Sulfites should be avoided by more than just those who suffer from an allergy. The free radicals associated with sulfites have been directly linked with aging and deadly diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. What’s more, sulfites are among the most common food preservative used in the world today. With this in mind, what can you do to remove these vicious particles from your daily routine?
Packaging is your first line of defense when it comes to finding out if what you are consuming contains sulfites. The FDA is aware of the dangers associated with sulfites and requires a “Contains Sulfites” label on all food items which have sulfite concentrations greater than 10 parts per million. Below that threshold, sulfites have been shown to do little to no harm, even when consumed by those with an allergy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Since 1986, sulfites have been banned for use on fresh foods served in the United States, so eating fresh produce is another easy way to avoid sulfites. Dried fruit in particular is often produced and stored with incredibly high levels of sulfites, with concentrations often exceeding 1,000 ppm. While not as high as dried fruit, canned produce is known to have high concentrations of sulfites as well.
Sulfites are commonly used to help make wine more shelf stable and reduce microbial growth. Sulfites also naturally occur during fermentation, so you will often find that there is some concentration in other alcoholic beverages as well. However, most hard liquors do not contain any sulfites as they are separated out during distillation and are not necessary for stability once alcohol levels rise over roughly 20%.
If you are trying to eradicate sulfites from your diet, but don’t want to stop drinking your favorite beverage, StiQit s a great way to keep all of the flavor in your wine without the harmful sulfites. One quick swirl is all it takes for the perfect, sulfite-free glass of wine.
Because processed foods are meant to be kept on the shelf for an extended period before they are purchased, they can often contain high levels of sulfites. Food items made with grains or flour such as pasta, pie crust, cookies, crackers, and pizza crust will all often have sulfite additions to help preserve color, flavor, and texture. With items such as these, it is best to check with the manufacturer in order to get a good understanding of sulfite concentrations.
Many package and “instant” products can often contain high sulfite levels. Potato chips, instant mashed potatoes, canned and dried soup mixes, and gelatin are all common sources of sulfates that can be easily eradicated by going with a fresher option.
Meat and Seafood
Unfortunately for everybody, bacon has a ton of sulfites, often in the range of 600 to 800 ppm. Sausages, hot dogs, shrimp, and lobster are all common sources of sulfites in protein as well. Unprocessed red meat is safe from sulfites due to the fact that they can make meat look fresher than it actually is. The FDA decided that use of sulfites on such products is illegal, though you may still find some in processed beef dishes.
Condiments and Sweeteners
Many of our favorite toppings can drastically increase our sulfite intake, and these are easily reduced or removed from your routine. Salad dressing, horseradish, and jam are all easy options to cut back on, or remove entirely if you are trying to live without sulfites. For those with a sweet tooth, avoid molasses, both white and brown sugar derived from sugar beets, and maple syrup as these are all high in sulfites. It is also worth being wary of items which contain high levels of high fructose corn syrup such as soda, candy, sweetened yogurt, and juice.
While it may seem like pretty much everything contains sulfites these days, there are ways to eat well and maintain a healthy lifestyle without these hazardous particles. By focusing your diet around eating fresh food and arming yourself with the right tools, you can have the sulfite-free life that you are looking for.