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January 21, 2019

Baked beans, bread: Most preservative-laden foods in supermarkets revealed

"Eating nitrites found in meat products has been linked with an increased risk of thyroid cancer." /DAILY MAIL
"Eating nitrites found in meat products has been linked with an increased risk of thyroid cancer." /DAILY MAIL

You know E numbers are bad and long lists of things you can't pronounce probably aren't good, but did you know you're possibly eating more preservatives than ever without even realising?

It's true. And while preservatives can be good for you - insofar as they keep your food fresh - because we are consuming more processed food than before we are also eating more preservatives.

From tinned foods to spreads and sausages and cereal, Sydney-based dietitian and nutritionist, Lyndi Cohen, revealed some of the most surprising preservative-laden foods.

She also explained how you can replace some of these additives with healthier alternatives.

According to Cohen, preservatives can serve a purpose, if the right ones are eaten and they're consumed in moderation:

"It's far healthier to eat preservatives than to risk getting food poisoning," she explained to FEMAIL.

"Food poisoning kills around 86 people every year in Australia and preservatives can serve a purpose in high-risk products.' 

But, she argued that we are eating "far too much processed food, which often contains plenty of preservatives".

"Cheaper food can contain more preservatives - in order to increase their shelf lives," Cohen added.

So how can you know where added nasties might be lurking?

First of all, Cohen said you need to look to 'store-bought packaged foods'.

Things such as packaged bread, meat, lollies, sauces, tinned foods - like baked beans for example - as well as dips, sausages, spreads, cereals, soft drinks, chips, biscuits, baked goods and fast food contain many preservatives, said the dietitian.

"You need to be mindful of the preservatives which are fine to eat, and those you should be mindful of," she said.

Try to remember that ascorbic acid 'is an antioxidant found naturally in fruit and veg'.

"It is often added to many products, from cereals to dips and drinks. Ascorbic acid is perfectly safe to eat and is a simple way to keep food fresh and reduce the risk of contamination," Cohen said.

Instead, you need to be careful around sulfites and nitrites.

"Sulphites can be naturally occurring in some foods, but they have been linked with allergies and asthma," she said.

'Meanwhile, eating nitrites found in meat products has been linked with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.'

Ms Cohen also shared how you can eat fewer preservatives - and it all comes down to whole foods.

"Eat more whole foods and less processed food and this is the simplest way to avoid preservatives," she said.

"Try to limit takeaways and cook at home so you know what ingredients are going into your food."

The dietitian also favours fresh cuts of meat, instead of cured or preserved options, and suggests DIYing your own cereal "by combining oats, bran flakes, seeds and nuts".

"You can also choose a wholemeal, rye or multi-grain sourdough instead of store-bought, mass-produced bread," she said.

Lastly, make your own sweet treats - whether that is banana ice cream or chocolate bliss ball brownies.

For those wanting to assess the preservatives in their food, Cohen said you should "read the ingredients list and if you can't pronounce or recognise it, don't buy it".

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