The use of preservatives can be a polarizing subject. Sure these added substances can help extend the shelf life of many pantry staples, but is it possible these added ingredients may be doing more harm than good? The truth is there is a wide range of ingredients that are classified as preservatives. Some chemical preservatives have been linked to possible harmful side effects and some appear to have no adverse effects whatsoever, making it tough to know what’s what. However, if you’re tired of encountering ingredients on food labels that you can’t pronounce or don’t feel like taking a chance on potentially harmful preservatives, you might want to shop preservative-free. Here’s what you need to know.
What are Preservatives?
In the most basic terms, preservatives are chemical (or sometimes natural) substances that are added to products to prevent them from spoiling. This can include chemicals added to prevent fungal, yeast, mold, or bacterial growth, discoloration, or the product’s overall decomposition. Preservatives may also be added to improve texture, act as an emulsifier, or enhance taste.
Benefits of Shopping Preservative-Free
Shopping preservative-free means you’re enjoying food and products in their most natural form. You’re also reducing your exposure to potentially harmful ingredients. Aspartame, sulfites, benzoates, and yellow dye #5 have been linked with triggering sensitivities such as asthma symptoms. However, if you do choose to shop preservative-free, it’s important to pay close attention to the product’s expiration dates and signs of spoilage.
Tips for Avoiding Preservatives
Work to rid your cabinets of preservatives with these smart tips:
- Read labels carefully. Remember that products marked as “all natural” and “natural” are not necessarily preservative-free since the FDA doesn’t regulate these terms. Instead, shop whole, unprocessed staples when available and look for lurking preservatives under ingredient lists (examples of preservatives include: propionates, ascorbic acid, nitrates, xanthan gum, artificial coloring, and sulfites).
- Cook your own meals using whole ingredients whenever possible and avoid packaged, processed foods.
- Shop our list of preservative-free groceries here.
Top Preservative-Free Brands
Stock up on these nourishing, simply crafted brands.
Bob’s Red Mill is one of the largest lines of organic, whole grain foods in the country and is dedicated to producing nutrient-rich food staples without added sugars, preservatives, or GMOs.
Forget about processed grains, added sugar, and preservatives! This whole grain oat flour is made from pure oats (that’s it!) and has a subtle sweet flavor.
Offering everything from tuna and salmon to sardines and anchovies, Wild Planet has a vast variety of sustainably caught seafood to choose from.
Not only will you enjoy 14 grams of protein per serving of this exceptional, sustainably sourced tuna, but it’s cooked only once to help retain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and packed using just sea salt.
If you’re in the market for preservative-free paleo pantry staples, you’ll want to stock up on this brand, which offers grass-fed and pasture-raised jerky and beef sticks along with marinades free of refined sugar, dairy, or soy.
Give meat, fish, and veggie dishes a zesty kick with this preservative-free blend of coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, ginger, paprika, and pineapple concentrate.
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