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Packed foods unhealthy due to additives meant for preservation

Most of the food we buy from the market or supermarket including bread is flavoured, coloured and has preservatives. Without preservatives the food will spoil within a very short time.

These additives are not very good for our health as some can trigger allergic reactions and are potentially carcinogenic. Some of the substances added to food are synthetic chemicals.

Mary Nyambane, a nutrition expert based in Nakuru, gives an example of Britain where some 3,750 substances may be legally added to food. Of these fewer than ten per cent are synthetic. Synthetic additives represent less than 0.5 per cent of all the food eaten.

Nyambane says experts place additives low down on the list of food hazards.

Some additives have dual functions; vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is used to prevent tinned fruit juice from turning brown, as well as to improve the baking quality of wheat, while citric acid is used as a flavouring agent and as an acidic regulator.

Traditional preservatives, such as wood smoking, salt and vinegar have been used frequently over time because of their long history of safe use. Dry fish sold in Nairobi and other major markets in the country is preserved through sun-drying or smoking.

While preservatives are important, they reduce or kill nutrients in the foods.

Always strive to eat fresh food and fruits rather than preserved ones, says Nyambane, cautioning that your fridge should not store food for too long.

Photo: Courtesy


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