If you are serious about a healthy diet then you probably check your food labels for additives or code number as well as the list of ingredients. So here are seven that are harmless or even good for you. Surprised? Read on ...
1. Lecithin code number 322
Lecithin is a natural substance found in soy beans and egg yolks. It's used as an emulsifier (binding agent) in foods such as margarine, chocolate, muesli bars and packet cakes.
2. Acetic acid 260
A weak food acid found in vinegar, wine and apples, acetic acid is added to foods to give a sour taste or to correct the flavour balance.
A natural sugar found in fruit and honey. It has the same kilojoules (calories) and carbohydrate as ordinary sugar (sucrose).
A starch that's derived from wheat or maize starch but then treated so it can thicken soups and sauces without making them too thick and gluggy. It is very rapidly digested and absorbed which is not ideal; however it's only present in small quantities. However, anyone with coeliac disease should avoid maltodextrin - unless it tells you it's made from maize (which is gluten-free) on the label.
5. Xanthan gum 415
A natural gum which is synthesised by a bacteria on an industrial scale and used to give "body" to food. A bit like gelatine that makes jelly set. Like other forms of soluble fibre, it is broken down by bacteria in our large intestine.
6. Natural colour beta-carotene 160a
An orange-yellow food colour called beta-carotene derived from plant pigments. You're already eating it in pumpkin, carrots, mango and apricots. It functions as an antioxidant and is converted to vitamin A in the body.
7. Thickeners 1400 to 1405
Any of a number of starches made from maize, potato or wheat used to thicken foods like sauces, soups, stock and custard. Again, if you have coeliac disease check carefully.
- To read some frequently asked questions (and answers!) on additives and food labels, check out my FAQ here.
- Find out everything about additives, their types and functions in food.
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