Nasty or Natural? Get To Know Your Additives Pt 1
By Doralise Halepis, Nutrition Student
Rarely do we find a packaged item that doesn’t require additional ingredients to stay fresh. Whether a product be tinned, packaged or vacuum sealed, good packaging alone isn’t always enough to stop our food from going bad. Of course we would never encourage you to consume foods with preservatives and additives, but with the busy lives we lead, eating packaged food on occasion is often inevitable. Eating foods with ridiculous amounts of numbers and unpronounceable ingredients isn’t going to do anyone any favours, so next time the packaged food aisles of the supermarket can’t be evaded, why not skim over the ingredients and choose a product with the following, more natural preservatives instead.
In part 1, we're taking a look at natural preservatives:
The most over-consumed mineral in the world, salt has assisted the food manufacturing industry receive its billion dollar status that it holds today. Salt is used to draw moisture away from food; the less moisture, the less bacteria that will accumulate. Although salt is a natural mineral, like anything else, consuming excessive amounts won’t do your health any favours. So next time you open a tin of tuna or pull that delicious piece of cheese out of its container, do drain the brine well! When purchasing products from the supermarket, take an extra moment to compare the sodium content on the nutrition information panel, who knows what other surprises you may discover in the process!
Vitamin E (tocopherols)
A common antioxidant, vitamin E assists in the prevention of oxygen coming in contact with the food, known to cause rancidity. Commonly found in oils and moisturising soaps (hemp, olive, coconut etc), it may also give your food an additional boost of nutrients!
Whether it be in jar form or at your local deli, you will find that the majority of Mediterranean vegetables (olives, sundried tomatoes, eggplant) are swimming in oil. The oil prevents food poisoning bacteria from affecting the preserved food. Although oil is the most natural preservation liquid in use, often alone it is insufficient to keep foods from spoiling for a long period of time. Combined with oils are often other artificial preservatives so it is always best to read the label or ask at the counter for a list of ingredients prior to purchase.
Rosemary contains two components, rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. These acids slow down the oxidation process in fats and oils, particularly great for meats and deli items. When purchasing additive-free/organic meats, store in the fridge with a little rosemary oil/rosemary to keep it at its best for a little while longer.
This acidic product is used to store ingredients such as cucumbers, peppers and olives, a process commonly known as pickling. Although the use of vinegar is relatively harmless as a preservative, many of these products also contain high amounts of sugar and salt to aid in preservation and flavour. Always compare your nutritional information panel to choose the best variety!