Food additives are chemical substances that are added to various food items to prevent them from getting spoilt due to the growth of microbes like bacteria and fungi. They enhance the visual appearance of food and also improve the texture by adding smoothness and volume.
Additives that are added during food preparation are called direct additives. Those that are added during packaging or storage are called indirect additives. While some of the additives are naturally available, others are synthetically made. Salt and sugar are the most common additives added to food items during their preparation.
There are different types of additives added to foods. Preservatives are added to beer, soft drinks, acidic food and margarine to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. Antioxidants prevent fatty foods from becoming rancid. Artificial coloring improve the visual appearance of food while synthetic flavors enhance the taste. Emulsifiers, thickeners and stabilizers increase the volume and smoothness of foods.
While food additives have a lot of advantages, they may cause harmful side-effects in the long run. For instance, coffee creamers contain artificial ingredients that are not very suitable for the body if consumed on a regular basis. Caramel destroys vitamin B6 and hence, can cause deficiencies if not consumed in moderation.
The other side-effects of consuming food items containing additives include weak immunity, digestive disorders, diarrhea, vomiting, mental disorders, headaches, heart diseases, high sugar and cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, multiple organ failures and obesity. Hence, it is better to avoid food items containing excessive salt, hydrogenated fats and synthetic additives.
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