We know preservatives help keep our food from going bad so we get to enjoy them for longer.
But like everything else, they should be eaten in moderation. Here are 5 of the most common preservatives you should watch out for.
Commonly found in: Carbonated drinks, salad dressings, vinegar, wine, and pickles
Why you should look out for it: While sodium benzoate is a naturally occurring but low-level chemical found in fruits like berries, apples, and plums, it’s when it’s synthesised that it can get worrying.
Researchers in the US have found that sodium benzoate, when added with ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C), can produce benzene, a carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer).
However, it would take a billion litres of soda before you really feel the effects of this carcinogen.
NEXT: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) →
Commonly found in: Dipping sauces, salad dressings, seasoned deli meats, seasoned chips
Why you should look out for it: While MSG gives food that umami flavour that makes it so addictive, the chemical is said to be linked to asthmatic problems, migraines, and headaches.
Indulging in an occasional cup noodle or bag of chips is fine, but do so in moderation.
NEXT: Carrageenan →
Commonly found in: Almond milk and other milk products
Why you should look out for it: Despite how Carrageenan is actually derived – naturally from seaweed – researchers have found that it can sometimes cause inflammation in your digestive system. This means that ulcers and other forms of sores may start to form.
NEXT: Guar Gum →
Commonly found in: Baked goods
Why you should look out for it: Guar gum is often used as a thickening agent in foods but eating high amounts of it can caus diarrhea or loose stools. Should you ever consume a lot of it, it’s especially important to drink plenty of water because guar gum can also cause blockage in the intestines.
NEXT: Sulfites →
Commonly found in: Alcoholic beverages, condiments, snack foods
Why you should look out for it: Sulfites aren’t exactly a harmful compound, but there are people who are known to be more sensitive to it than others. Those who are more sensitive tend to develop asthma-like symptoms and find it difficult to breathe.
NEXT: Sodium Benzoate →
By Atika Lim, The Singapore Women’s Weekly, July 2017
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