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May/June 2013
foods, we must understand
food labels and ingredients
to be able to make educated
choices and ensure the food
we are eating is not having a
detrimental impact on our
health,” says Picken.
There are five main functions
of food additives; “These
found in beverages, cereals,
and processed foods. “It
functions as a sweetener but
has possible side effects that
include a link to obesity,
cardiovascular disease,
diabetes and non alcoholic
fatty liver disease,” he says.
• Trans-Fat:
This most
commonly come from
the hydrogenation of
polyunsaturated fatty acids
to make them more solid
forms for example, turning
vegetable oils into spreads/
margarine by the process of
pumping hydrogen atoms
through them. “These
are mostly found in very
unnatural foods such as
baked products like pies and
pastries, fast foods and fried
foods,” he says. “Possible
side effects include a link to
increased risk of coronary
heart disease and also trans
fats increase LDL or bad
cholesterol and lower HDL
or good cholesterol.” There
are also reported links
between diets high in trans
fats and an increased risk of
• MSG:
This is found in
processed meat, fish poultry,
sauces, soups and crisps,
says Picken and functions
as a flavour enhancer.
“Possible side effects
include an increase in blood
pressure and it may in fact
cause palpitations known
as “Chinese restaurant
syndrome,” he says.
• Food Colours:
These are
most commonly found in
drinks, candy bars, and
sweets, says Picken and
there are 9 certified synthetic
or unnatural food colours
approved in America.
“Natural food colours from
the pigment of fruits or
vegetables are exempt from
certification,” he says. “For
example Tartazine (E 102-
Gamma) is associated with
hyperactivity in children.”
• Potassium Bromate
These are mostly
found in baked foods and
Picken explains is used as
a flour improver. “Possible
side effects include a link to
certain cancers,” he says.
• Titanium Dioxide
This is found in
food, medicines, and tooth
paste and Pickens says this is
used for colouring. “This is
linked to cancers and also a
rare syndrome called yellow
nail syndrome,” he says.
include maintaining
product consistency such
as emulsifiers or anti-
caking agents, improving
or preserving the nutrient
value, and maintaining the
wholesomeness of foods,” he
says as well as to control the
acidity and alkalinity and
provide leavening as well as to
provide colour and enhance
A preservative, says Picken,
is a natural or unnatural
(chemical) substance used
to preserve foods to inhibit
spoilage. “There are safe
preservatives such as natural
preservatives - salt, vinegar,
and vitamins (ascorbic acid
in lemon) - which can be
used successfully as food
preservative prohibiting
bacterial growth but providing
no nasty side effects. “From
a nutritionist’s perspective,
if it comes out a packet, can
or wrapper you are taking
a risk,” he says and in fact,
most people just eat food
with no clue as to the possible
implications of what they
are eating. “The evolution
of processed foods has seen
the human race effectively
poisoning themselves rather
than using food as a medicine,”
he says. “Everyone should
have knowledge of E-numbers
and also food ingredients and
actually the best way to eat is
natural and unprocessed for
health such as The Paleo diet.”
E Number Range
Most people do not
understand the idea of “e
numbers” says Picken and are
listed below. “E Numbers can
be natural or unnatural but are
mostly unnatural,” he says.
E number range
• E 100-199 are colours
• E 200-299 are preservatives
• E 300-399 are antioxidants
and acidity regulators
• E 400-499 are thickeners,
stabilizers and emulsifiers
• E 500-599 are pH Regulators
and anti-caking agents
• E 600-699 are flavour
• E 700-799 are antibiotics
• E 900-999 are miscellaneous
such as waxes, synthetic
glazes, packing gases,
sweeteners, or foaming
• E 1100-1599 are additional
The Ones to Watch
Out For:
• High fructose Corn
This, says Picken, is