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When it comes to containing mineral and vitamin wealth, NOTHING beats wholesome, raw veggies and fruits. In fact, when you expose these ingredients to relatively low heat through cooking (boiling, steaming, frying, braising, extruding and baking) you loose nutritional values.

So, whilst some pet foods claim to be natural and nutritious, the fact that it is presented in a dry kibble form, would mean that it would have had to undergo some cooking procedure, thus destroying much or all of its nutritional values.

Effects of heat and cooking – AN IMPORTANT READ

All of the better known commercial pet food brands are extruded and cooked and exposed to extreme temperatures.  But even the newer kibble that has recently entered the South African market, claiming to be whole and natural, is guilty of the same.

A “natural  pet food” that recently has entered the South African market proudly claims:   “we slow-cook our foods at low temperatures (90C/195F).”

Ninety degrees centigrade (90C) is high when you consider that the canning process reaches 130C.  Remember, most minerals and vitamins are denatured already at 47C.

The University of Michigan says that “when fruits or vegetables are cooked at high temperatures or for long periods of time, heat-sensitive nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C and folate are more likely to be destroyed.”  The Oregon State University Extension states that “if you’re making fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods a part of your daily diet, you know you’re doing your body a big favor. But you may be unknowingly losing precious vitamins and minerals just by preparing and cooking your foods. Vitamins can be destroyed by heat, water and light”

Vitamin C is the most heat fragile vitamin of all. It can be easily destroyed by temperatures above 21C (twenty one degrees Centigrade) which is a problem for people who don’t eat fresh fruit and enjoy their vegetables cooked. Even steaming vegetables for only a few minutes can destroy a significant amount of vitamin C

It is all very well starting with a good source of ingredients, like fresh salmon, but any cooking method will destroy its protein content. “An abundance of protein is found in salmon. Temperature however, affects protein structure. Temperatures above 37C (thirty seven degrees Centigrade) will denature the proteins breaking the proteins down to their amino acids”.

“Also, the main vitamins found in Salmon are vitamin B12, vitamin A and niacin. These temperatures will destroy the vitamins found in the salmon, decreasing its nutritional value.”

Naturally Preserved!! Really??

We often find that the pet food labels claim that their food is “naturally preserved” or are “preservative free”. But are these natural preservatives “natural” and more importantly can they claim to be totally safe? And how is it possible that a dry food can stay on the shelf for 12 – 24 months without being preserved.

Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E are the main preservatives used in order to claim that your food is natural, even if it is in the form of a kibble or canned. Obviously, frozen food need not be preserved as freezing is already a natural preservative.

Pet food manufacturers now use ‘mixed tocopherols’ (a claimed source or form of vitamin E), citric acid, beta-carotene and Rosemary extract as preservatives. However, high levels of vitamin E, the most widely used antioxidant in pet foods today, can disrupt the activity of the other fat soluble vitamins, namely vitamin K (menadione), vitamin A (retinol), and vitamin D (calciferol)

Vitamin C, as synthetic ascorbic acid, can even be dangerous in mega doses and yet it is a very common “natural” preservative. Vitamins in their isolated and synthetic form can stimulate or suppress various systems of the body and can lead to biochemical imbalances. This covers up the symptoms allowing a given disease process to remain unchanged or progressively worsen.

Natural Ingredients!!! Really???

If it is ain’t in its whole natural state then it ain’t natural and appropriate. Even then, if one took the time to scrutinize the list of ingredients (make sure you have a thick pair of reading glasses) you will note the following ingredients listed: chicken meal/lamb meal/duck meal/fish meal/herring meal; potato; pea fiber; oats, etc and of course premium vitamins and minerals (this is to push up the nutritional values that have been found wanting and to preserve “naturally”).  Then there are the other companies that include an array of “meals”, digestives, by-products, emulsifiers, fats, flavoring, etc

Important Conclusion

Imported pet food is extremely expensive and over priced.

Now that we note that some of the ingredients are not so “natural” and that “preservative-free” is not necessarily true and that even if you start with quality ingredients, when exposed to heat, it denatures the nutritional value, paying such exorbitant prices does not really make sense/cents.

The highest quality of nourishment comes from whole natural and enzyme-active foods that are not refined, processed, cooked or laden with preservatives.  The challenge is to understand your pet food labels and ingredients so that you can best decide what is truly natural, free of preservatives and nutritious for your beloved companion animal.

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