I have a kind of….frustration with the ingredient “natural flavors.” I’m annoyed by many food additives, like high fructose corn syrup, which my mother jokingly tells people not to mention in front of me. I’ll most likely talk about that one another day. But, currently I am annoyed with natural flavors. One of the reasons is that I don’t want to consume it, and I can’t seem to avoid it. It’s harder to avoid than high fructose corn syrup. Hard to believe right? Check your ingredient lists.
I’m frustrated because the term natural flavor leads the consumer to believe that this ingredient is formed by nature, that is in fact the definition of natural. According to the FDA natural flavors are derived from herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, etc. But a natural flavor is still a chemical, and much more similar to an artificial flavor in composition than anything you would find growing in a garden. Both of these flavors are constructed by “flavorists” in a laboratory. These flavorists use the same chemicals but different processes to compose the two flavors.
Why use natural flavors? Why not use the real thing? Why not use actual vanilla extract instead of natural vanilla flavor or almond extract instead of natural almond flavor? It’s simply because natural flavors are cheaper to produce. Most companies don’t care that they are pumping our bodies full of chemicals. They’d rather make the extra buck or two if they can fool you into thinking that a natural flavor is perfectly natural to eat. But it’s far from that.
So for example, during the process of deriving natural almond flavor traces of hydrogen cyanide are also formed. Cyanide, a highly poisonous substance, doesn’t sound so yummy to me.
Although you won’t die from small traces of cyanide, your body won’t be too happy about it. Chemicals cause acidic conditions in the body; diseases and viruses thrive in acidic conditions. Natural flavors are listed all the way at the bottom of the ingredient list, so you may be inclined to think, “there’s not that much in here, a little bit of chemicals won’t hurt me.” I know I’ve thought that too, but studies show that the average American consumes 124 pounds of food chemicals per year. I’m not saying that natural flavors are solely responsible for diseases and viruses. I do think it’s important to be aware that chemicals definitely don’t help your body, and that a natural flavor is anything but natural to your body.