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Packages foods might be doing more harm than good

Your jar of jam or carton of juice may be convenient, but it's more of a chemical cocktail than a source of nutrition, writes Shikha Sharma

brunch Updated: Aug 30, 2014 20:23 IST
Hindustan Times
packaged food,healthy food,fast food

Packaged foods sound almost heaven sent. They last longer, are easier to cook with and are just so convenient. But here’s the ugly truth: they’re nothing but cheap chemical substitutes that can do you more harm than good. Here’s how:

Natural flavours are delicious, but they break down rapidly and can’t stay stable in packaged foods intended for a long shelf life. So food companies buy cheaper chemical flavours as substitutes. ice cream, for instance, doesn’t even contain the fruit, just the flavour. These chemicals can cause allergies, nerve disorders and even liver damage if consumed over long periods of time.

The rich red in your ketchup and the lovely green hue of the spinach in some kinds of pasta are also not real. Natural colours fade as they age. So most packaged foods have added colour to mimic freshness. These additives are usually based on sulphites – chemicals created in labs, which can harm us.

Jams and jellies keep their viscous consistency thanks to a chemical called sodium benzoate. The smooth textures of juice, flavoured milk and smoothies are also created artificially, using chemicals.
Remember when you saw your half-drunk smoothie separate into different layers? That’s your clue. To keep the texture looking fresh, a compound called xanthan gum is added.

Dextran is another compound used in juices, which ensures that the juice remains viscous and does not separate into fibre and watery liquid.

(To be continued)

From HT Brunch, August 31
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First Published: Aug 30, 2014 20:23 IST