Everyone is familiar with seasoning cubes. Hardly a dish is cooked these days without adding a seasoning cube or two. It adds great flavour to whatever it is added to, improving the taste and aroma. In the market, there are so many brands in the business of stock cubes. While they all taste almost the same, everyone has a brand or two that they take as their favourites. These seasoning cubes even come in different flavours, such as soup, stew, crayfish, chicken, and so on, meant to reflect the dishes they should be used for or the type of flavour they carry. These seasoning cubes have replaced our traditional seasoners and some even use them in place of salt.
People use these seasoning cubes without wondering the effects it may have on their health. It is no doubt that it changes the taste of food but long-term or excessive use of these cubes could have some effect on your body. A good way to understand this is to examine the ingredient of your average seasoning cubes.
Ingredients of seasoning cubes
An average seasoning cube would contain the following; salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sugar, hydrogenated palm oil, cornstarch, dehydrated beef or fish (depending on the flavour), caramel color, natural flavor, disodium inosinate, spices, turmeric, TBHQ (preservative). Maggi cubes are the most popular type of food seasoning in Nigeria. A maggi cube contains high amount of sodium, and MSG.
As you can see, there is almost nothing natural here as everything has been processed in one form or the other and it is not advised that you eat too much processed food because it contains chemicals and additives your body may not agree with in the long term.
But the major concern here is the salt content. Some seasoning cubes contain as much as 2.50 grams of salt, accounting for more than 40% of the whole cube. To fully understand the danger here, an average adult should not consume more than 5grams of salt per day. So by the time you use two seasoning cubes, you have already satisfied your body with all the salt it needs for one day. The reality, however, is that most people do not stop at one cube. Some people might use 3 to 4 cubes at a go. Some might even cook twice a day, using 3 cubes on both occasions, flooding their system with salt. But that is not the only hazard.
Many people are in the habit of adding salt after loading their pot with two or more seasoning cubes. While some do it out of ignorance, there are those who still add salt because they do not believe that the seasoning cube would provide all the salt that they need. Excess salt consumption could lead to high blood pressure and kidney problems.
Additionally, seasoning cubes are high in sodium and taking excess amount of sodium is linked to high blood pressure. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.
They are also made up of hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils are once-healthy oils which have been processed into unhealthy trans fatty acids. Hydrogenated vegetable oil will undergo processing to enhance its taste, texture, and shelf life. This process forms trans fats, which are not good for your health. They have been shown to increase LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, and decrease HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
Seasoning cubes also contain monosodium glutamate (MSG). while they are varying opinions on the exact effect of MSG on the body, its intake should be controlled. It’s not advisable to take a lot of something that’s not natural into your body. Some studies have shown that some of the toxic effects of MSG include obesity, cancer, numbness, asthma, and so on.
Sugar is also present in seasoning cubes. Although it occurs in very small quantities, using more cubes could increase the amount of sugar in your food. So if you are someone who is cutting down on their sugar intake, you should see that you reduce the number of stock cubes you use.
What You Can Do To Curb The Health Effects of Seasoning Cubes?
If you must keep using seasoning cubes, then you have to make moderation a virtue. You can settle for two cubes at most, per day. Also, try to avoid eating fast foods as much as you can. Foods there are prepared with all sorts of condiments, most of them processed and with too much salt.
Rather than use seasoning cubes, you can make use of other spices like garlic, ginger, curry leaves, turmeric, and so on. But you can never go wrong by using salt alone. If you want something more, you can decide to go traditional by using healthy Nigerian spices like locust beans (iru), ogiri, dawa dawa, crayfish, and onions. If onions are expensive you can check out some healthy alternatives to onions.