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Here’s how eating artificial preservatives can affect your health

Here’s how eating artificial preservatives can affect your health
Health
That’s because they can “prevent spoilage, improve appearance and texture, and maintain the food’s nutritional quality,” said registered dietitian Novella Lui.

It’s not just fast food restaurants using artificial preservatives, either.

“They’re commonly found in processed foods we purchase at grocery stores,” said Stephanie Hnatiuk, another registered dietitian.

There are also natural preservatives — like salt, sugar, vinegar and citrus juice — but using them usually comes at a higher cost to the food manufacturer.

Artificial preservatives help “decrease the price of that food product for the consumer,” Hnatiuk said.

But alongside these benefits, there may be some health concerns that come along with artificial preservatives.

According to Lui, artificial preservatives are chemical substances that get added to food during the manufacturing process.

Some of the most popular are sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).

“Sodium benzoate is a preservative and microbial agent used in tomato products, pickles, sauces, fruits, fruit salads, jams, cider, salad dressing, and some meat and poultry products,” said Lui.

On labels, sorbic acid is sometimes called calcium sorbate or potassium sorbate.

“[It’s] a preservative used in jams, cold-processed smoked and salted fish paste, concentrate juice (except frozen concentrate juice), minced meat, marmalade with pectin, jam, syrup, pickles, relishes, smoked or salted dried fish, ketchup, tomato paste, tomato puree, margarine and salad dressing.”

BHA and BHT are preservatives with “antioxidant properties,” Lui explained.

“They help fats stay fresh longer by preventing the oils from becoming rancid.”

They’re used in fats and oils, potato chips, dried breakfast cereals, parboiled rice and chewing gum.

Some artificial preservatives, such as nitrites or nitrates used in processed meats, have been shown to be bad for our health, Hnatiuk said.

“Consuming these preservatives has been shown to increase our risk of colon cancer and should be limited in our diets,” she said.
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