Many people reading product ingredient lists see these three names quite often. What’s the connection between them, and why do they appear so often in processed foods?
What you need to know:
1. Ascorbic acid (E300) and vitamin C are one and the same, and are an essential nutrient for humans.
2. Citric acid (E330) and ascorbic acid both occur naturally in citrus fruits, but there is no vitamin C in citric acid.
3. Citric acid is responsible for the tart and sour taste of lemons, and to a lesser extent other citrus fruits and some berries.
4. Contrary to popular belief, the best source for vitamin C is not oranges. Better sources are kiwis, bell peppers, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
5. Chemically, the only difference between ascorbic acid and citric acid is one additional oxygen atom in citric acid.
6. Both Ascorbic acid and citric acid are used extensively as food additives because they are very cheap to manufacture artificially.
7. Citric acid is mainly used to add a tangy sour flavor to soft drinks (50% of world production).
8. Unfortunately, vitamin C is very easily lost from fruits and vegetables when processed. That’s why in many products it is reintroduced as an additive.
9. Citric acid is manufactured through the use of Aspergillus Niger, a mold that feeds on cheap corn syrup glucose.
10. Vitamin C tastes very bitter, just like most vitamins. In some cases Citric acid is used to mask the bitter flavor of vitamin C pills.
11. Citric acid makes it easier for the body to absorb some minerals. For example, calcium citrate is sometimes added to orange juice.
12. Ascorbic acid in lemon juice is what keeps cut fruits and vegetables from turning brown. That’s why commercial food processing it is used as an antioxidant preservative.
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