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Learn what the different ingredient types actually do in your food, and if they are a real food, or an artificial replacement.
This list includes both food additives and what may appear to be food. These are both included, since they both appear on food labels. We cover everything that's listed on the package.

What are they used for: Will provide unique flavors and textures to foods not found in other liquids.

Liquor is most often full of food additives, such as flavorings, preservatives, stabilizers, etc. So even though it is listed as a single item on a packaged food, it comes with it's own list of unlabeled ingredients. There is absolutely no way of knowing what is in these products if it is not further broken down; nor is there any indication of...

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What They Do: Keep powdered foods free-flowing so they don't stick together, and prevent moisture absorption.

Some of these products could be considered real, such as baking soda or corn starch (depending on the exact form of these particular ingredients). However, most of the uses would not be considered real. You need to step back from what the ingredient is sometimes, and see why it is used.

For example, corn starch is used to keep powdered...

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What They Do: Prevents or reduces foaming.

These products are used to reduce foam for the purpose of making industrial food processing faster, thus reducing the cost of making the food. These are often silicone based chemicals, and are only produced in laboratories.

These would not be used by the home cook, as the home cook would allow food to naturally lose foam over time. An example is during jam making, foam forms on the top of the boiling...

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What are they: Edible seeds are the overall category, which include beans, legumes and nuts. Legumes are a class of vegetables that include lentils, peanuts, peas, and beans. They are all seeds, though there is some technical botany differences that do differ from general common usage.

There is a wide variety of uses for the numerous items in the category. Look into the individual items to find out more about what they are, how they're grown,...

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What They Do: Used to decolourize food (non-flour use). Bleaching agents do not include pigments.

These are used to remove color, generally unwanted color, to make food appear more appetizing. This is often done to byproducts of food production, so that unwanted food waste can be converted to another food product. These products often are not pleasant looking, and will need to be bleached before they can be further processed to look...

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What They Do: React with flour or dough to improve dough handling properties, dough stability, baking quality or colour of bakery items.

These ingredients alter the products they are used in to artificially modify the items. This is sometimes done to allow lower quality products to be used, and mimic what a higher quality product would do. This is also done so that some expensive ingredients that would normally be used can be completely...

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What They Do: Contributes to the bulk of a food without contributing significantly to its available energy value.

This is done solely for the purpose of cheating the buyer out of what they think they are buying. These ingredients are also prone to be highly processed waste products, that have been made tasteless and colorless. These are laboratory made items, that have a long history of causing many digestive problems. Many countries have...

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What They Do: Used to dissolve, dilute, disperse, extract or otherwise physically modify a food additive or nutrient without altering its function (and without exerting any technological effect itself) in order to facilitate its handling, application or use of the food additive or nutrient.

These are mostly toxic additives that are used as cheap alternatives to special food preparations, such as extracting oils from plants for use as...

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What They Do: Offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and "fun" foods.

These are used solely for aesthetics, and have no food value, and do not improve the food at all. Many of the colorings used currently have been shown to have serious side effects to humans.

The home cook would...

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What are they used for: They can be used as one of the main ingredients, or as a leavener in baked goods, or to alter the properties of food in various ways.

Chicken eggs are the most common eggs used by North Americans. Other countries use other types of eggs. When grown in wild or organic conditions, and where the birds are allowed to roam fully free, over a large area, and eat directly from the environment, rather than eating commercial...

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What They Do: Used to form or maintain a uniform emulsion of two or more phases in a food, impart a particular food texture through the formation of a gel, or increase the viscosity (thickness) of a food. In plain language, this means that it keeps food mixed together equally, particularly when they would normally separate (like oil and water, for example), and will maintain a particular 'thickness' to things like pudding.

Some of these types...

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What They Do: Enzymes that are able to cause a chemical reaction, modify proteins, polysaccharides and fats.

Many of these items at some point in the past could have potentially been considered real food. Modern processes to harvest the amount of these items that is needed in industrial food manufacturing has now pretty much eliminated any ability to claim many of these as a real food. The labeling requirements provide no way of knowing how...

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What They Do: Provide expected texture and a creamy "mouth-feel" in reduced-fat foods.

These products are an insult to the human body. They truly are fake, and do not belong in the human food chain. Many of these are marketed as natural, yet when you look at the chain of events to create them, they are not natural. Many of these ingredients have a long record of causing severe damage to the human body.

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What They Do: Makes or keeps tissues of fruit or vegetables firm and crisp, or interacts with gelling agents to produce or strengthen a gel.

These products are used to artificially make food appear fresher than they really are. When fruits and vegetables are cooked, they go soft; that is normal. When these types of ingredients are added, they can remain firm, and thus these products can be passed through much more severe processing.

These...

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What They Do: Enhance flavors and odors already present in foods (without providing their own separate flavor); add specific flavors (natural and synthetic).

All of these are unnatural products, and can never be considered real. They allow food manufacturers to create substandard products, with low quality ingredients, yet make them taste much better than they should. This often is achieved by directly affecting the brain into thinking it is...

