be difficult to provide a truly exhaustive list of their benefits in such a short space. However, we can easily understand that without such additives, the foods lining store shelves would never store well or keep fresh for any length of time. Rot and decay would rapidly spoil food products long before they even made it out of the warehouse. Some food additives also prevent bacteria and mold from forming on food to help keep the product safe for human consumption.
Since ancient times, adding substances to foods has been something of a common practice. People love to eat, they like certain textures to their foods and they love flavor. Herbs and spices are some of the oldest food additives for enhancing flavor: next to salt. The many health benefits of herbs and spices are still being discovered on a daily basis. So, food additives that taste good can also play key roles in curing serious health conditions.
When looking at the landscape of food additives objectively, it is easy to find countless additives that provide genuine benefits to consumers. While it is true that consumers should be aware of certain questionable food additives, it is equally true that a vast number of food additives improve the state of food and promote health. So, when reading food labels, it is important to research specific food additives to determine if they are friend or foe.