How much of the food you eat has a natural taste? Probably, this question will have you thinking for a while. Even if you are concerned with your diet and try to lead a more or less healthy lifestyle, chances are, you still consume a lot of foods with artificial flavours.
What Are Artificial Flavors?
Artificial flavours are basically man-made edible chemicals that are added to food products to enhance their taste or to add some taste which is not in the ingredients. Most processed foods, in fact, are enhanced by some type of artificial flavour. Take strawberry yoghurt, for example. Even if the entire Earth was covered in strawberry fields, there would still be not enough naturally grown strawberry to cater for the demand in all the products with strawberry flavour: yoghurts, packaged desserts, chocolates, candy (especially candy) – they all have a strawberry taste thanks to the artificial strawberry flavour.
The same regards almost all other types of processed food. For example, almost all processed foods contain monosodium glutamate – an artificial chemical that helps enhance a product’s taste. It is used everywhere – from chips and sweet beverages to milk and juice, seemingly natural and harmless products. Similar taste enhancers are contained in barbecued meat (to add a smoky flavour, many restaurants use meat additives, ask McDonald’s), sweets or even eggs. As a result, we probably don’t even know what natural food really tasted like back in the day anymore. The main categories of artificial flavours are allowed by FDA as those that are “generally safe to eat” since they do not cause any immediately visible health damage, as revealed by the FDA analysis. Thus, they are completely legal to use for the makers of processed foods.
There are, however, two problems with them. The first problem is that they are addictive. The more additives a product contains, the more addictive it is. On top of this list, we can find beverages like Cola, chips, nachos and junk food.
Another problem is that food producer is rarely made to expose the actual substances they put into our food. It is enough for them to label it as “artificial flavours”. This creates a problem since some artificial flavours are indeed damaging to our health. For instance, high-fructose corn syrup is used as a substitute for sugar in many processed foods: soda, chips, chocolates, simply because it is cheaper. However, it has a long-term effect on your liver and blood vessels, being the direct cause of diabetes, liver cancer or excessive weight. Even though this sweetener is not healthy, the producers opt for it because it reduces the production costs.
How to Avoid Artificial Flavors?
The answer to this question is simple. First, try to buy organic. Anything you eat with its peel has to come from organic farms and be grown without the use of chemicals. Most fruits, vegetables and dairies can be found on organic markets. And secondly, avoid processed carbohydrates. Eat fewer chocolates, candy and other packaged foods, if you do not understand what half of the ingredients on the label mean. If you want chocolate, go for hand-made organic options. With this advice, you are much less likely to end up being sick because of the food you eat, and you will be able to lead a much healthier lifestyle.