Understanding how fast food is made and what chemicals can be used in fast food
Salt, sugar, and chemicals are often present in fast food ingredients, contributing to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These are the leading causes of death in the US.
Fast food might seem convenient at the time, but the chemicals can lead to long-term health problems. Let us dive right into it and see what fast food is and the substances placed in the food products to make it convenient and addictive.
What Is Fast Food?
Fast-food restaurants have existed for over a century. Their popularity has only skyrocketed in the past five decades. More than a third of Americans eat fast food every day.
Any food prepared quickly and served immediately for consumption is considered fast food. Fast food consists of the following elements:
- Accessibility on the go.
- It is typically less expensive than eating in a traditional sit-down restaurant.
- Frozen foods or those prepared with fried ingredients are often included.
How Is Fast Food Made?
Every day, millions of pounds of food are produced by the fast-food industry. Fast food is generally made in large factories and farms because it is easy to make, cheap, and consumed quickly.
Fast-food restaurants then assemble these meals from the products shipped by factories. In most fast-food restaurants, meals are prepared from frozen, canned, or dehydrated products and reheated before serving.
Fats, carbohydrates, and sugars are the components of most fast food products. Despite being high in calories, these foods are low in nutrition. This process can lead to binge eating.
Fast Food Ingredients
There are three critical ingredients in fast food, namely:
Most fast food products are made to last longer by adding trans fats (which form when liquid oils are solidified). Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) increase in your blood and lower your good lipoproteins (HDLs – high-density lipoproteins). Red meat and cheese, which contain naturally occurring saturated fats, have been linked to an increase in bad cholesterol.
Fast food items like sauces, dressings, batter and bread use sugar as a popular ingredient. Consuming too much sugar can cause serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In addition to its addictive quality, sugar may also contribute to depression when consumed in excess.
It appears in ingredient lists under more than fifty different names, including high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and molasses.
Seasonings and home cooking use salt (sodium) as a flavor enhancer. However, sodium is used as a preservative in fast foods to extend shelf life and enhance the taste. Approximately 1,300 milligrams of sodium can be found in one fast food meal. This amount exceeds half of the recommended daily intake!
Regular consumption of high sodium foods is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease.
What Chemicals Have Been Found In Fast Food?
Ingredients in fast food are more complicated than they seem. Perhaps you think your meals consist solely of simple ingredients: ground beef burgers, sliced cheese, and potatoes for the french fries. Fast food ingredients are, in reality, hidden.
Fast food contains a lot of chemicals, and not everyone knows what they are. All of the chemicals used in preparing fast food for distribution and consumption present a significant danger in fast food.
Chemicals are added to most fast food items to enhance their texture and taste, but these chemicals are harmful to your health and can compromise the nutritional value of the food.
These chemicals are commonly found in fast food:
In high doses, this additive is toxic, as it stabilizes moisture to prevent ingredients from sticking together and drying out. It is defined as a caking agent according to the FDA.
The ingredient is used in several foods, including soft drinks, marinades, dressings, seasonings, baked goods, and frostings to preserve texture, mainly to prevent moist foods from drying out and absorb flavors and colors.
The preservative is used in bacon, ham, and beef to keep them fresher for longer by improving their color. It also helps to fight off harmful bacteria in the meat. It has been linked to certain forms of cancer.
Synthetic Food Dye
Dyeing foods make them more appealing, but they can also cause allergic reactions and pose a health risk. That said, aside from Red 3, there are not enough studies to suggest that artificial food dyes cause cancer.
This chemical is added to bread products as a dough enhancer and is also used in commercial fertilizers. It is used to lower the pH balance in the soil. It also helps contribute to nitrogen which helps in plant growth.
Azodicarbonamide is a chemical substance that the FDA approves. It is used as a whitening agent in cereal color and as a dough conditioner in bread.
More than 500 food products contain azodicarbonamide chemical, which is also used to make rubber yoga mats. It can cause respiratory problems and allergies if inhaled or ingested.
PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds) are fluorine-based chemicals found in fast-food packaging associated with cancer, fertility issues, low birth weight, and weakened immune systems, according to research published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
A study of over 400 containers and wrappers from fast-food chains across the country found that fluorine-coated 20% of french fry cardboard sleeves, 38% of burger and sandwich wrappers, and 56% of dessert and bread wrappers.
Although fast food is convenient, are the health risks that go along with it worth it? Large-scale factory farms produce genetically modified chickens, pigs, and cows fed antibiotics to grow faster for fast food chains. As a result, when you consume their meat, you absorb these antibiotics.
Eating healthy does not have to be a challenge. It is essential to choose fruit and vegetables with every meal, limit sugary and processed foods, and drink enough water to maintain a healthy diet.