Seasoning cubes are a popular kitchen ingredient used to enhance the flavor of various dishes. These small cubes or blocks are packed with concentrated flavors and are typically composed of salt, seasonings, and flavor enhancers. They come in various flavors, with the most common being chicken, beef, vegetables, and fish.
Seasoning cubes may be known by many names in different parts of the world. For instance, in Nigeria, they are called “Maggi” cubes. A lot of people use seasoning cubes in their cooking without thinking about how it might affect their health. While these cubes make food taste better, using them too much or for a long time can be bad for your body. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at what’s inside these seasoning cubes.
Common Ingredients of seasoning cubes
A standard seasoning cube is made up of a variety of unnatural components. Salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sugar, hydrogenated palm oil, cornstarch, dried beef or fish (depending on the flavor), caramel color, natural flavor, disodium inosinate, spices, turmeric, and TBHQ (a preservative) are among the ingredients. Maggi cubes are the most common type of spice in Nigeria, and they include a lot of sodium and MSG.
6 Negative Effects of Seasoning Cubes
Let’s break down why the above ingredients could be a concern for your health:
Most of the ingredients in seasoning cubes are highly processed. Consuming too much processed food can introduce chemicals and additives into your body that might not be healthy in the long run.
High Salt Content
Some seasoning cubes contain as much as 2.50 grams of salt, which is over 40% of the cube’s weight. An average adult should not consume more than 5 grams of salt per day. Using just two cubes already meets your daily salt intake, and many people use more than that, which can lead to high blood pressure and kidney issues.
Seasoning cubes are loaded with sodium, and excessive sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.
These cubes contain hydrogenated oils, which are processed and turn into unhealthy trans fats. Trans fats can raise “bad” cholesterol levels and lower “good” cholesterol levels, leading to heart problems.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
While there’s debate about MSG’s exact effects on the body, it’s generally advisable to limit its intake. Some studies suggest that excessive MSG consumption may be linked to issues like obesity, cancer, numbness, and asthma.
Though present in small quantities, sugar in seasoning cubes can add up if you use a lot of them. If you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, it’s important to be mindful of the number of cubes you use.
Absolutely, moderation is key when using seasoning cubes. Limit yourself to a maximum of two cubes per day to help keep your salt intake in check. Additionally, try to steer clear of fast food as much as possible because it often contains highly processed and salty condiments.
Instead of relying solely on seasoning cubes, consider using a variety of natural spices like garlic, ginger, curry leaves, turmeric, and more. If you want to explore traditional Nigerian flavors, you can opt for healthier options like locust beans (iru), ogiri, dawa dawa, crayfish, and onions. These alternatives not only add flavor to your dishes but also provide nutritional benefits without the drawbacks of excessive salt and processed ingredients.