Packaged foods are very frequently used by many of us due to our hectic schedule. Even though these products are convenient, there are a few health risks associated with them.
Foods are packed using special packaging techniques to store and maintain the foodstuffs in good condition when they are stored. Packaging of food refers to the processing of food for preserving it from contamination from germs and dust. Another important aim of packaging food is to decrease the food wastage. In developed countries, where packaged foods are used quite often, the amount of food wasted is around 3%. Whereas in the developing countries, the rate of food wastage is around 30%.
Processed foods easily available in the market. These products contain artificial sugar, additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Nowadays, when one visits a grocery shop, he spends on an average more than half the budget on buying packaged foods. The human body needs vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are responsible for good physical and mental health. Processed foods do not contain these essential nutrients and contain unhealthy preservatives.
Dangers of Food Additives and Preservatives
Food preservatives or additives are the ingredients in packaged foods that are used to preserve the food for a long time and thus, increasing their shelf-life. These additives include artificial sugar, sodium nitrate, trans-fats, BHA and BHT, synthetic food colors, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). The foods labeled as no sugar added, actually contain artificial sugar, which are empty calories. These have a low nutrition to calorie ratio and leads to increase in weight. Usually, soft drinks contain these artificial sugar additives, which are a major reason for the growing rate of obesity in people.
Sodium nitrate is added to packaged meat and is said to carcinogenic. The sodium nitrate gets converted to nitrosamines (which are carcinogenic) when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Trans-fats are mostly found in the snacks, biscuits, cakes, and crisps. They are saturated fats, which increase the rate of getting a heart attack.
BTA and BHA are two antioxidants that are added to avoid unwanted fermentation of food. Research is still going on to prove that BTA and BHA are carcinogenic, so it is advisable to avoid food with these additives. Monosodium glutamate is a food enhancer, which is used to improve the taste of the food. Frozen foods are preserved using monosodium glutamate.
Artificial coloring added in cereals, candy, and ice-cream, are carcinogenic and do not have any nutritional value. From allergies to autism, colored foods can be a cause of many diseases.
The dangers of packaged foods can be listed as follows:
- Body ache
- Allergies and rashes
- Swollen lymph nodes
Next time when you buy packaged foods, make it a point to check the ingredients and additives of the packaged food.