Discover the value of essential oils as a safe, food preservative
(NaturalHealth365) Despite growing, double-blinded, placebo-controlled evidence revealing the negative physiological effects of synthetic food preservative ingredients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to ignore the harmful effects of many, conventionally-produced food additives.
Thankfully, there are scientists that say ‘move over synthetics’ because they’ve learned how to harness essential oils as a healthy food preservative.
Could essential oils help us to ditch harmful food preservative ingredients?
In one study, thyme oil performed as the most efficient essential oil food preservative by eliminating bacteria within 60 minutes of use. Incorporating essential oils into food packaging was found to maintain water vapor barrier properties of protein-based films and assist in preventing food oxidation (spoilage).
In addition, essential oils have the potential to lower the risk of antibiotic resistance. For example, according to Professor Yiannis Samaras of the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands says, “not only are essential oils a cheap and effective treatment option for antibiotic-resistant strains, but decreased use of antibiotics will help minimize the risk of new strains of antibiotic resistant micro-organisms emerging,”
Warning about synthetic food preservatives: They can cause hyperactivity and immune system disorders
A noteworthy British study, in The Lancet, found that sodium benzoate used as a food additive or preservative posed too much of a risk for hyperactivity in children to go unnoticed. Yet, the FDA still considers this substance safe when “properly” used.
The same goes for approximately 50 other synthetic additives and preservatives including MSG, aspartame, E330 and E300 citric acid, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate. The use of essential oils via edible films has already been trialed successfully in several studies to help consumers reduce their risk of developing certain cancers, hyperactivity and other immune-related issues.
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Researchers perfecting how to use essential oils as edible films
The films that were used in a recent 2014 study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry containing oregano and clove oil were able to preserve bread longer than common commercial additives. Bread was chosen given its global popularity as a food-stuffs mainstay.
The films were tested after ten days and the essential oil used, as a food preservative, were shown to slow mold growth. Of course, we ought to state the obvious: whenever possible, always choose fresh foods to lower your risk of eating harmful additives.
And, while I am not an advocate of preserving foods past their natural shelf-life, these essential oil films could offer widespread application reducing food waste while slowing the production of synthetic additives. Reducing synthetic additive and preservative production offers a positive environmental impact by decreasing pollution that results from the manufacturing process as well.
By the way, watch out for foods that have been pre-cut – because they create more surface area to invite microbial agents into; posing a risk to your immune system. Until the films hit the shelves here in the states, choose whole foods over foods that have been “convenience-sliced” and prepared such as cheeses, fruits and vegetables.
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, epigenetics, food therapy and sustainable living.
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