Catherine Saxelby

Nutritionist, Blogger, Award Winning Author
  • 18 September 2023

    Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    What’s in your favourite tomato pasta sauce, and how much of it? Here are the most popular sauces reviewed for your reading ple...
  • 14 June 2023

    Protein-rich foods – serve sizes

    Protein, protein, protein. Are you getting enough? Here is a handy list of MEAT and NON-MEAT SOURCES of protein for you to prin...
  • 07 June 2023

    The truth behind coconut oil

    Many “health gurus” tout the benefits of coconut oil. Just type the term into any search engine and you’ll be flooded with arti...
  • 31 May 2023

    Gardening – is it really exercise?

    Did you know that gardening can reduce your risk of heart diseaset?  This month I’ll share this and the latest posts from ...
  • 17 May 2023

    Plant-based meat substitutes

    What do YOU think about plant-based meat substitutes? Veggie-loaded burgers? All-vegetable rissoles? Meatless Mondays?Yet anoth...
  • 10 May 2023

    The truth about lecithin

    What IS lecithin, I hear you ask. A popular “health food” supplement, lecithin is a type of fat called a phospholipid, which ha...
  • 03 May 2023

    Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    As you probably know already, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained favour as an alternative regimen to daily caloric restrictio...
  • 26 April 2023

    Reduce your risk of a knee replacement - if you lose weight

    Did you know that you can reduce your risk of needing a knee replacement by losing weight?  I’ll share this and the latest...
  • 19 April 2023

    Brighten your diet – eat by the rainbow

    What’s the first thing that strikes you when you walk into a fresh produce store? If you’re imagining the rainbow of colour…so ...
  • 29 March 2023

    Eat a high quality diet and there's less chance of overweight..

    Did you know that a better (high quality) diet can help you reduce overweight? I’ll share this and the latest posts from the Fo...

Seven additives you don’t need to worry about

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 31 August 2017.
Tagged: additives, food labels, guides, healthy eating, label

Seven additives you don’t need to worry about
No video selected.

If you are serious about a healthy diet then you probably check your food labels for additives. As a rule, acidity regulators, emulsifiers, gums, thickening agents and natural colours are mostly harmless and on my OK list. Here are seven additives that are harmless or even good for you. Surprised?

Seven ‘good’ additives

In my eBook – The Handy Foodwatch Guide to Food Additives - I’ve listed 28 additives that are harmless and don’t pose any problems. In fact, you are more than likely already consuming them in natural fare or as supplements or pharmaceuticals.  (However, if you find you are allergic to any, you’ll know what to look for and to avoid them.) Anyway, here are seven that I’m talking about:

1. Beet red (162)

Also known as Beetroot red, Betanin or Betanine, Beet red is a purple–red food colour extracted from everyday beetroot (Beta vulgaris). Yep, the same one you cook up for that glorious beetroot, walnut and spinach salad.

Where you’ll find it

Natural confectionery; desserts, berry ice-cream, sorbet; jams, jellies; sauces.

2. Acetic acid (260)

Acetic acid is an organic acid that gives vinegar its sour taste and distinct smell. Small quantities are added to foods to give a sour taste and correct the flavour balance. There’s nothing sinister about acetic acid!

Where you’ll find it

Pickled vegetables, chutneys; vinegar; ice-cream; cheese; cereal or muesli bars; sauces.

3. Citric acid (330)

Citric acid gives food a sharp or sour taste, which produces a pleasing tart flavour, balances out any sweetness and helps maintain a constant acid level in food.

It is sometimes used to prevent oxidation such as browning or deterioration.

Citric acid Label magnified yellowIt occurs naturally as the acid of lemons, limes and other citrus fruit; the citric acid added to canned tomatoes is the SAME.

You can readily buy citric acid as white crystals or granules at supermarkets and pharmacies.

It’s sold as a lemon juice substitute, flavouring agent or natural cleaning aid. It adds an extra sharp flavour to lemon cordial and all sorts of beverages.

Where you’ll find it

Soft drinks, iced teas, juices and other beverages; jellies, lemon-flavoured puddings and desserts; jams, confectionery; canned foods; processed meat products.

