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Condiments are very common in Malaysia and we love to explore different taste and food! All kinds of pastes / sauces / chili pastes / ready made pastes are used in our food. So yummy and delicious! BUT!! Have you ever wondered what’s in them? (next time please turn the packaging around and look for the ingredients my dear)
Common Food Addictive Found in Condiment

1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a common food additive used to intensify and enhance the flavor of savory dishes. It’s found in a variety of processed foods (including snacks, frozen food, ready made pastes, soup cubes…). MSG consumption has been associated with weight gain and metabolic syndrome in some observational studies. That being said, some people do have a sensitivity to MSG and may experience symptoms like headaches, sweating and numbness after eating a large amount.

2. Artificial Food Coloring
Artificial food coloring is used to brighten and improve the appearance of everything from candies to condiments. In recent years, though, there have been many concerns about potential health effects. Specific food dyes like Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have been associated with allergic reactions in some people. Additionally, one review reported that artificial food coloring may promote hyperactivity in children, although another study showed that some children may be more sensitive than others. Concerns have also been raised about the potential cancer-causing effects of certain food dyes. Red 3, also known as erythrosine, has been shown to increase the risk of thyroid tumors causing it to be replaced by Red 40 in most foods. Regardless, food dyes are found primarily in processed foods, which should be limited in a healthy diet. Always opt for whole foods, which are higher in important nutrients and naturally free of artificial food coloring.

3. Guar Gum
Guar gum is a long-chain carbohydrate used to thicken and bind foods. It’s widely used in the food industry and can be found in ice cream, salad dressings, sauces and soups. Guar gum is high in fiber and has been associated with a multitude of health benefits. For example, one study showed that it reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating and constipation. A review of three studies also found that people who took guar gum along with a meal had increased feelings of fullness and ate fewer calories from snacking throughout the day. However, high amounts of guar gum may have adverse effects on health. This is because it can swell 10 to 20 times its size, potentially causing issues like obstruction of the esophagus or small intestine. Guar gum may also cause mild symptoms like gas, bloating or cramps in some people. Additionally, the FDA has set strict guidelines on how much guar gum can be added to foods to minimize the risk of negative side effects.

4. Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is a preservative often added to carbonated drinks and acidic foods like salad dressings, pickles, fruit juices and condiments. It has been generally recognized as safe by the FDA, but several studies have uncovered potential side effects that should be considered. For example, one study found that combining sodium benzoate with artificial food coloring increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old children. When combined with vitamin C, sodium benzoate can also be converted into a benzene, a compound that may be associated with cancer development. One study analyzing the concentration of benzene in a variety of foods found Cole Slaw samples is over 20 times the maximum contaminant level set by the EPA for drinking water. To minimize your intake of sodium benzoate, check the labels of your food carefully. Avoid foods that contain ingredients like benzoic acid, benzene or benzoate, especially if combined with a source of vitamin C such as citric acid or ascorbic acid.

5. Artificial Flavoring
Artificial flavors are chemicals designed to mimic the taste of other ingredients. They can be used to imitate a variety of different flavors, from popcorn and caramel to fruit and beyond. Studies have found that these synthetic flavors could have some concerning effects on health. One study found that the red blood cell production was significantly reduced after they were fed artificial flavorings for seven days. Not only that, certain flavors like chocolate, biscuit and strawberry were also found to have a toxic effect on their bone marrow cells. Similarly, another study showed that grape, plum and orange synthetic flavorings inhibited cell division and were toxic to bone marrow cells in mice. However, keep in mind that these studies used a much more concentrated dose than you might find in food, and further research is needed to determine how artificial flavoring in the amounts found in foods may affect humans. In the meantime, if want to limit intake of artificial flavoring, check the ingredients label of the foods. Look for “chocolate” or “cocoa” on the ingredients label rather than “chocolate flavoring” or “artificial flavoring.”

6. Yeast Extract
Yeast extract, also called autolyzed yeast extract or hydrolyzed yeast extract, is added to certain savory foods like cheese, soy sauce and salty snacks to boost the flavor. It’s made by combining sugar and yeast in a warm environment, then spinning it in a centrifuge and discarding the cell walls of the yeast. Yeast extract contains glutamate, which is a type of naturally occurring amino acid found in many foods. Much like monosodium glutamate (MSG), eating foods with glutamate may cause mild symptoms like headaches, numbness and swelling in people who are sensitive to its effects. Additionally, yeast extract is relatively high in sodium, with about 400 milligrams in each teaspoon (8 grams). If you do experience negative effects, consider limiting your intake of processed foods with yeast extract and adding more fresh, whole foods to your diet.
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