Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What is This I'm Eating?

The other day at work, our manager brought in a strawberry cheese danish for us in celebration of a milestone on our project.  It claimed to be sensational (and it was!).  One of our other co-workers decided to read through the ingredients to see what they all were.  I decided it might be interesting to decipher some of the more technical sounding ingredients.

Niacin: also known as vitamin B3.  It's good for you!

Thiamine mononitrate: a synthetic form of vitamin B1 - also good for you!

Riboflavin: vitamin B2. I'm sensing a theme of big scary names for healthy things.

Folic Acid: Vitamin B9

Vegetable Monoglycerides: an 'emulsifier', used to help mix ingredients (like oil and water) that don't mix well together

Soy Lecithin: easily extracted substance from things such as soy beans. Also acts as an emulsifier.

Sodium Benzoate: Widely used food preservative - inhibits growth of many bacteria involved in food spoiling.  Typically works in an acidic environment.

Citric Acid: a weak acid used to add sour tastes to foods

Beta Carotene: a red-orange pigment found in plants - also a 'precursor' to Vitamin A.

Lactic Acid: also known as 'milk acid', responsible for sore muscles, tooth decay, and sour milk.  Foodwise it is found in sour food items.

Apocarotenal: carotenoid found in spinach and fruit.  Precursor to Vitamin A..

Propylene Glycol: commonly used as a solvent.  Can be toxic if consumed in large quantities.  It also can be irritating to the eyes.

Potassium Sorbate: naturally occurs in berries.  Produced industrial and often used to restrict the growth of mold and yeast.

Sodium Citrate: A form of citric acid

Propionic Acid: preservative that inhibits mold and bacterial growth

Phosphoric Acid: used to provide a tangy or sour flavor in food.

Tapioca Dextrin: dextrin naturally occurs in baking processes.  acts as a 'crispness' enhancer in food and also is used for water soluble glues, including the stuff on envelopes.

Microcrystalline Cellulose: wood pulp - used to texturize, add bulk, etc.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: food additive found in baked goods, ice cream, and gravies among other things

Casein: a protein found in mammalian milk.  It is used in glues, paints, cheesemaking, protein supplements, and plastics.

Calcium Lactate: used in food.  Can help aid in the remineralization of tooth enamel, and in keeping freshly cut fruits firm.

Dextrose: commonly occurring sugar

Agar: made from boiling red algae.  Used as a medium for growing bacteria. Typically used as a thickening agent in foods.

Ascorbic Acid: fancy name for Vitamin C.

Well, it sure does surprised me at how many preservatives are in food, as well as how they disguise the name of some things, like vitamins, with big scientific names.

Remember, we are what we eat!

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