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Watch out for harmful additives, UAE experts say.

Abu Dhabi: Experts warn foods that are considered "healthy" and labelled as "natural" contain many harmful chemicals such as as food preservatives and flavour enhancers -- and these chemicals are often disguised under unrecognisable names.

They say as the food industry has advanced by leaps and bounds, more than three quarters of supermarket shelves are stocked with packaged and processed foods. These boxed, canned, and frozen concoctions in most cases only require boiling or microwaving to become edible.

According to experts, there are more than 3,000 food chemicals purposely added to our food supply, yet avoiding them is a lot easier and more economical than you might think.

A nutritionist said the rule is that the best foods to stay healthy are unprocessed natural foods. That's because man-made chemicals acidify your body pH which in turn accelerates bone loss.

Experts warned the worst additives are the following:

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene): this common additive used to prevent oxidation in a wide variety of foods and cosmetics is listed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in 2005 as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" on the basis of experimental findings in animals. It is also used in jet fuels, rubber petroleum products, transformer oil and embalming fluid. As if this were not enough, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns that BHT should not be allowed to enter the environment, can cause liver damage, and is harmful to aquatic organisms.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Loaded with "unbound" fructose and glucose molecules, studies have shown that the reactive carbonyl molecules can cause tissue damage that may lead to obesity, diabetes, and also heart disease. So much for this "Strong Heart Antioxidants" cereal recipe! HFCS is made from genetically modified corn and processed with genetically modified enzymes. To make matters worse, studies have recently revealed that nearly half of tested samples of HFCS contained mercury.

Yellow #5: Almost all colourants approved for use in food are derived from coal tar and may contain up to 10ppm of lead and arsenic. Also, and not surprisingly, most coal tar colours could potentially cause cancer.

As nutritionists put it, the most harmful ingredient in our diet is, surprisingly, salt. Salt and other sodium-containing additives have been known for more than half a century to boost blood pressure and the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Apr 25, 2013
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