This conversation is sponsored by ConAgra Foods and The Motherhood, all views and opinions shared are my own.
As a mom who is constantly having to shop for groceries, I've often been the one standing in a grocery aisle staring at a box to read the ingredient list. I've heard the saying if you can't read the ingredients then don't eat it, but I've wondered how much truth there is in that statement. I was honored to be invited to join a virtual briefing with the wonderful people at ConAgra Foods and The Motherhood joined by several other concerned bloggers like myself. I have so many questions about the preservatives and antioxidants being added to our foods, but never knew where to turn for the facts. Chances are that you've had a lot of the same questions floating around about antioxidants, and I hope to help share the insights I learned with you now.
Preserving our food is not a new concept. I remember my mom talking about snapping beans with my great-grandmother as a child so she could can them for the Winter. I also had fun helping my mother snap beans and pick tomatoes for canning. My absolute favorite thing to help my mom can was her homemade salsa! There are several ways to preserve foods, canning, freezing, and adding ingredients to packaged foods to keep them fresh.
One of the ways scientists are able to preserve foods is by using Antioxidants. 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. I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to eat rancid food!
Antioxidants Naturally Found in Food (I found this interesting, now I can recognize these names when looking at a package in the store.)
- 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.
Watch this easy to follow video below and learn 6 Facts about Preservatives.
When our chat was over I learned that: 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. I know I for one do not want to eat macaroni and cheese that tastes like lemon! Having the right antioxidant for the right job is just as important as the need to preserve our foods.