Common Food Preservatives and their purpose
Chemistry is a branch of science dealing with the study of matter and change. It plays an essential role in our day-to-day life. It has influenced our lives so much that we do not even realise that we confront chemicals every wink. The food that we eat contains chemicals. Some chemicals are added to prevent food from contamination and are often referred to as food preservatives. Common salt, sodium benzoate, salts of propanoic acid, and sorbic acid are some examples of food preservatives.
Food preservatives are the chemicals added to food items to prevent them from contamination. Its main objective is to prevent microbial contamination, kill pathogens and minimise food spoilage. Food preservatives enhance the shelf life and lower the cost of food items. Benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium nitrate, salts of propanoic acid, and sorbic acid are some examples of food preservatives.
People used to cool, freeze, ferment, or sun-dry to prevent food contamination. Cooling or freezing can reduce the reaction rate, slowing microorganism growth. Sun-drying removes the water from the food items, reducing microorganism growth. Adding salt, sugar, and oil can reduce microorganism growth.
Antioxidants also may act as a food preservative as it delays the oxidation process, thereby preventing food from getting oxidised or contaminated.
Advantages of food preservatives
Food preservatives help in increasing the shelf life of food items. It helps in preventing the retardation and decomposition of food items. A few advantages of food preservatives are mentioned below.
- It helps in enhancing the nutritional value of the food.
- It helps in enhancing the shelf life of food items.
- It helps in improving the appearance of food items.
- It helps in increasing the availability of food items throughout the year.
Harmful effects of food preservatives
Food preservatives help inhibit the growth of microorganisms, but they often affect the health of human bodies.
- Potassium nitrate is used to prevent meat, but recent studies show it is carcinogenic and can affect us severely.
- Excessive use of sodium benzoate can lead to skin allergies or asthma.
An antioxidant is a substance that delays or inhibits the oxidation process. Antioxidants protect the cells from free radicals. Ascorbyl palmitate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are some examples of antioxidants used for delaying the oxidation process in food items.
Antioxidants are also used as a dietary supplement, as it helps in preventing cardiological disorder or cancer. It also helps in neutralising excess free radicals in the cell.
Goji berries, wild blueberries, dark chocolates, pecans, kidney beans, cranberries, blackberries, cilantro, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cocoa, cumin, parsley, basil, ginger, and thyme are the natural sources of antioxidants.
Advantages of antioxidants
Antioxidants reduce the oxidation rate, it helps in protecting cells from free radicals. A few advantages of antioxidants are mentioned below.
- In the body, it inhibits the chain reaction of free radicals.
- Antioxidants safeguard our brains and eyes and sustain healthy ageing.
- Antioxidant-rich diets prevent us from diabetes, cardiological disorder, and cancer.
- Antioxidants prevent us from oxidative stress.
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