***Disclosure: Disclosure: This post is part of the #AntioxidantFacts blogger program by ConAgra Foods and The Motherhood, who compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are my own, and I hope you enjoy them***
A Few Days Ago I participated in a Q&A where I learned all about Antioxidents and Preservatives. I chatted with Lanie Friedman: Director, Communications & External Relations at ConAgra Foods. Kelly Magurany, M.Sc., DABT Principal Research Scientists- Toxicology – Food Protection and Regulatory Affairs at ConAgra Foods. Kristi Reimers, RD, PhD, Nutrition Director of Nutrition in Research & Innovations at ConAgra Foods. I went in with basic facts and really just wanted some simple information that I could share with you guys. So Here’s Preservatives 101:
Why should we preserve our food?
- Natural color preservation
- Food waste reduction
How can we preserve our food?
Methods like canning and freezing – even putting foods in the fridge helps preserve foods
Ingredients can be added to every day packaged foods to help preserve them
What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants help prevent oxygen from damaging other molecules. Antioxidants function in the body to help protect cells, and they function in foods to protect oils from damage that leads to rancidity.
Antioxidants in the Body
- We have many antioxidants that are naturally produced in our body every day, such as after exercise; these antioxidants help fend off environmental toxins and stress on the body
- Our bodies carefully control the amount of antioxidants in our cells; we can get very sick if the normal level of antioxidants in our body becomes too low
- Some of our most important vitamins, such as vitamin E and vitamin C, are used in our body as antioxidants
Body benefits of antioxidants:
- Slow the aging process
- Boost your body’s natural defense system
- Help combat heart disease, cancer and other diseases
Antioxidants in Food
- Like the vitamins in your body, certain foods contain natural antioxidants, such as polyphenols; some foods may also contain man made antioxidants
- When you open a box of food, the exposure to air can cause certain ingredients that are common in our food, like fats and oils, to spoil; the unpleasant odors and flavors that follow are sometimes called “rancidity”
Food benefits of antioxidants:
- Prevent food from becoming rancid (spoiling), and therefore wasted
- Preserve food’s flavors
- Help preserve natural color in food
Antioxidants Naturally Found in Food
- Alpha-tocopherol (aka Vitamin E) – Found in nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables – helps to protect fats and oils in food from spoiling
- Ascorbic Acid (aka Vitamin C) – Found in citrus fruits, sometimes also called sodium ascorbate –saves breads and packaged meat from spoiling
- Citric Acid – Found naturally in citrus fruits – used to preserve sliced fruit
- Man Made Antioxidants in Food
- BHT: A tasteless, colorless man made antioxidant is used to help maintain freshness in grain-based foods like crackers and cookies
- TBHQ: A tasteless, colorless man made antioxidant used commonly to keep vegetable oils and other packaged foods fresh
Natural v. Man Made Antioxidants
Man made antioxidants, like BHT and TBHQ, are used because sometimes natural antioxidants throw off flavors of foods we know and love, or because a certain antioxidant might perform best with a certain food
One type is used over another based on performance – for example TBHQ is often used in fryer oils as it is more stable at higher temperatures than BHT, thus preserving these foods more effectively
Natural and man made antioxidants are sometimes used together in our favorite foods
Food makers, like ConAgra Foods, choose certain preservative ingredients based on what they know will deliver the best flavor, while keeping your foods safe and fresh
Whether man-made or natural, all antioxidants, when consumed as part of a balanced diet, are safe for your food and for your body. Ultimately, these antioxidants help you and your family enjoy the foods that you love without having to compromise on taste or quality.
After The Presentation
I know that’s a lot of facts just thrown at you. However, I hope that like me you found it informative. I learned quite a bit and now I have even more questions. I will definitely be looking more closely at the back of packages to see what we are putting into our bodies.