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Nutrition and Health Risks: Beware of chemical additives


Beware of chemical additives
9 August 2004
Source: Gulf Daily News

Some foods are pumping chemicals into our bodies that may do real harm, says lifestyle expert Helen Evans.

When cooking a home made meal for the family, we would generally add herbs and spices, or a pinch of salt or pepper to make it tastier. We would certainly think twice about adding lots of chemical flavouring, colouring, artificial preservatives, or just for good measure, a few pesticide residues.

And yet this is just what is available on the menu from many ready-made meals.

We must be extra vigilant about food additives, especially where children's food is concerned, because we do not know the long-term effects that they may have.

Children's immune systems are not fully developed like adults and they are therefore more susceptible to damage from chemical substances in their food. Scientists argue that we have more chemicals present in our bodies today than we had 50 years ago, due mainly to changes in diet.

Popular soft drinks targeted at children are packed with additives linked to potential health problems and some have been found to contain more than 70 additives.


Many of these are linked to behaviour problems, rotting teeth, asthma, and even insomnia. A typical diet cola would be found to contain a cocktail of additives, in addition to carbonated water.

Caramel colouring, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, phosphoric acid, flavourings, citric acid, preservatives and caffeine. Hardly something that you would want to knock up at home for the children to drink!

We tend to regard snack foods as an acceptable part of a child's diet, yet many young children are constantly snacking on fizzy drinks, crisps and sweets which contain many chemicals.

These are sold on cartoon character advertising and bright, eye-catching packaging, but the consequences are that many more children today have learning difficulties and are hyperactive.

High sugar snacks rot children's teeth and parents are advised to minimise their children's intake of artificial chemicals by getting them into good eating habits.

Fruit snacks are the most acceptable and schools can do a lot to support parents by having a healthy snack policy.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are your insurance policy against cancer and scientists maintain that sprouts and broccoli are foremost in fighting the disease in the same way as anti-cancer drugs. Both children and adults should eat two or three portions a week. Other brassicas are cauliflower, swede, cabbage, mustard, kale and wasabi, but always rinse fresh fruit and vegetables in fresh water to get rid of any pesticide residues.

The magic of soya beans

Soya bean has been an important ingredient in Chinese cooking for thousands of years and scientists now believe that Soya could play an active role in protecting men against prostate cancer.

When Soya is digested it produces molecules in the intestine that block a hormone that can cause prostate cancer.

Eating Soya-rich food could also reduce the risk of women developing breast cancer and studies indicate that a Soya diet in adolescence could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in later life.

A closer look at asparagus

Famous for its distinctive spears, the word Asparagus comes from the Persian, asparag, meaning sprout. It is often regarded as a restaurant chef's favourite and yet with its sweet, full flavour it is just the thing to top off any meal at home.

It is crammed with essential vitamins and minerals and although native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, it is now grown around the world. Some may find asparagus expensive, but one of the reasons for its high price is that it takes about three years to grow and produce tips that are thick enough to market.

Asparagus not only tastes good but it can do you good as well. It contains no fat, cholesterol or sodium and is rich in vitamins A and C, Folic acid, iron, and potassium. As with so many recent discoveries, cancer research has indicated that antioxidant minerals, such as Vitamin A may help prevent cancer, and Asparagus is also good news for those looking to lose weight.

Low in calories, it helps to form part of a balanced diet as one of your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

Cooking asparagus could not be easier and there are various ways to prepare it as a great starter or as a side dish for your main course. Cooking time is usually between three and six minutes when boiled (depending on size) and the spears can also be steamed, roasted, stir-fried or barbecued. Roasting usually takes between 10 and 12 minutes.

l This article is supplied by Arden Healthcare. For more information, visit the website

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