4. Lecithin (322)

Lecithin, a natural substance found in soy and egg yolks, is used as an emulsifier. It works to keep all ingredients blended and avoid any ‘weeping’ - you wouldn’t be happy to see your jar of mustard separate into a layer of oil and a layer of the rest, would you? However, if the lecithin is derived from soy then those with soy allergies should avoid it.

Where you’ll find it

Margarine; mustards; soups and sauces; chocolate and packet cake mixes.

5. Pectin (440)

Pectin is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in fruits and vegetables that is responsible for cell structure. Pectin is available commercially in powdered and liquid forms. I’ve used commercial pectin myself (brand name Jam Setta) to help my jams and marmalades set. And have been very grateful as usually my ‘jams’ end up as runny sauces.

Where you’ll find it

Jams, fruit spread, marmalade; jellies; ice-cream; fruity yoghurts; jelly confectionery; fruit drinks.

6. Magnesium sulphate (518)

Also known as Epsom salt, magnesium sulphate is used as a mineral salt and firming agent by the food industry. You can buy it readily at pharmacies, supermarkets and gardening stores as white or colourless crystals, or a granular white powder.

Epsom Salts closeup final smllIt occurs naturally in sea water and is a common and economical source of soluble magnesium. Taken orally, it’s an effective natural laxative.

Where you’ll find it

You’re already ingesting magnesium and sulphate from foods or supplements. Magnesium is widely distributed in foods but rich sources are milk, whole grains, parsley, spinach and other green vegetables, meats, nuts and bananas.

7. Bromelain (1101)

Bromelain is a protease enzyme (meaning it breaks down proteins) found naturally in fresh pineapple. Thanks to this natural enzyme, fresh pineapple is well known as an ingredient in a meat marinade, as it can tenderise and soften tough meat before a barbecue. Similar enzymes that break down proteins are found in fresh figs (ficin) and paw-paw or papaya (papain).

Where you’ll find it

Marinades and sauces.

4 other additives that don’t set off alarm bells

  • Tartaric acid 334 food acid
  • Ascorbic acid 300 and sodium ascorbate 301 antioxidant
  • Xanthan gum 415 gelling agent
  • Beta-carotene 160a natural orange colour

Navigate a middle course to make nutritious, meals, with maximum convenience & minimum additives.

Want to know more?

Then grab a copy of The handy Foodwatch Guide to Food Additives here. It’ll help you navigate a middle course so you can provide nutritious, healthy meals for yourself and those you love, with maximum convenience and minimum additives.


  • Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    Product snapshot: Tomato pasta sauces

    18 September 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    What’s in your favourite tomato pasta sauce, and how much of it? Here are the most popular sauces reviewed for your reading pleasure.

    I’ve rated nine of the most popular tomato pasta sauces in terms of their nutrition, ingredient lists and jar size. You’ll find many of these in your local supermarket. The sauces are ranked:

    • from Italian (Italy grows the reddest full-flavoured tomatoes) to Australian
    • per 100 grams, which is equivalent to 3½ ounces (the standard for comparing food products)
    • by serving size (varies between brands but is generally 100–175 g in size)
    • by ingredient list, jar size and where made (with each product’s website as the source)

    The bottom line

    When you’re next out shopping, run your eyes down the per 100 g column and look for products containing less than 400 mg sodium AND less than 5 g fat (which equals 5% fat). Most of the brands are below these levels. I like Barilla, Sacla, Leggo’s, La Gina and Mutti – but that’s just me!

    Read more
  • Product Review: Low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer

    Product review: Low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer

    1 March 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Want something to drink before dinner? Something that’s LOWER in alcohol than wine? To match his beer? Then look no further than Bundaberg’s low-sugar alcoholic ginger beer.

    You can drink Bundaberg low-sugar ginger beer straight from the can, or pour it into a long glass over ice with a slice of lime.


  • Product snapshot: Khorasan Macaroni

    Product snapshot: Berkelo’s Khorasan Macaroni

    14 September 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    I’m loving this macaroni from Berkelo. I was sent a sample for Whole Grain Week 2022 by the Grains Legume Nutrition Council. I cooked it up and found that it was just divine! Read on for more …

  • Product Review: super-high-oleic-safflower-oil

    Product review: Super high-oleic safflower oil

    11 May 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    “What does super high-oleic mean?” I hear you ask.  Also, “I haven’t heard of safflower for ages. What’s the deal?” Read on and all will be explained.

