If the food at your local market were consumed shortly after being harvested, there would be little need for substances used for preservation measures.
But extending the shelf life of foods is just one reason why additives may be used in the foods consumed by the general public. Other reasons include:
To enhance the colors.
To enhance the texture.
To boost nutritional content.
While extending shelf life, boosting nutritional values and enhancing the colors and textures of food can all be excellent perks, food additives do not come without risk to health.
While the majority of agents used in foods for preservation, texture and color enhancement are harmless, some that have been used over the course of our history entered our food chain posing significant health risks. Even in today's most modern world, there are health risks associated with food additives.
Let's first address a couple of additives from our history - and we'll add, our 'recent' history.
The artificial food dyes named 'Red 2' and 'Violet 1' were eliminated from the food chain as they were connected to cancer causing agents. As a child I remember eating numerous frozen juice bars that my brother and I got from the ice cream man who used to frequent our Texas streets amid the hot days of summer. These frozen treats were so red that they were blinding to the naked eye - likely holding the red dye that was later removed and banned from the market.
Now let's move on to our current food chain and the health risks associated with food additives.
Aspartame has the potential to cause health issues for individuals who have a rare hereditary metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria. It may also worsen epileptic seizures.
Some of these substances may trigger allergic, life threatening reactions in susceptible individuals.
Certain additives may interfere with medications as well as worsen medical conditions, particularly hidden ones.
Natural foods are easier to digest as well as less taxing to our delicate digestive system.
Fresh choices contain essential vitamins and minerals required by the human body.
Avoiding additives can eliminate any risks associated with such. The body is likely to be healthier and feel better. For more information, specific substances used in our foods is discussed on this page of Diet Bites.