Finally Getting Fit

It’s In There: Benzaldehyde

Posted on: November 13, 2010

So while surfing down my twitter feed the other day I see a link to this post and it made me wonder what’s really in our food and does it really matter?

I’ve been contemplating for a time moving towards a more paleo diet.  I want to know what I’m eating and where it comes from.  I have no answer as to why it’s taken me 45 years to give a damn.

Now the Coach doesn’t really care.  His response was “Up to you, this stuff doesn’t bother me all that much.  Humans can eat lots of stuff as long as it’s cooked.”  So now I’m back on the seesaw.  Should I care?  Shouldn’t I care?  Do I really want some questionable chemical in my body. This body that’s already not behaving like I want it to?

So I took minute to look at some stuff.

First up Benzaldehyde.

According to Wikipedia benzaldehyde is an organic compound consisting of a benzene ring with a formyl substituent. It is the simplest aromatic aldehyde and one of the most industrially useful. This colorless liquid has a characteristic pleasant almond-like odor. In fact, benzaldehyde is the primary component of bitter almond oil and can be extracted from a number of other natural sources.

Want to guess where I found it? In the bottle of Imitation Almond Extract.  Cause even Fake Almond Extract should still smell like almonds.  I have a lot of imitation flavors in my cupboard because I’m cheap and imitation flavors are much less expensive than the real thing. However, you won’t find imitation vanilla. I love some pure vanilla extract and pay through the nose for it.

So what we have to question here is how much is too much? Is the half teaspoon used in a batch of almond cookies going to do us any harm? I would guess the white sugar used in those cookies would probably do more harm than the divided amount of benzaldehyde.

And it takes a whole lot of molecular and chemical manipulation to create benzaldehyde from natural products like almonds, apricots, apples, and cherry kernels.

It’s also much fun to read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for benzaldehyde. Keep in mind that this generally for workers who are handling the pure chemical before it is diluted and mixed with anything else.


“Since benzaldehyde has a low autoignition temperature, avoid exposure to heated surfaces. Finely dispersed benzaldehyde may ignite spontaneously. Rags used to wipe up spills or activated carbon to absorb vapors of Benzaldehyde have also been known to ignite spontaneously. Decomposition under fire conditions will generate carbon monoxide and may generate other toxic vapors.”

Inhalation of concentrated vapors may irritate the nose and throat and may produce central nervous system depression with possible respiratory failure.
Eye Contact:
May cause eye irritation
Skin Contact:
May cause skin irritation. Sensitive individuals may develop a rash from contact with benzaldehyde
May be harmful if swallowed. See LD50 information.”

Excuse me? “May be harmful if swallowed”???  I’m supposed to put this in cookies. Just how harmful is it?

“Emergency First Aid: If swallowed, call a physician immediately. Induce vomiting only on advice of medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person.”

But it must be safe in the smallest amounts right? Cause the FDA allows it in there and we know our government wouldn’t let anything unsafe go into our food right?





1 Response to "It’s In There: Benzaldehyde"

Tough one, Debra, and I’m right there with you. We used to be vegetarian, but I found that so many of the protein *substitutes* we were using were filled with just ingredient after ingredient of things I couldn’t identify. Do I really want to fill myself, and more importantly my KIDS, with chemicals and compounds engineered to taste like the real thing? Or is it better simply to eat the real thing? For us, we’ve decided to go back to eating real food, including meat.

I’m experimenting this month with eating clean and avoiding packaged food as much as possible. It’s been eye-opening!

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Debra ~ Getting healthy from the inside out.

The Starting Line

November 2, 2009 Weight: 202.6 lbs BMI 37.28

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