In terms of cooking difficulty, pudding is one of the simplest desserts you can make -- though you would never know it from its silky, satisfying taste. But for one reason or another, we tend to opt for just a little more convenience by buying the store-bought kind (where all we have to do is mix the powder packet with milk, or better yet, just peel pack the foil seal).
Have you ever stopped to look at what's in your convenient pudding treat? We all know that it isn't just the simple combination of eggs, milk, sugar and cornstarch like when we make it from scratch. But you might be surprised by some of the ingredients that have made their way into your dessert. A typical ingredient list can include: non-fat milk, sugar, dextrose, partially hydrogenated palm oil, modified cornstarch, natural and artificial flavor, salt disodium phosphate, yellow 5, yellow 6, artificial color and BHA.
While most of those ingredients are fairly standard, there are a few on the list that aren't exactly harmless:
BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHA is a preservative that's used primarily in food, food packaging, animal feed, cosmetics, rubber and petroleum. (Yum, instant pudding shares a similar material to the gloves you may use for cleaning your home.) There's quite a bit of controversy surrounding BHA. Some studies have linked this preservative with an increased risk of cancer. It hasn't yet been confirmed in humans, but the state of California felt there was enough evidence to list it as an official carcinogen. Not exactly what you want to be ingesting with your dessert.
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils -- which contain trans fats -- have been called out for some time now as an unacceptable ingredient in our processed foods. Many companies have removed it from their food products, but some store-bought puddings are behind the times -- meaning this undesirable ingredient can still be found in a number of our instant puddings. Trans fats have been linked to increased risks of coronary heart disease. Some studies have also suggested that it can elevate the risk of diabetes, obestiy and Alzheimer's -- just a couple of maladies off the long list of health issues resulting from trans fat consumption.
Another worrisome ingredient that sneaks its way into this dessert is yellow 5 and yellow 6 food coloring. As we recently discussed on Kitchen Daily, these food dyes are suspected of being responsible for ADHD in children; the U.K. Food Standards Agency has issued an official warning of this side effect. Other possible side effects include increase risk of cancer and severe allergic reactions.
That's quite a lot to take in with a simple pudding treat. With that in mind, wouldn't you rather skip those skeptical ingredients and make your own pudding -- with only the best ingredients involved? Lucky for us, pudding is such an easy dessert to put together that we really don't need to rely on the store-bought variety -- it requires just a couple of minutes of prep time and a short list of ingredients. Click through the slideshow below for mouth-watering pudding recipes.
How do you feel about instant pudding? Leave a comment below!