Synthetic Antioxidants: Longer Shelf-Life May Lead to Shorter Lifespan

Nutraceuticals Business & TechnologyAntioxidants are touted for their ability to reduce free radical damage and confer antiageing effects. Beverage producers often label their products as sources of “antioxidants.” However, they also act as food preservatives, owing to their chemical properties in preventing food decomposition.1 Unbeknown to many, synthetic antioxidants are added to many food types instead of natural ones. Although these synthetic antioxidants act as food preservatives and preclude undesirable rotting and deterioration, this does not rule out the detrimental effects of long-term synthetic chemical abuse.2,3

The overall purpose of antioxidants is to prevent oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical process that involves highly reactive free radicals that are known to cause cancer and premature ageing. Naturally occurring antioxidants include retinoids (vitamin A), bioflavonoids (citrin), polyphenols (hydroxytyrosol), tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). These beneficial antioxidants play a significant role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, ageing and immune deficiency diseases. Today, many researchers and health critics are questioning the safety of synthetic antioxidants such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and propylgallate.3 The use of these common synthetic alternatives has increasingly become viewed as a threat to human health around the world.

Originally printed in Nutraceutical Business & Technology Volume 9 Number 3 – May/June 2013

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