Thursday, March 15, 2018

Can't Pronounce It?

Can't Pronounce It?  Then Look It Up!

Know Your Food Preservatives
BLUF:  If you cannot pronounce an ingredient on a label, then look it up to determine if you want to put it in your body.

I really like to know what I am putting into my body if at all possible especially those weird sounding preservatives you find in your canned beans, jars of peanut butter, and your carton of orange juice. published an article claiming that “80 percent of US packaged foods may contain dangerous chemicals”.  After just a little bit of research, I believe this to be true. 

Think about it…when you are following a recipe to cook your dinner, how often do you see maltodextrin or yellow no. 5 as an ingredient?  Um you don’t!  Then why would you want to eat foods that have this added?  Um you don’t!

Preservatives are in just about everything you buy at the store, but why?  First of all, I am an advocate of eating whole foods.  Why not just eat an apple instead of store-bought apple sauce?  We are a society of convenience and often that little tub of applesauce is a person’s only source of fruit for the day, but at least know what is in it! 

According to, there are three different types of food additives: natural, chemical, and artificial and they are added to most foods to not only make the food last longer on the shelf but to make it look better and even enhance the flavor.  These added preservatives eliminate the growth of bacteria and mold along with trying to ensure the food doesn’t lose all of its nutritional value. 

Natural Preservatives

So let’s start with natural preservatives.  There are times when you might see an ingredient that you cannot pronounce but it is perfectly natural.  Keep in mind that natural food preserving has been around since almost the beginning of time (or something close to that). 

Salt was the most common back in the day along with sugar, vinegar, alcohol, and lemon or lime juice.  How many times have you squeezed a lime onto an avocado to keep it from turning brown?  That is a form of natural preservation.  It doesn’t make the avocado less healthy, but instead it preserves the color and also adds a little vitamin C while you are at it.  Whether you are pickling, smoking, canning or salting to preserve a food, you don’t have to worry as much since these are natural and you are in control of the process.

Chemical/Artificial Preservatives

Now on to chemical and artificial preservatives.  This is where it gets tricky.  They are not all bad for you, but you do need to know which ones are.  For instance, wine has sulfur dioxide (sulfites) added to protect against spoilage.  According to, sulfur dioxide is naturally occurring in the fermentation process, but distillers often add in additional sulfur dioxide to ensure a reliable final product.  This is a good example of chemical preservative use for some people, but not everyone.  People often get headaches or stomach aches after drinking wine.  This is usually due to the added sulfites. 

I group artificial preservatives in the chemical category.  Both can be extremely unhealthy for our bodies.  There are too many to start naming so I highly encourage you to do a search on anything you are unsure of on that ingredient list. 

Lessons Learned 

There is nothing wrong with standing in the grocery store with a box of noodle mix in your hand while looking up the ingredients on your phone!  Search it before you purchase!

Once again, I highly recommend eating whole foods and steering clear of those foods that processed as they will have some nasty preservatives added.  The health risks vary from person to person and ingredient to ingredient. provides a primer on some of the biggies to avoid. And remember to always read your labels, do your research and come to your own conclusions as to what you are willing to accept into your body. 


There are many, many, many sites out there to educate you on preservatives.  Please read them with caution.  If you come across something that doesn’t feel right then verify it on another site.  I actually came across a site that claims preservatives are good for you!  Yeah, I didn’t include them here.

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