  • Product Review: Healthy Life Food Tracker

    Product review: Healthy Life Food Tracker

    6 April 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    When I was first asked to write this review, I thought, Not another tracker.

    After all, there have been several in recent years, such as My Fitness Pal and Everyday Diet Diary. But this one is different. It works by using your Everyday Rewards card AND your shop at Woolworths.

  • Product review: Lite n' Easy

    Product review: Lite n' Easy

    20 October 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    With home delivery on the rise, this post is reviewing none other than that stalwart Lite n’ Easy. We all know their meals are good for weight loss (which we all need after COVID-19!), but did you know they’re also good for general health and wellbeing ? Eating well to nourish yourself – putting your mental health and wellbeing at the forefront – is gaining momentum. Lite n’ Easy meals also ensures you satisfy your need for vitamins, minerals, fibre and phyto-compounds, such as sterols and carotenoids.

    clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Lite n' Easy.  


  • Product review:  Birds Eye Plant Based range

    Product review: Birds Eye Plant Based range

    15 September 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    When you think of Birds Eye, their frozen peas and fish fingers probably come to mind. But I bet you’d never think of plant-based products!

    clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Birds Eye. 

Healthy Weight Loss

  • Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction

    3 May 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    As you probably know already, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained favour as an alternative regimen to daily caloric restriction (DCR). Fasting is shown to extend the lifespan of rats, and has been associated with metabolic benefits in humans, yet the results so far have been inconsistent. So, which regimen is best for healthy weight loss?

    Read more
  • The lifestyle diet craze

    The lifestyle diet craze

    15 March 2023 by, Catherine Saxelby

    What sort of a diet should you follow to lose that excess weight? These days, it’s pretty confusing with high-protein Keto advocates clashing with plant-protein followers … as well as intermittent fasters, juice-only dieters, no-carb dieters and no-animal (aka plant-based) dieters. Plus all the ads for anti-hunger supplements, meal-replacement shakes and home-delivered meals, more of which somehow appear every day. So, what sort of diet should YOU follow to lose that excess?

  • Protein shakes for weight loss

    Protein shakes for weight loss

    9 November 2022 by, Catherine Saxelby

    These days, protein shakes aren’t bought by just body builders – they’re so popular that you can readily buy a 400 g tub at your local supermarket or service station. And with tempting claims such as ‘Facilitates muscle toning’, ‘Contains transformation-making protein’ and ‘Tastes incredible, mixes easily’, why wouldn’t you grab one? But protein shakes aren’t the magic answer to all your weight-loss woes. Let’s take a look at what you get for your money.

    Guest post by dietitian Zoe Wilson APD

  • What is your relationship with food and eating?

    How to beat those cravings

    20 January 2021 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Many of us have cravings from time to time and for different reasons. One thing is certain, they can sabotage all your best efforts at a healthy diet and/or weight loss. The good news? You CAN beat them. I’ll tell you how.

  • What is your relationship with food and eating?

    How to lose weight WITHOUT going on a diet

    14 October 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

    The word 'diet' is a turn-off for most people. It sounds hard, unpleasant and unpalatable. Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard AND it doesn’t have mean sticking to a 'diet'. You can forget Paleo, Keto, Vegan and Raw, Gluten-free and Intermittent Fasting. To lose weight, you don’t have to follow any specific diet. What you need is simple, healthy, nutritious food and a few tips and tricks.

  • What IS a healthy balanced diet for weight loss?

    What IS a healthy balanced diet for weight loss?

    16 September 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

    Healthy weight loss happens when you lose weight slowly and steadily (around 1 kg or 2 pounds weight loss a week). Your goal is to lose weight while still getting your essential nutrients but from smaller portions. You certainly don’t want to be tired with no energy! That’s why you need regular healthy meals and snacks on hand to ensure your vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and fibre needs can be easily met. There is a new range of healthy weight loss meals available and it’s one that I’d like to recommend. With these ready meals, you’ll say goodbye to meal planning, shopping, meal preparation and cooking.

    This post is sponsored by Chefgood 

  • Kitchen make-over for the New Year

    Kitchen make-over for the New Year

    8 January 2020 by, Catherine Saxelby

     “This year, I'm going to lose weight!”, or “This year I’m opting for a healthier lifestyle!” Is your 2020 New Year's resolution something like one of these? If so, how is it going to happen?