Probably, many have heard about the benefits of antioxidants (antioxidants). Nutritionists advise including foods rich in these substances in your diet to reduce the risk of developing the most dangerous diseases of our time, including cardiovascular and oncological. But in addition to the natural antioxidants found in various fruits, berries and vegetables, there is also an industrial version of these substances, which is actively used in the food industry. However, nutritional antioxidants are not added to foods in order to make them more healthy. On the contrary, some of them can cause irreparable damage to health.
Why add antioxidants to food
Antioxidants in the food industry play a common role for themselves - they prevent oxidation. In short, the addition of antioxidants to fats and fat-containing foods can prevent them from rancid. Fruit and vegetable products do not darken under the influence of this additive, and wine, beer and most non-alcoholic drinks do not oxidize.
All food antioxidants can be divided into three classes. The first is actually antioxidants. The second class consists of synergistic substances of antioxidants. The third group consists of the so-called complexing agents.
The action of antioxidants of the first class is most easily explained by the example of vegetable oils. If humanity had not thought of using antioxidants in the food industry, the shelf life of oils and fats would be much shorter than we are used to. The fact is that all fatty foods contain lipids (fat cells), and they, in turn, are unsaturated fatty acids.
When these acids come in contact with air, the oxidation process starts, as a result of which the chemical composition of the product changes and it has a bitter aftertaste.
The presence of antioxidants in fat significantly slows down the oxidation process.
Synergist substances themselves do not have antioxidant properties, but they can enhance the effectiveness of the antioxidants contained in the product. And representatives of the third group, entering into various chemical reactions, start antioxidant processes in the product.
Recognizing the presence of antioxidants in food is easy if you know what indexes they are designated. In the international system, antioxidant additives are E300 and higher.
Types of food antioxidants and their effect on the body
Today, the food industry uses two groups of antioxidants:
- synthetic origin.
Natural antioxidants not only improve product quality, but are also beneficial for humans. Take, for example, E300.
Few people know that behind this "eshka" lies the most common ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. Nutritional supplements with indices from 306 to 309 are also very useful for people, since it is nothing like tocopherols (vitamin E in various forms). In other words, the presence of these "E" in the product should not scare away buyers, but not so with synthetic antioxidants. Supplements from this group may have varying degrees of toxicity.
Substances labeled E310, E311 and E312 are often the cause of an allergic reaction. Even infrequent use of products with these additives can result in an unpleasant skin rash. Antioxidants E320 and E321 are even more dangerous. They adversely affect liver and kidney cells.
Examples of the use of antioxidants
Tocopherols (E306-309) are highly soluble in an oily base and tolerate high temperatures, which is why they are actively used in the production of vegetable oils. Ascorbic acid and its salts in the classification of food additives is E300-E303.
These substances help extend the shelf life of margarines and ghee.
Citric acid and its salts (E330-333) are components of processed cheeses, mayonnaise, margarines, confectionery and canned fish.
By the way, if we talk about natural antioxidants, then it is worth recalling the fact that many spices also have pronounced antioxidant properties. In particular, ginger, dill, fennel, paprika, cardamom, anise, coriander may well perform the functions of some "yesks". If you add a little any of these spices to the fat, its shelf life can be extended by 2-3 times.
Erythorbic (isoascorbic) acid and its salts (E315-E318) are added to products from minced meat, canned food, ham, fish preserves. But there is a strict restriction on the use of these "yeshk". According to the rules, for every kilogram of meat you can’t add more than 500 mg of these antioxidants, and in the same amount of fish they should not be more than 1500 mg.
Propyl gallate (E310) is usually combined with fats of animal and fish origin. This supplement is added to dry soups, milk powder, cream mixes, cereal-based breakfast cereals.
Synthetic E319 helps to extend the shelf life of cooking and vegetable fats, ghee, and E320 can be found in milk powder, salted bacon, pudding mixes and soup concentrates. But one of the most popular synthetic antioxidants is E321, which is added to a wide variety of products: from vegetable oils to sweets and pastries.
While most natural antioxidants are beneficial to humans, the benefits of synthetic supplements can still be argued. Thus, some sources call E320 and E321 carcinogens that contribute to the malignant degeneration of cells. E334 in large doses can cause paralysis. Overuse of E340 can lead to bone destruction.
In other words, there are good reasons to refuse to buy a product that is excessively "improved" with all sorts of "E", including synthetic antioxidants.