When I was asked to join a virtual briefing with today's sponsor, ConAgra Foods via The Motherhood blogger group, I immediately said yes. While I do consider myself a savvy consumer, I know I have more to learn, especially when it comes to additives and preservatives in our food. While I will receive compensation for my time, all opinions in this post are based on information I learned during the briefing and are my own. 

fish, fillets, good food, Cajun,

Providing our family with good for us food has become a lot more complicated the last few years.  Gone are the days when you just went to the produce section and picked up a head of lettuce. Now you have choices, sometimes too many choices.

It gets even more confusing when you leave the produce section and start buying staples.  The store isles are usually full of label readers, just like me trying our best to pick the healthiest food we can afford.  I always look for the sugar, calorie, protein numbers, but one of the important factors I may be overlooking is Antioxidants

Getting to know Antioxidant facts:

Antioxidants are our helpers. We have many antioxidants naturally produced in our body every day. 

  • They prevent oxygen from damaging other molecules.  
  • They can slow the aging process. 
  • They boost your body’s natural defense /immune system, combat heart disease and other diseases.  
  • They also protect our cells and function in foods to protect oils from damage that can lead to rancidity. 

These are all very good things- we want Antioxidants to show up in our bodies every day and the best way to get them there is to eat them. 

Antioxidants in Food:


Certain foods contain natural antioxidants like Vitamin E (Alpha-tocopheral).  Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables like my spinach salad here. 

Spinach salad, green, leafy, veggies, good, food

Another natural antioxidant you’re sure to recognize if you are a food label reader like me is Ascorbic Acid, a.k.a. sodium ascorbate, a.k.a. Vitamin C.  Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C

strawberries, natural, foods, Vitamin C

Sometimes those very clinical, almost chemical sounding names we find on our labels are really nothing to be worried about. 

Man Made:

Learning about man made Antioxidants was the highlight of the virtual briefing with ConAgra Foods. The more we learned and asked as a collective group of bloggers, the more I realized I wanted to know more! 

ConAgra Foods did a wonderful job explaining man made antioxidants are and why we may find them on our food labels and in our food.

You may have seen one these before on your labels:

BHT: A tasteless, colorless man made antioxidant is used to help maintain freshness in grain-based foods like crackers and cookies.

TBHQ: A tasteless, colorless man made antioxidant used commonly to keep vegetable oils and other packaged foods fresh.

I would love to share the whole Q & A section with you because I’m sure you have your own questions about man made antioxidants- but that would be a very large blog post to read so I’m going to share ConAgra Foods information below.

Natural v. Man Made Antioxidants and why they are used from ConAgra:

  • Man-made antioxidants, like BHT and TBHQ, are used because sometimes natural antioxidants throw off flavors of foods we know and love, or because a certain antioxidant might perform best with a certain food.
  •  One type is used over another based on performance – for example TBHQ is often used in fryer oils as it is more stable at higher temperatures than BHT, thus preserving these foods more effectively.
  • Natural and man-made antioxidants are sometimes used together in our favorite foods.
Food makers, like ConAgra Foods, choose certain preservative ingredients based on what they know will deliver the best flavor, while keeping your foods safe and fresh.

If you'd like to learn more about Food preservatives,check out 6 Facts about Preservatives video.

My Take Away:

My take away from the conversation was that whether natural or man-made, all antioxidants are safe for our food and our bodies when eating a balanced diet. Antioxidants help us enjoy the foods we love without having to compromise on taste or quality.

Please share in comments: Are you a label reader too? How much time do you allow yourself to spend reading labels when grocery shopping?

Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only and I make no health claims in my opinions.

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