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Reality about packaged food

Reality about packaged food
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Reality about packaged food

Highlights

Packaged foods are present in almost every household across the world

Packaged foods are present in almost every household across the world. They are not only convenient to use but also well marketed, so as to make us believe they are tasty and healthy. But are they really?

Apart from these foods being highly processed, the additives that they contain come with a whole set of problems.

A close look at their labels will show that they are full of them. Food additives are substances added to packaged food to make it look good and taste better, to improve its texture, to keep it stable and to increase its shelf life. They appear as numbers in the ingredients list, sometimes marked by initial letters 'E' or 'INS'.

Let us see why we need to look carefully at the labels of packaged foods.

Food additives consist mostly of chemicals

Additives can be natural or artificial. Since they are produced at a large scale, it is more profitable for the manufacturer to add the artificial ones. This means the additives are synthetic and full of chemicals.

Hormone disruptors

Chemicals are known to disrupt hormones, and additives have been strongly linked to male and female infertility and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)

Highly addictive

They are added to make the product look and taste better and hence, very addictive. Even natural additives like sugar, salt and oil (which are highly processed in and of themselves) are addictive.

Hyperactivity in children

Food colours are mostly by-products of coal tar. They are used in several foods like candies, sweets, soft drinks, cakes and ice creams and can be the cause of ADHD and hyperactivity in children.

Allergies and respiratory problems

Certain additives can give rise to allergic reactions like rhinitis, or more severe conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

Added sugars

There are at least 80-100 highly processed natural or artificial sweeteners which can be added to the foods, without them being labeled as sugars!

Carcinogenic

Most dangerously, additives have a strong link to cancers. TBHQ and BHT (antioxidants in refined cooking oil/fried food), saccharin (sweetener), nitrites/nitrates (preservatives in processed meat), food colourings and carrageenan (emulsifier) are just some of the additives that have been linked to cancers in studies.

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