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What are they used for: Form the base of flour based products, such as breads, cakes, cookies, etc.

Flour is the ground seed or meat of a variety of foods, usually a grain, in the case of wheat, or the meat, in the case of yucca. Flours are used commonly as the main ingredient in breads, cakes, cookies, breakfast cereal, etc. 

In recent years, more information has surfaced that some types of products used to make flour are not as good for us...

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What They Do: Makes it possible to form or maintain a uniform dispersion of a gaseous phase in a liquid or solid food.

The main types of these items used in commercial food processing are unnatural, laboratory created gasses. These gasses make food foam unnaturally, or maintain the foam longer than would be normal, or make food foam that never would by any natural process. Some of these products have a history of not being healthy for humans....

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What They Do: When introduced into a container before, during or after filling with food with the intention to protect the food, for example, from oxidation or spoilage. A gas which expels a food from a container, or used to provide carbonation in a food, or aerate a food.

Many of these ingredients were developed to shortcut the slow fermentation process that would normally have been required, such as in allowing soda to ferment...

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What They Do: When applied to the external surface of a food, impart a shiny appearance or provides a protective coating.

These are all unnatural, laboratory created ingredients, that often replace high quality ingredients, or replace longer processes to achieve the same effect. They also are used to make some foods shiny that should not be shiny.

The home cook can achieve many of these kinds of end results with the techniques they use. Some...

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What are they used for: These are used to make many types of flours, as well as sometimes used in their whole seed state.

These are the seeds of a type of plant classified as grains. A subtype of grains would be Cereal Grains, and these are what are commonly used to make white or whole wheat flour, oatmeal, etc. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals such as wheat and rye, and legumes such as beans and soybeans. 

After being...

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What They Do: Retain moisture, prevents food from drying out by counteracting the effect of a dry atmosphere.

Many of these products have the sole purpose of allowing food that really should only be made and sold immediately, to be able to be packaged and transported, and be held on store shelves and in the cupboard for a long time. These products make some things that could potentially be real food be fake foods.

The home cook can make fresh...

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What They Do: Promote rising of baked goods. A food additive or a combination of food additives, which liberates gas and thereby increases the volume of a dough or batter.

Some of these could potentially be a real food. However, the specific form of these products needs to be know to determine that, but labeling requirements do not provide enough information to be able to find out. Many of these products are now manufactured from completely...

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What They Do: Used to alter or control the acidity or alkalinity of a food, or to prevent a food from drying out, and to prevent spoilage.

Most of these ingredients have the sole purpose of extending shelf life unnaturally, or for short cutting more time consuming preparation processes. These are all made in a lab environment.

These ingredients have no place in the home kitchen. Food should be made and eaten. For the rare occasion that a...

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What They Do: Prevent food spoilage from bacteria, molds, fungi, or yeast (antimicrobials) or oxidation (spoiling); prolongs the shelf-life of food; slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants); maintain freshness.

These products are solely used to preserve food longer than it should be.

As for antioxidants, since this is a modern buzzword, people are lead to believe this is being used as a nutrient,...

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What They Do: Controls the availability of a cation (thus preventing some microbial growth).

These are all preservatives, and all are highly processed, laboratory concoctions. Many have a long history of toxicity in humans, yet still remain in the food supply. These products are made only to extend the shelf life of food, and to allow unsanitary practices to remain in place in food manufacturing.

The home cook has no use for these products....

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What They Do: Provide flavors to a wide range of foods.

Some herbs and spices could be potentially considered a real food, if they are specifically named. There are some names that may not technically be a herb or spice, but are made to sort of sound like one. An example is vanilla and vanillin. Vanilla is the extract of the vanilla bean. Vanillin is a highly manufactured product, where specific chemicals are extracted from a number of products...

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What They Do: Used to modify the structural properties of a starch.

These are chemicals used to modify starches. These are all laboratory manufactured and are used to modify starch so it will behave in a way that normal starch will not, or make food behave in a way that is not possible with any natural ingredient. These chemicals are mostly very toxic chemicals, and high levels of these toxic chemicals are allowed to remain in some of the...

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What They Do: Add sweetness (other than a mono- or disaccharide sugar) with or without the extra calories

This ingredient type includes a very large range of products, from white sugar, to highly processed sugar extracts such as glucose, to all artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners are all laboratory manufactured. Many have a history of being unsafe for humans.

Processed sugar in general is bad for humans, as most people eat way too...

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What They Do: Replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment), add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification).

These are all laboratory manufactured vitamins, with many of them being sourced from rocks rather than from living material. Evidence is now quite clear that the human body has a much harder time digesting these artificial nutrients.

Enriched foods have had to put these nutrients back into the product...

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What They Do: Promote growth of yeast (intentionally, such as in bread making).

These are ingredients that are adding in commercial food manufacturing that act as food for yeast, creating a more desired end product. Technically, some of these could be fine to be used, as they are mostly consumed by the yeast, converting them into normal by products of yeast. In reality, most of these ingredients are manufactured in such a way as to be...

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