Natural And Artificial Flavors

When we search the stores for grocery items, we are inundated with labels and marketing promoting their products to be ‘healthy’ or more ‘natural’ alternatives. Among the regularly seen labeled ingredients are the words ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ flavorings – but what does this really mean for our health? Is there any difference between the two?


When used in relation to food standard labeling, the term ‘natural flavor’ is used when the flavoring has an edible source (animal or vegetable derivative). The definition of ‘Artificial Flavoring’ is used when the source of the flavoring is inedible – which really means that it can come from anything at all. These definitions, however, do not mean that one is necessarily healthier than the other – which is not what we are led to believe as most people would assume that ‘natural’ is the better alternative.


When examining the chemical make-up of certain flavorings, it has been found that the exact same chemicals can be extracts from both edible and inedible sources, making two differently labels flavorings (natural or artificial) as essentially creating the same end result of ingredient. The difference here between the chemicals is where they were extracted from and how they are synthesized. The implication of this fact is that when a product boasts a ‘natural’ ingredient, that does not mean that the product will be better for you, or the environment.


In terms of nutritional content of the flavorings, it is said that neither have any nutritional value, therefore, no difference in terms of health effects. This just gives us ever more reason to really do our own research and look at labels of our foods, with the healthiest choices always being real, natural food. Aim to consume more fresh, whole foods with minimal additional ingredients.


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