A truth or two about antioxidants (numbered in 300s)

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Well, you might have heard that antioxidants are good for you. While naturally occurring antioxidant properties found in berries, green tea and kidney beans may have a positive effect on maintaining healthy heart function amongst other things, antioxidants found in foods as additives are (again) produced in a lab from, hang on …petroleum?? They are basically a form of preservatives, but since they have anti oxidising properties they are called antioxidants – pretty sneaky if you ask me (see my post about “preservative free” peanut butter).

Typical products containing bad antioxidants are dairy blend edible fats and oils, margarine, dripping, salad dressing, lipsticks, biscuits, cakes, fats and oils, cereals, pastry and pastry products, sweets, edible oils, chewing gum, fats, margarine, nuts, instant potato products.

Australian additive guide explains the nature of those antioxidants as follows (I hope you’re sitting down):

E319 Butylhydroxinontert-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): Petroleum based; may cause nausea, vomiting, delirium. Acceptable Daily Intake: Up to 0.02 mg/kg body weight. A dose of 5g is considered fatal.

E320 Butylated hydroxy-anisole (BHA): Petroleum derivative; BHA is a synthetic analogue of vitamin E and operates by reducing oxygen radicals and interrupting the propagation of oxidation processes. It is widely used as an antioxidant and preservative mainly to prevent rancidity in fats and oils, and is prepared from p-methoxyphenol and isobutene. Other names: tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole, tert-butyl-4-methoxyphenol, BOA, (1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-methoxyphenol

E321 Butylated hydroxy-toluene (BHT): Petroleum derivative; BHT is a synthetic analogue of vitamin E and operates by reducing oxygen radicals and interrupting the propagation of oxidation processes. It is widely used as an antioxidant and preservative, and is prepared from p-cresol and isobutylene. It is one of the most commonly used antioxidants for food oils and fats. Other names: 2,6-di-tert-butyl-4-methylphenol, 2,6-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-methylphenol

I don’t think I could have painted the picture more clearly myself…

Avoid: TBHQ, BHA, BHT (319-321)

Instead: read product labels thoroughly and if you can choose a product not containing any of these, you should do so.

Read more on additives and ways to avoid them: Artificial colours, Preservatives, Flavour enhancers.

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