The practice of preserving food items has been prevalent for many millennia. Food has been stored in clay jars, and subjected to drying, to avoid accumulation of bacteria and fungi, as moisture is required for these microorganisms to grow. Some of the traditionally known preservatives include sugar and salt.
There are two types of food preservatives, natural and artificial. Natural preservatives, such as oil and salt, do not alter the chemical composition of the food, and are full of antioxidants, helping delay the process of oxidation or ageing. However, artificial preservatives, such as BHA (Butylated hydroxytoluene), could alter the chemical makeup of the food, and lead to health issues. These preservatives are known as additives and could be a trigger for asthma and obesity. Preservatives are used in all varieties of foods, from fruits, packaged kidney beans, to chicken.
Therefore, to lead healthier lives, active steps need to be taken to cut out preservatives from our diet.
As per research by the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, while preservatives prolong the shelf-life of food, by preventing their spoilage, their regular consumption can cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage, and weight gain.
Preservatives can cause you to intake high sodium foods and saturated fats, which will increase your LDL cholesterol (bad) levels. By eliminating processed foods from the diet, you will prevent inflammation, reduce the risk of heart ailments, manage weight, and reduce the amount of toxins in your body.
Review the labelling of the food item
Ensure to read the labels carefully, when buying food items, so that you can avoid foods or food products with preservatives. The ingredients list on the packaging will help you identify the preservatives and their intended purpose. For example, sulfur dioxide may be used to prevent rotting, while salt is added to increase shelf life and for taste. This will help you distinguish between natural preservatives and additives, and make informed choices.
As per a research published by Mayo Clinic, shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is a great way to avoid buying products and produce with preservatives. This happens because most shops place their whole foods, fruits and vegetables, in a single line, across the perimeter of the store, and stack unprocessed foods in the aisles. Also, make smart choices such as fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables, raw dry fruits, seeds, unflavoured dairy, and minimally processed or uncooked meats. This includes your responsibility to avoid canned foods, frozen meals, condiments, sauces, sweetened beverages, chips, and sliced bread.
Cook your meals
The best way to avoid preservatives is to cook your own meals. This allows you control over what ingredients you are consuming, calories count, and use of sugar, fat, salt and additives. Start by making small incremental changes in your diet, by reducing or eliminating the use of dressings, frozen meat, and preserved fruits and vegetables. The next step would involve incorporating fresh fruits, vegetables, and raw meat, to season and cook meals from scratch. Ingredients such as peppermint, chillies, and tomato, could also be used to make condiments at home.
So ladies, be on the lookout for preservatives in your diet, and aim to cut them off, to lead healthier and fitter lives!
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