Preservatives are added to foods to increase shelf life and prevent early spoilage from bacterial growth. Food coloring refers to the addition of manufactured colors to food that must be certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and they're also called food dyes. The health effects of adding preservatives and coloring to foods are wide-ranging. According to InChem, nitrosamines, such as nitrates and nitrites in packaged deli meats, have the potential to form carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents. Avoid any potential health risks by eating a healthy diet that has minimal amounts of added preservatives and colors.
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Natural, Organic Foods
Foods certified as organic by the USDA are free from pesticides, food colors and added preservatives. Your healthiest options are fresh organic foods such as fruits, vegetables and meats. These foods are naturally processed and, according to the website Organic Food For Everyone, are less likely to cause common allergies associated with preservatives and food additives.
Fresh cuts of meat have no added preservatives or coloring. However, meat should be preferably selected from the butcher directly as well as organic and naturally grown. Look for meats that have been labeled as grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free. Avoid any packaged cuts of meat that have been processed, such as deli meats, including ham, deli turkey and smoked bacon. Read the back of the package carefully to look for added ingredients including nitrates and nitrites.
Eggs are a healthy addition to your diet as they are a source of protein, contain healthy fats and have no added sugars. They are also a source of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron and choline, needed for energy and normal body functions. To ensure you are selecting eggs without potentially harmful additives, purchase organic cage-free eggs. Organic, cage-free chickens run freely and are not injected with hormones.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be the foundation of a healthy diet. Produce is naturally occurring and are not processed, refined or manufactured. Read product labels carefully as many frozen or canned vegetables have added preservatives to increase their shelf life or boost taste and texture. Fresh or frozen vegetables that have only the vegetables listed without added salt and sugars are better selections. Purchase organic varieties when possible. If this is not an option, thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables with cold water and a small amount of dish-washing liquid.