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Week 3 - Part 2 - What Are Preservatives?

Preservatives are added to foods to extend the shelf life of products. 

Generally they are added to pretty much everything that isn't fresh.  This includes things like processed meats, tinned products, canned vegetables, fruit juices and dried fruits.

However, not all preservatives are necessarily bad for you.  There are two main types of food preservatives - natural or chemical preservatives.

Natural Preservatives

Natural preservatives have been around for hundreds of years - think things like salt, sugar and vinegar etc. Whilst these are not perfect for our bodies, they are a whole lot better than unnatural chemicals that today's food is laced with (in our opinion anyway).

Chemical Preservatives

It’s the chemical preservatives that have found their way into modern eating that is of the main concern to us, and this is what we want to focus on in the next couple of weeks.

The Different Types Of Preservation

There are two main types of chemical preservation - Antimicrobial and Antioxidants.

Antimicrobial preservatives prevent the growth of bacteria. The most commonly used antimicrobial preservative is lactic acid as well as nitrates and nitrites (which we cover next week).

Antioxidants prevent or inhibit the oxidation process. The oxidation process spoils food, especially those with a high fat content. Fats can quickly turn rancid when exposed to oxygen. The most common antioxidant preservative is ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Over the next two weeks we will cover a range of different preservatives that we consider have the most serious side effects from consumption of these chemicals.

Ready to hear about Sodium Benzoates?

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