Foods can be evaluated in many different ways. The answer will vary depending on whether you are asking a nutritionist, an environmentalist, or a cardiologist. Food scientists who are experts in creating foods that taste better and last longer have strong opinions, too.
As the food industry developed food to be shelf stable, we began adding ingredients that are stable, cheap, and help preserve the food, said Tiffany Swan, a food scientist. This means that trans fats and dough extenders have found their way into the foods we eat.
Understanding the food label and its ingredients can help consumers make better choices. Swan says that as a consumer, it’s important to be aware of ingredients not found in your home pantry.
Here are some of the ingredients food scientists have told HuffPost that they avoid.
Artificial dyes can enhance the color and appeal of food items. The Food and Drug Administration has approved artificial colors and shades for a variety of foods, including beverages, baked products, candy, cereals, and desserts.
Jessica Gavin is a certified food scientist as well as a culinary scientist. She avoids all artificial dyes such as FD&C Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6. She said that they add a vibrant yellow or orange-yellow color to cereals, chips, sauces, and popcorn. As a parent, my goal is to minimize the risk of the food that my children consume.
Gavin said that there have been some studies linking artificial yellow dyes to ADHD and hyperactivity among children, but she added that this link “hasn’t been proven.”
warns that “it is possible but rare to experience an allergic reaction to a color additive.” FD&C yellow No. “FD&C Yellow No.
The food industry may also be paying attention. “Recently, I’ve been asked to avoid artificial flavors and colors, as well as preservatives, [in the food I consult on],” said Brian Chan, an expert in food science. According to requests, I’ve avoided these ingredients. The general trend is using natural flavors, colors, and other processing methods to extend shelf-life without preservatives.
Cultured Celery Extract
Food scientist Jennifer Pallian said that the term “cultured celery extraction” may seem innocuous given today’s consumer preference for natural ingredients over synthetic ones. It is just nitrates that have been rebranded.
What is this extract? Pallian explained that “Cultured Celery Extract is made by fermenting celery, and then concentrating it to produce a substance rich in nitrates.” As preservatives, synthetic forms of nitrites and nitrates are used in products like hot dogs and sausages.
Nitrates are found in vegetables like leafy greens. They also occur naturally as nitrites. These nutrients are good for your digestive system. The nitrates in vegetables can be broken down in two ways. Nitric oxide is beneficial to our health. Nitrosamines can be harmful.
Pallian explained that the issue occurs when these nitrates interact with amines within the body, whether they are naturally occurring, such as celery extract cultured, or synthetic, like sodium nitrate. This interaction can lead to the formation of nitrosamines. These compounds have been shown to be potentially cancerous.
Pallian said that educating yourself about these rebranded ingredients can help you make better choices when it comes to your diet.