Where possible, avoid foods with added synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. Ultra-processed foods often contain artificial ingredients and excess or added sugar, fats or salt and, at the same time, have limited nutritional value, as previously noted. Here Ocean Robbins, FoodRevolution.org, reflects on everything you need to know about natural flavors:
I would bet that the last time you went grocery shopping, you picked out a number of food items that appeared to be pretty healthy. And it’s likely that when you read the ingredient lists, many of them contained “natural flavors.” Cool, you might think. What’s better than natural? It’s probably some fruit or vegetable extract, like cinnamon or turmeric. Heck, it’s probably even good for me, right?
Unfortunately, “natural” flavors can contain chemicals, carrier solvents, and preservatives. And they could be made from just about anything other than petroleum. So, what’s the deal?
What are Natural Flavors?
The official FDA definition of a natural flavor is “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating, or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit, or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
Whew. That was a mouthful. And if your takeaway from that definition is that “natural flavor” could pretty much mean anything, I’d have to agree. And that’s pretty disconcerting for someone who likes to know what’s in my food. Especially since these substances are pretty much everywhere.
There are over 2,500 chemically defined flavor substances used in the United States and Europe. Despite the fact that “natural flavors” are comprised of just about anything used for flavor, they are all lumped together under one name. In fact, out of 80,000 foods in Environmental Working Group’s Food Scores database, “natural flavors” is the 4th most common ingredient of all.
Why are Natural Flavors Used?
Why are natural flavors used so much, and in so many things? In short, because manufacturers believe they make food taste better, which is good for sales. And in many cases, they are also a cheap way to cover up bad-tasting food. For example, a piece of ripe fruit can taste amazing. But if a farm picks its fruit too green, and ships it 10,000 miles, it may lack flavor, color, and sweetness. If a company can add some natural flavors (plus a hefty dose of sugar and maybe even some food dye), suddenly the food will taste sweet and flavorful, and look brightly colored. The result is a poor substitute for real food, but these practices can be profitable, and most consumers will be fooled.
Creating these substances is big business. The food industry employs what are called “flavor scientists,” whose main job is to mimic the taste of different foods and make them more flavorful and even addictive to consumers.
In other words, these flavorings are used to keep you coming back for more.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/natural-flavors/
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