I used to consume bottled peach iced tea all the time. I loved the flavor of the tea — it was completely unique and I was hooked. When I got more label-savvy, I noticed that a real peach never made it into the bottle, but “natural flavors” were used instead.
I've since eliminated these natural flavors from my everyday diet after extensive research into what they actually are.
But wait, they’re natural right? Why should I care?
That's the catch: they're not natural at all. Many processed foods and drinks on our supermarket shelves are laced with chemicals to do just that — hook us into craving these flavors and coming back for more.
When you see the word "flavor" on an ingredient list, you have no clue as to what chemicals may have been added under this vague term, which can be a serious concern.
Flavor extracts and ingredients derived from genetically engineered crops may also be labeled "natural" because the FDA hasn't fully defined what that term means.
In fact, the FDA says as long as an ingredient originated from a natural source, it can be called a “natural flavor”. BUT they’re allowed to add harmful chemicals and other nasties to their natural flavors after the fact without telling you.
These flavors are manufactured in laboratories and are anything but natural. Both natural and artificial flavors are chemicals combinations. These flavors are added to mimic the real stuff cheaply to create a taste that is exclusive to a brand.
Natural flavors even lurk in products in health stores. They can be found in everything from organic vegetable stock and crackers to teas. Tip: if peach tea doesn't have real dried peach pieces, it’s artificially flavored.
What can we do to avoid these unnatural added flavorings?
- Read labels. Don’t just get comfortable that a health food store or the natural foods aisle in a supermarket is without them. Ditch natural flavors by being mindful about these chemicals on ingredient lists.
- Beware of the word natural, which graces the front of most products these days — unfortunately it's just marketing hype.
- Cook for yourself. I learned to cook and love the way real food tastes. Shop the fresh produce aisles to avoid added ingredients and create your own flavors to nourish your body with real ingredients.
I'm steering away from packaged foods made with chemicals because they interfere with the true essence of glorious foods.
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